Community Impact Project Winner: Clyde Park

Project Location:  Duluth

Project Summary

Clyde Park is strategically located in the southwest part of Lincoln Park, one of the oldest and largest neighborhoods in Duluth, Minnesota. The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) designated it as an impoverished, urban neighborhood and a target area for redevelopment. Prior to redevelopment, the property covered 10 acres and included approximately 19 industrial buildings. It is a highly visible site adjacent to Interstate I-35 just west of downtown Duluth and near the city’s waterfront.

The property has a long history of heavy industrial use, first as an iron foundry and heavy machining shop from the 1890s until the 1970s. At the height of its operations, Clyde employed approximately 600 workers. As Clyde’s operations dwindled and ultimately ceased, the community lost more than jobs, it lost a center of activity. By about 2002, the site was largely vacant and blighted with poorly maintained surfaces, buildings, and an incomplete security fence and was subject to vandalism and theft.

In 2003, Alessandro (Alex) Giuliani purchased the site. His vision was to create a mixed-use recreational and commercial development that retained its historical significance through reuse of key existing buildings. Giuliani completed an historical and physical assessment and participated in a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) brownfields assessment through the City of Duluth and worked closely with staff from the National Trust for Historical Preservation.

In December 2003, Peterson Arena, a city-owned hockey facility was destroyed by a Zamboni explosion and fire. The arena was a venue for city recreation programming and the youth hockey program. Its loss created a hardship for youth and their families. Local volunteers explored alternatives for a replacement facility, and in 2005, began discussions with Giuliani regarding potential use of the Clyde site. The challenges were contamination, inadequate utilities, and the need for improved traffic circulation. Working with the City of Duluth, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Giuliani initiated a multi-phase environmental and geotechnical assessment to explore the viability of an ice arena at the site.

Now redeveloped, the property is once again a focal point for the community. The 28,200 square-foot Clyde Iron (Restaurant and Venue) is a daily gathering point for residents. Over the past 12 months, the 1,500-person capacity adjoining event center hosted more than 180 events, including concerts, plays, boxing cards, dances, fundraising efforts, weddings, corporate banquets, tradeshows, training seminars, parties, and community meetings.

The Duluth Heritage Sports Center at Clyde served nearly a half-million guests last year. It is a multiplex facility anchored by the restored 27,900 square-foot foundry building, which is flanked by a 1,200-seat hockey arena and a 28,000 square-foot multi-sport pavilion. The hockey arena at the DHSC is the permanent home for youth and high school hockey in Duluth

The redevelopment is also the new home of the Duluth Children’s Museum, the nation’s fifth oldest children’s museum. It is currently located in Clyde’s former blast furnace and electrical building, and fundraising is underway to restore the former Duluth Brewing and Malting building for a permanent home.

The Clyde Park complex has proven a popular reuse of historic structures and now attracts new developments to the area, including an adjacent sporting goods store and a brand new commercial building for a gas distribution company. The redevelopment has improved the attractiveness of Lincoln Park while retaining the historical significance of several existing buildings. It provided much needed improvements to neighborhood stabilization, traffic safety, access, and circulation within Lincoln Park.

Clyde Iron (Restaurant and Venue) and the Duluth Heritage Sports Center at Clyde have become anchors for redevelopment on the west side of the Lincoln Park neighborhood and serve as models for future redevelopment in adjacent and surrounding areas. The DHSC provides, for the first time in history, a permanent home to Duluth’s four high school hockey teams, and it also houses a state-of-the-art Boys and Girls Club. With the completion of the DHSC complex, Duluth now has the capacity to host hockey tournaments—thereby contributing to its tax base.

Clyde Park’s impact on the community can be seen in the new storefronts, renewed energy and excitement, and a promising vision for the neighborhood. It is truly a multifaceted, community-supporting, and economy-building project that is sparking an ongoing and expanding sphere of positive influence.

Project Submitted by:  Barr Engineering Co.

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