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Retail space fills up for... Offices?

Great news! 100 well paying jobs are coming to Duluth this July when Enbridge opens a new office in the Weiland Hayes Block on Superior Street (across from the Tech Village.) Many of you probably know the building I am referring to. The beautiful 19th century building that was recently renovated and completely restored to it's former glory by A&L Properties. Well now the block that has been sitting largely vacant (with the exception of Justin Paul Salon and St Luke's) since it's extensive renovation, will soon be filled. Enbridge will lease 41,000 square feet of space within the building, enough space to cause the downtown office vacancy rate to drop 2 percent down to 14%. The only negative thing about the hole situation? The space they will be locating their new office in is a mix of office space and retail. We can't complain about jobs, and we shouldn't! And I hope nobody understands me incorrectly here and thinks that I am not happy with new jobs coming to the area. There is nothing more that I would like to see than a brand new skyscraper downtown completely devoted to offices! The only thing that frustrates me though when it comes to a mix of office and retail is when offices open up in space that is intended for retail use. It can completely change the feel of an area. For instance, the block where Enbridge will be locating is ALL retail on the first levels of the building and offices on the upper floors. This way it causes people to linger in the area, going in and out of each store, and giving the office workers an area to stroll, shop, and eat during their free time. This giant space that they will be filling includes a space that was intended for a retailer or a restaurant of some sort. Now the large glass windows that were intended to display products or happy customers dining on the freshest cuisine, will be filled with a view of partitions, cubicles, and office printers. It's great to see Enbridge investing in our downtown, but it also saddens me that this beautiful retail space that had the potential to become quite a neat little shopping area will now be filled. Duluth lacks nice retail space for shops and restaurants to open in. It's frustrating when the little amount we do have disappears to become offices. What we can be happy about is that Enbridge will bring new life to downtown and will hopefully spur some development around their new offices. After all, you need people downtown and places for them to work before the nightlife scene begins to pop up. Here's to wishing Enbridge the best in their new endeavors in downtown Duluth.. and also for a few new retailers to pop up downtown!
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