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Twin Cities Developer Plans to Purchase Old Central High School

Twin Cities Developer Plans to Purchase Old Central High School image

A Twin Cities developer has plans to not only purchase but also transform the Old Central High School in Downtown Duluth.

Saturday Properties is in negotiations with the Duluth School Board to purchase the 128-year-old building which was listed for sale in January of this year. The company has a number of different residential properties scattered throughout the Twin Cities but this would be their first property in Duluth.

Saturday Properties is planning to transform the building into 120-140 mixed-income apartments. The units within the building would be a mix of market-rate and income-restricted units.

The exterior of the building would largely remain the same within some minor improvements being made while the interior would see a significant amount of work. However, the developer has stated that they would try to keep some of the “school” feel intact. They’ve also stated that a large atrium space within the building could be converted into a common area for residents.

The Duluth School Board has entered a purchase agreement with Saturday Properties. The company is currently seeking state and federal historic tax credits in order to make the project possible. Saturday Properties will also look at benefits associated with the building being located within a Duluth Opportunity Zone.

If all goes accordingly to plan, construction on the project could begin as soon as summer/fall 2021 with an anticipated completion in late 2022.

Twin Cities Developer Plans to Purchase Old Central High School image

A Small History Lesson

Just in case you were curious, here’s a little history lesson on what might be Downtown Duluth’s most iconic building.

Constructed in 1892, the historic building was designed by Palmer, Hall, & Hunt, with some help by Duluth-based architects Oliver G. Traphagen and Francis W. Fitzpatrick. The building was designed in the Richardson Romanesque architectural style and sits on an entire city block worth of land. Some of the most iconic features of the building are the Lake Superior Brownstone that covers its façade and the 210-foot clock tower that is located within the center of the main façade. Each one of the four clock faces on the tower spans 10ft in width.

Fun Fact: Did you know that from 1898 to 1942 a 17-foot cannon sat on the front steps of the building? The cannon came from a captured Spanish warship during the Spanish–American War. The cannon sat on the steps until World War II when it was donated to a scrap metal drive and melted down.

Old Central High School was home to students until 1971 when the new Central High School was built. Since then the building has been used by the school district, Education Equity, Indian Education, Unity High School and the St. Louis County Soil & Water District.

Old Central High School is located at 215 N 1st Avenue E.