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The Changing Face of Duluth Downtown: One Year Later

Last year Duluth’s 30,000 sq. ft. downtown Restaurant District Parsons Alley was a maze of construction equipment and contractors building roads, commercial buildings, a new middle school, parking, and traffic signals. Today all of the Parsons Alley buildings are complete with eight of the 12 spaces occupied or in tenant finish. The public spaces are complete with outdoor seating, a public plaza, sitting walls, and public art. The school is complete and the first residential units at the corner of Buford Hwy and 120 (Duluth Hwy) are being occupied.

Duluth is still three years away from finishing its downtown upgrade. There are more commercial and public buildings to be built that are already approved and permitted. Visit today and you can eat, shop and be entertained in buildings constructed in the 1870s, 1900s, 1940s, 1990s, 2000s, and in 2017. Each one serving today’s public is a tribute to the era in which it was built. Park your car in one of the city’s 1,000 free and unlimited downtown parking spaces and see what has changed.

In Parsons Alley, Maple Street Biscuit has lovingly placed its community-focused chicken and biscuits eatery in the 1948 granite building which served as council chambers for Duluth City Hall. Diners are now sitting under the exposed rafters and beams – a tribute to the many people who came together to replace the 60-year-old church which was struck by lightning on the site. Good Word Brewing & Public House is aiming for a late November opening. It is busy preparing its brew operation to start crafting beers direct to the tap, along with from-scratch pub fare in the warehouse-style building at the corner of Highway 120. Noona Steak and Oysters will open next to Maple Street in November and, just like Dreamland BBQ, will use wood fire to cook up fine steak and smoked oysters. The Fix will be serving Neapolitan style pizza and burgers in the building next to the Parsons Alley sign. It is projected to be open in late spring of 2018.

Piatto is under new ownership. They promise to create a trackside patio area with the best view of passing trains Duluth has to offer, along with an upgraded bar as well as continued Main Street fine dining options. The Downtown Sandwich Shoppe opened its doors serving fresh made-to-order sandwiches in the former Expresso Theory coffee shop location. O4WP Pizzeria, Pure Taqueria, and Epicurian Cafe are still packed with loyal customers enjoying pizza, Mexican, and southern fine dining. Truck & Tap is a restaurant/bar that will feature a rotating selection of local food trucks and craft beer. Coming to Downtown Duluth in 2018, it will have a brick-and-mortar building housing a bar and a space-age 50s style car port that will serve as the docking station for a selection of over 100 food trucks plugging in to the brick-and-mortar building. Fourteen of the most popular food trucks throughout the metro area will be swapping out for lunch and supper service seven days a week.

Open Container District
Don’t forget to enjoy your favorite beverages as you stroll around Downtown Duluth. The entire downtown allows open containers in plastic to-go cups from any downtown establishment during operating hours. The only exception is Taylor Park adjacent to City Hall.

Retail Shops
Personify, Uni’k Hand Creations, Eyes Have Not Seen, Peace Love and Decorating, American Threads, 2 Smith Art Gallery, Eye Candy Art Studio, and Farmhouse Home Decor & Gifts give those dining or just visiting the 4-acre Town Green and Parsons Plaza a chance to browse unique gifts, jewelry, art, and clothing options. Duluth Yoga will be coming in December, located in the newest building under construction in Downtown Duluth. Squeezed in between Pure Taqueria and the Red Clay Music Foundry, the two-story steel and brick building finally completes the trackside array of buildings in downtown.

The Chocolaterie features chocolates and hand-dipped ice cream. Simply Done Donuts is now serving fresh made donuts and Crave Pie is a veteran business serving the most delicious artisan pies baked fresh right here in Downtown Duluth.

Parsons Alley Plaza, Town Green, Taylor Park, Town Green Fountain:
There are plenty of open spaces in Downtown Duluth for all ages. The ever-popular fountain operates each day. Dogs are welcome. Parsons Alley Plaza and Taylor Park feature plenty of seating.

Public and Performance Art
Parsons Alley Plaza is the home of the new kinetic art installation known as Phoenix. The colorful wind-driven whirligig can be seen following the breeze in front of Dreamland BBQ. Be sure to visit the Dream Keepers bronze installation located in the center of Town Green, attach your bike to the colorful bike racks, check out the old Dutch Mill motel sign, and gaze at the mosaic of Duluth’s old establishments at Parsons Alley. Catch a live music show with Eddie Owen at the Red Clay Music Foundry. You can even learn how to sing and play at the music school in the basement.

Pedestrian Crossings
Pedestrian crossings have been revamped to accommodate the walking public. Prominent is the new crossing at the top of Town Green on West Lawrenceville Street to help flow pedestrians from the green to Parsons Alley. A new crossing is in the works to accommodate pedestrians walking from the Brooks Coleman Middle School area to downtown across 120 at the parking lot behind Dreamland.

Downtown Residential
District at Duluth features 371 luxury apartment units as well as 11 live-work commercial units and two restaurants on the ground floor. It includes a five-level wrapped parking garage, interactive greenspace, public art, an interior street, on-street parking, and sidewalks throughout. Located at the corner of Buford Highway and State Route 120, right across the train tracks from the Main Street/Parsons Alley area, this $64 million mixed-use residential and commercial development is radically changing the “front door” of Downtown Duluth. The first residents occupied the District in October 2017, in the first of five buildings, with each building anticipated to open every one to two months. Local developer Home South Communities is turning the old industrial sites near the cemetery into a 22-acre downtown residential neighborhood. The development will feature a blend of unique architectural styles focused on the historic character of Downtown Duluth. It is less than a five-minute walk up the street to the Parsons Alley area. It will contain 95 townhomes and 39 single family homes.

Park the Loop
Think of parking in Downtown Duluth as a loop circling four distinct blocks. The first block begins at Coleman Middle School before proceeding to Parsons Alley, Town Green, and finally the cemetery. There is parking available along the LooP at every block that is all walkable and all free, with no time limits. There is even a designated pick up zone for taxis and rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber.

To find out more about Duluth Downtown, contact: Chris McGahee, Economic Development Manager, City Of Duluth at 770-497-5309, or check out and