It means quite a bit actually. Look to Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis for inspiration… but remember that with that inspiration you must take into consideration that the population that that district serves is over three times the size of Duluth’s, plus the district also has three theaters. That doesn’t really matter though because Duluth’s population is about the third the size though so it all evens out in the end right? Exactly. What the renovation and revitalization of the NorShor Theater means for Duluth is ultimately an era of success. In recent years we have seen a major push in development downtown on the eastern side, where as for years prior, even decades, most development occurred on the western side. The area that is now becoming home to art galleries, trendy restaurants, an independent movie theater, a higher end national brand hotel, and more, is ironically the area where it all started almost a century ago. But within the century there has been a multitude of time to create historic architecture and memories that people are now so eagerly and frantically trying to revitalize. With the addition of a working theater that will be able to host all types of events, especially touring broadway shows, Duluth will see a completely new surge of development on that end. Thanks to the help from Sherman Associates (the people responsible for the Sheraton Hotel), Duluth will finally have a working performing arts theater, and one that will be beautiful enough to rival those that live on Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis. In essence, Duluth is creating a Hennepin Avenue of it’s own. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Hennepin Avenue, it’s a district that lies on the western side of Downtown Minneapolis. It features three performing arts theaters (the Pantages, The State, and The Orpheum), all which seat over 1,000 people, and all date back to being built in the early 1900’s. Minneapolis took the time to revitalize those theathers and now have created an area that is bustling with a activity and is the second largest theater district outside of Broadway in New York City. The theaters are constantly booked with shows and the area never seems to lack some type of energetic life. I firmly believe that this same type of feel will come to Duluth when the $20 million dollar renovation of the NorShor is completed in 2014. People are going to want to flock to Duluth for the weekend, see a show, stay at the Sheraton, and experience all that Duluth’s new and upcoming night life scene has to offer. What do I believe that the renovation will spark for the area? A whole lot of development. I think that with this renovation we are going to see much higher end and more respected tenants filling the retail sites around the theater. I believe that we will see a lot of shuffling in businesses the closer we get to the opening of the new theater. That area is going to become a vital area for a nightlife scene because the idea of a show letting out and 800 people being released into the street, means every single retailer or restaurant is going to try to grab them and pull them in for a few hours. Another idea that’s always been toyed around in my head, and actually might become a reality soon with some of the talks that I have heard, is the idea of Greysolon Plaza being turned into a hotel once again. The fact that there is such a large building, with such beautiful views, and such a rich history, makes it truly building that seems unpassable by developers. I have heard lately that some developers have been looking to convert the apartments that now fill the hotel, back into hotel rooms, and that a chain that possibly would take over the building as a hotel could be a chain like Westin. Once again another sign of the sheer success that is bound to occur with the revitalization of the NorShor. What one can feel assured on is that with this renovation, Duluth is going to finally emerge again as a destination for all people. The area around the theater will see an immense change, including the revitalization of many buildings, new restaurants and retailers, and possibility even new hospitality ventures. For those who think this renovation doesn’t make sense and question why someone would embark on such a costly endeavor being we only receive one or two broadway shows or concerts a year… you’ve got to remember something quite vital. The reason Duluth doesn’t land the best shows or concerts is because of the way space has been organized in the area. All the performing spaces have either been too small, or too large. Look at the DECC for instance. When the new arena opened it was able to attract world class acts like Michael Buble, Elton John, and now even Cirque Du Soleil (which was never imaginable before) due to the new size and configuration of the arena. When a new smaller venue opens, it will open the doors for countless touring broadway shows, not to mention countless artists like Sara Barielles and Ingrid Michaelson, who tend to only play in smaller venues. Bottom line is. Duluth is going to see a whole lot change on the eastern side of Downtown. And that change will without a doubt be for the better. Get excited Duluth, because Hennepin Avenue is coming your way.