It’s been a topic on many Duluthians minds for the past 30 years on what exactly will happen to the huge 600 acre site in Morgan Park that formerly housed U.S. Steel’s Operations. To be honest, I too have found myself continuing to ask that question and often being unable to find an answer. Many uses have been thrown out there by many different sources. Some suggest creating a new neighborhood on the site, therefore encouraging growth in the Morgan Park area. Some suggest making it a large waterfront resort style development. Others have suggested returning the site to it’s former use as a production facility with the hopes of luring in new tenants. And finally the most recent suggested use of the site, make it the new home of the Minnesota Vikings. As we all know, the last one can be immediately crossed off the board.
Various people lately have been commenting on how they have seen activity at the former site of U.S. Steel. Well, you’re correct in what you’ve seen. However, it might not be the most interesting response that I have for you at the moment. Back in 2010 the Duluth Seaway Port Authority approved the purchase of approximately 123 acres of the cleanest land on the 620 acre site. What the DSPA planned to do with that site is continue to clean it up, while also, with the help of the City of Duluth, extend utilities and infrastructure into the site. This way the site will be more appealing to prospective industrial tenants and far more marketable.
So what you are seeing at the site currently is the beginning signs of the redevelopment that will take place. The DSPA and the City of Duluth feel very strongly in the site that once their portion is cleaned up and the new utilities and infrastructure added in, that it really will help immensely in the revitalization of the site with new tenants. Ikonics Corporation was the first company to relocate to the site when in 2008 it purchased 40 acres of land and built it’s new warehouse.
Now what many people are saying to themselves at the current moment is that even with the help the city is starting to put into the site that it really will not change the fact that tenants are not interested in the site. But truth be told, it could change quite a bit. Currently in Duluth the largest sites for industrial development are limited to 15 acres. This new redevelopment of 123 acres of land at the former U.S. Steel site would finally open the needed space to industrial tenants who have not been able to locate to Duluth because of the limits of land. Once the ball starts to get really moving on the site, I think Duluth could see a whole new life sprout up at the former U.S. Steel site.
How does this relate to commercial development? New jobs = new homes = new/more people = need for retail development.