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Old 01-22-2010, 09:45 PM
 
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first st is not that bad at all. I used to live on 1st e and 1st. If anything else I found it funny to watch all the night life that went on.
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Old 02-08-2010, 02:59 PM
 
Location: International Falls, Minnesota
232 posts, read 396,385 times
Reputation: 286
It's always interesting to hear people's perceptions of First Street, particularly between, say, 6th Ave W - 6th Ave E. That whole mile is a real story in developmental trends over the last 50 years. First my dad worked downtown (KDLH from '60-'92 which is near 1st St; then I worked at the Duluth YWCA which was at 202 W 2nd St and closed as of 1/1/09 - we had 90 single-room occupancy units, most of our 'residents' were regulars down on First Street). Over the last ten years there have been a lot of growing pains on First Street. At 414 W First, you have the old Plumbing Building which had been turned into condos (I went to the open house - fabulous units! The ones in the back have a rooftop patio with a great view of the lake and downtown). However, for the average worker, a quarter of a million is too much. My guess is those units are either empty or are now rentals. *Duluth's problem is that it hits these trends about ten years too late*. At 302 W First you have the YMCA which was looking to raise $4M for a renovation, but fell short of that goal. Biggest complaint has been safety and parking - you must part two or more blocks away in a ramp and walk over there. Many people suggested that the Y have a small space downtown for corporate (noontime) fitness workouts, and a family-oriented Y that is centrally located near the mall or someplace that has access to hiking trails, a modern building with an olympic-sized pool, climbing wall, with 2010-style amenities. The current Y is stuck in 1980 - it looks old, the building is a maze, and a lot of parents I know don't want to drop their kids off there.

As you get further east, it gets interesting: at 16 W First (I even checked into this one because I love urban living) the Bridgeman-Russell Apartments were renovated, modernized, and solidly built with nothing but the best - however, you have no view of anything besides the local (CHUM Homeless) shelter and First Street, there is no skyway access, and the rents go well over $800 (downtown Minneapolis units go for less than that with much more cultural activities and a grocery store). Again, the average downtown Duluth worker does not have that amount of money to afford an apartment like that. My guess is that most apartments there are empty. On the other hand, the Urban Studio Apartments, a fantastic idea that the local company Women in Construction (right above 1st St & 1st Ave W) built a small building with 9 studio apartments, priced for average-wage downtown hourly workers (about $425 a month) - WE NEED MORE OF THIS in order to get young people who work interested in a downtown community.

East to 6th Ave E
Lake & 1st has always been known for prostitution and drug activity. On the southwest corner, there used to be one of the city's worst bars (the Shisk-ka-Bar) which is now another building that has been renovated and looks terrific. They do have a few tenants and if you get a chance, step inside and look around. It's amazing what they've done with the space. If Duluth has anything close to a 'skid row', this next block is it. I remember in 1993 when I checked out a renovated property which was supposed to turn around 'old downtown' called the Frances Skinner Apartments (102 E 1st St). It received a certain amount of housing assistance and most of the tenants were responsible and worked. Now, if there's a fight downtown, or a drug deal gone bad, or a street robbery, the 'Skinner' is the first place the cops look. I can say this because I work at an ER, but many of the young women who hook up with the guys who are hanging around there and dealing heroin are now becoming HIV+ because of the IV use of both heroin and meth. It's a very big problem but is not getting a lot of media attention because of the sensitivity of HIV and the men who are coming up here to sell this stuff (many come from Illinois, which has a three-strikes law; most of these guys have their two felonies and have escaped to Minnesota - they find an easy local girl to shack up with, usually she does not know about his HIV status OR the fact that he's using her apartment to sell drugs out of. Usually by the time these girls find out about their HIV status the guy is long gone or back in prison (it's still unclear whether these guys become HIV+ through sexual activity (in prison), drug use, or the amount of women they are having sex with). The sauna that is just below 1st St on 1st Ave E (duluthsauna.com) has been mostly a gay sauna downstairs for years, little is known among the general public. But my take is that it's much safer to hook up at the sauna, which provides condoms, safer sex information, and most importantly, a neutral place to meet other men rather than take the chance of meeting someone who could end up ransacking your house, beating you up and/or stealing all your belongings. Unfortunately, while the sauna has mostly been a quiet, decent place, the female prostitutes from the surrounding area have been using the private rooms (on the first level) to turn tricks for a while. There have been a few busts lately since the other big prostitution place (Yoshiko Sauna on 21st Ave W) closed. As you get to 2nd Ave E & 1st St is where you hit rock bottom - the Kozy Bar and the rooms above them. This is one of the only places in the city that allows Level III sex offenders live, along with the least desirable renters in the city (who have to live somewhere, but putting them all in the same building has proven to be a bad idea)...about a half block east at 219 E 1st St is the Union Gospel Mission where most downtown homeless find a meal, sometimes a place to sleep for the night and once in a while there will be a county health nurse to provide free checkups and that sort of thing.

Now, as you get to 4th Ave E & 1st St it changes. You've got the new condos and Sheraton Hotel. You've got the SMDC (St. Mary's Duluth Clinic) smdc.org medical campus and clinics. I've heard rumors that Saint Mary's during the next ten years will need to build a new hospital, and the one on Third Street will go, and a new hospital could possibly be built down that area of 1st Street that is known for the worst problems (this hospital would not be as tall as the current St. Mary's, so it would take up at least a few city blocks, if it were built at 1-2nd Ave E it would connect with the new Duluth Clinic buildings that start at 4th Avenue East. This would tie in perfectly and at the same time clean up the worst part of downtown. While I feel bad that some people will be displaced, one thing that really needs to happen is ridding that part of downtown of the people who inhabit it. For the couple of social service agencies (that do great work) that are there, you can not help street addicts or HIV+ homeless if you also have the very temptations that got them in that situation right outside these social service places. There needs to be a place for the homeless to congregate, but it needs to be away from the street dealers and those who are looking to take advantage of the girls, or anyone really. I also think that if you were to clean up that area around 1st and 2nd Ave E people would feel much more comfortable considering a move to downtown and same with businesses.

(climbing off soapbox, thanks for reading)

j
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Old 02-11-2010, 07:45 PM
 
432 posts, read 706,036 times
Reputation: 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duluth07 View Post
It's always interesting to hear people's perceptions of First Street, particularly between, say, 6th Ave W - 6th Ave E. That whole mile is a real story in developmental trends over the last 50 years. First my dad worked downtown (KDLH from '60-'92 which is near 1st St; then I worked at the Duluth YWCA which was at 202 W 2nd St and closed as of 1/1/09 - we had 90 single-room occupancy units, most of our 'residents' were regulars down on First Street). Over the last ten years there have been a lot of growing pains on First Street. At 414 W First, you have the old Plumbing Building which had been turned into condos (I went to the open house - fabulous units! The ones in the back have a rooftop patio with a great view of the lake and downtown). However, for the average worker, a quarter of a million is too much. My guess is those units are either empty or are now rentals. *Duluth's problem is that it hits these trends about ten years too late*. At 302 W First you have the YMCA which was looking to raise $4M for a renovation, but fell short of that goal. Biggest complaint has been safety and parking - you must part two or more blocks away in a ramp and walk over there. Many people suggested that the Y have a small space downtown for corporate (noontime) fitness workouts, and a family-oriented Y that is centrally located near the mall or someplace that has access to hiking trails, a modern building with an olympic-sized pool, climbing wall, with 2010-style amenities. The current Y is stuck in 1980 - it looks old, the building is a maze, and a lot of parents I know don't want to drop their kids off there.

As you get further east, it gets interesting: at 16 W First (I even checked into this one because I love urban living) the Bridgeman-Russell Apartments were renovated, modernized, and solidly built with nothing but the best - however, you have no view of anything besides the local (CHUM Homeless) shelter and First Street, there is no skyway access, and the rents go well over $800 (downtown Minneapolis units go for less than that with much more cultural activities and a grocery store). Again, the average downtown Duluth worker does not have that amount of money to afford an apartment like that. My guess is that most apartments there are empty. On the other hand, the Urban Studio Apartments, a fantastic idea that the local company Women in Construction (right above 1st St & 1st Ave W) built a small building with 9 studio apartments, priced for average-wage downtown hourly workers (about $425 a month) - WE NEED MORE OF THIS in order to get young people who work interested in a downtown community.

East to 6th Ave E
Lake & 1st has always been known for prostitution and drug activity. On the southwest corner, there used to be one of the city's worst bars (the Shisk-ka-Bar) which is now another building that has been renovated and looks terrific. They do have a few tenants and if you get a chance, step inside and look around. It's amazing what they've done with the space. If Duluth has anything close to a 'skid row', this next block is it. I remember in 1993 when I checked out a renovated property which was supposed to turn around 'old downtown' called the Frances Skinner Apartments (102 E 1st St). It received a certain amount of housing assistance and most of the tenants were responsible and worked. Now, if there's a fight downtown, or a drug deal gone bad, or a street robbery, the 'Skinner' is the first place the cops look. I can say this because I work at an ER, but many of the young women who hook up with the guys who are hanging around there and dealing heroin are now becoming HIV+ because of the IV use of both heroin and meth. It's a very big problem but is not getting a lot of media attention because of the sensitivity of HIV and the men who are coming up here to sell this stuff (many come from Illinois, which has a three-strikes law; most of these guys have their two felonies and have escaped to Minnesota - they find an easy local girl to shack up with, usually she does not know about his HIV status OR the fact that he's using her apartment to sell drugs out of. Usually by the time these girls find out about their HIV status the guy is long gone or back in prison (it's still unclear whether these guys become HIV+ through sexual activity (in prison), drug use, or the amount of women they are having sex with). The sauna that is just below 1st St on 1st Ave E (duluthsauna.com) has been mostly a gay sauna downstairs for years, little is known among the general public. But my take is that it's much safer to hook up at the sauna, which provides condoms, safer sex information, and most importantly, a neutral place to meet other men rather than take the chance of meeting someone who could end up ransacking your house, beating you up and/or stealing all your belongings. Unfortunately, while the sauna has mostly been a quiet, decent place, the female prostitutes from the surrounding area have been using the private rooms (on the first level) to turn tricks for a while. There have been a few busts lately since the other big prostitution place (Yoshiko Sauna on 21st Ave W) closed. As you get to 2nd Ave E & 1st St is where you hit rock bottom - the Kozy Bar and the rooms above them. This is one of the only places in the city that allows Level III sex offenders live, along with the least desirable renters in the city (who have to live somewhere, but putting them all in the same building has proven to be a bad idea)...about a half block east at 219 E 1st St is the Union Gospel Mission where most downtown homeless find a meal, sometimes a place to sleep for the night and once in a while there will be a county health nurse to provide free checkups and that sort of thing.

Now, as you get to 4th Ave E & 1st St it changes. You've got the new condos and Sheraton Hotel. You've got the SMDC (St. Mary's Duluth Clinic) smdc.org medical campus and clinics. I've heard rumors that Saint Mary's during the next ten years will need to build a new hospital, and the one on Third Street will go, and a new hospital could possibly be built down that area of 1st Street that is known for the worst problems (this hospital would not be as tall as the current St. Mary's, so it would take up at least a few city blocks, if it were built at 1-2nd Ave E it would connect with the new Duluth Clinic buildings that start at 4th Avenue East. This would tie in perfectly and at the same time clean up the worst part of downtown. While I feel bad that some people will be displaced, one thing that really needs to happen is ridding that part of downtown of the people who inhabit it. For the couple of social service agencies (that do great work) that are there, you can not help street addicts or HIV+ homeless if you also have the very temptations that got them in that situation right outside these social service places. There needs to be a place for the homeless to congregate, but it needs to be away from the street dealers and those who are looking to take advantage of the girls, or anyone really. I also think that if you were to clean up that area around 1st and 2nd Ave E people would feel much more comfortable considering a move to downtown and same with businesses.

(climbing off soapbox, thanks for reading)

j
Duluth07, can you tell me where you heard of St.Mary's building a new hospital? I find it hard to believe being they have added to and remodeled their current building very recently and even planned to add on a floor a few years back around the time the First Street building was being planned. I have also heard that St.Mary's wants to build a children's hospital and St.Lukes had talked about building an entirely new hospital, but that was 10 years ago or so. I hope if the new buildings get built, that they make them tall, East Downtown is starting to look really cool!
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Old 02-11-2010, 09:55 PM
 
Location: MN
3,738 posts, read 5,068,287 times
Reputation: 1629
Duluth is rad. I was watching Great Outdoors last night and saw a guy wearing a Duluth T-shirt.


When I was in San Diego, I met a group of younger guys my age having a bon fire on the beach. I told them I was from Duluth, and they all knew where it was! Nationally known baby!
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Old 02-12-2010, 06:51 AM
 
Location: AZ
1,382 posts, read 2,641,955 times
Reputation: 633
Quote:
Originally Posted by knke0204 View Post
Duluth is rad. I was watching Great Outdoors last night and saw a guy wearing a Duluth T-shirt.


When I was in San Diego, I met a group of younger guys my age having a bon fire on the beach. I told them I was from Duluth, and they all knew where it was! Nationally known baby!
Maybe they saw the SNL skit, "Fly High Duluth"
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