The School District is about to collect $4 million of the $15 million it relied on to pay for the Red Plan by selling unneeded schools. $3 million of it comes from selling Woodland Middle School and surrounding property to a developer, Mr. Lambert, who seems intent on building the Duluth version of “Dinkytown” that has long been called for. I had not expected this and its welcome news except perhaps for the quiet neighborhood below 8th street which is full of big old family homes ripe for turning into college rentals. That includes my house as well which is currently surrounded by a dozen formerly single family homes. Its keeping the party traffic high and my property taxes a little lower.
I’d always imagined that the lightening quick growth of UMD, which led to the closing of Chester Park Elementary as family homes were turned into rental units, would lead to UMD’s buying Woodland from the District. I’d figured that a government to government sale would be pretty small potatoes – not $3 million. Then again when I was on the Board Chancellor Martin was building the college like a grass-fire and that led to the school jumping by three or four thousand students. Its great for the local economy and ultimately will help attract more people to Duluth and that will pull more people into the public schools.
Whether a Dinkytown develops or not remains to be seen. The original is a hodge podge of hundreds of businesses and rental units. Mr. Lambert’s will be more like a development by a single corporate entity which is likely to be far more upscale than funky. The nearby homeowners are likely to prefer that.
A major part of the property may be the large forest nestled between Mount Royal, Woodland Ave., the Middle School and Wallace Street. If that’s included in the deal and scheduled for paving over neighbors are likely to want to have a say in how its done. The deer won’t be included in that conversation.