No, they will remain independent departments and continue to hold independent programming. Much like retailers sharing space in a mall, these two entities will share a city building.
One of the benefits of pursuing a complete rebuild of the building is the ability to increase the square footage of the facility. This increase will ensure both departments will experience minimal changes to their current cumulative square footage and see efficiencies in shared communal spaces.
We intend to pay for this project without increasing local taxes. This endeavor will require a significant investment, and we understand the concerns of the community regarding funding. The City is actively seeking State bonding money and Federal funding to cover the costs of the project. The efforts to secure these funds will take place in 2024 and are crucial to advancing the project. The City intends to redirect operational savings that come directly from this project back into capital debt service to help pay for the project.
The City will continue library services downtown. An exact plan for library operations during construction has not been identified, but the City plans to lease temporary space to continue to serve patrons. The Mt. Royal and West Duluth Library Branches will remain open.
If the City is able to secure funding to rebuild, the downtown location will be closed during construction. The City will open a temporary location downtown for the duration of construction.
The City intends to rebuild at the current location at 520 W. Superior St.
After extensive evaluation of the condition of the building by city staff and experts from various disciplines, it was concluded that any renovation would require the building to be taken down to its studs. This extensive renovation would be costly, nearly equivalent to starting anew. The City believes that rebuilding from the ground up would be a more efficient and cost-effective way to achieve the necessary updates.
A multi-use facility not only creates funding opportunities at the state and federal level but will create additional city efficiencies. Not only will funds be used efficiently, but the library and workforce center could see additional benefits and space increases through shared public spaces like computer labs, meeting rooms, and event spaces. Not to mention, library patrons frequently use the library for workforce needs, leading to a natural partner in serving the community.
The project is currently estimated to be approximated $72 Million. This cost estimate is comprehensive and encompasses the entirety of the project including design, rebuilding, relocation during construction, furniture, technology and more.
CareerForce is a statewide system of partners who provide workforce development services to jobseekers and employers. Partners are co-located in workforce centers, creating a comprehensive one-stop where customers can access multiple services in one place. Partners at the CareerForce location in Duluth include the City’s workforce development department, as well as JET (the Northeast Minnesota Office of Job Training), the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA), and several entities within the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) including Vocational Rehabilitation Services, State Services for the Blind, Veterans Services, Job Service, and others.