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Duluth businessman hopes to turn old jail into filmmaking destination

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Could Duluth be the location for a "Shawshank Redemption"-type of film?

If a Duluth businessman Grant Carlson has his way, the former St. Louis County Jail will soon be a destination for filmmakers and musicians, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

According to the paper, Carlson -- who bought the facility in 2010 for $54,000 -- is looking for creative types to consider the jail as a location for future projects.

The five-story facility was built in 1924 and at one time housed up to 200 inmates. Before Carlson bought it, the jail was scheduled to be torn down -- until area historians brought those plans to a halt and the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota named it one of Minnesota’s most endangered historic places.

As part of the Duluth Superior Film Festival, which runs May 29- June 2, Carlson is hosting a reception for filmmakers from all over the country on June 1.

Carlson told the News Tribune that he can envision lots of uses for the unique space, and that the "biggest assets are the jail cells."

The paper said the businessman originally purchased the jail and planned on converting it from office space into living space -- but the slow economic recovery forced him to change directions. Carlson now wants to partner with a developer to finish his renovation of the space after he spent $500,000 to fix the roof and exterior faces.

The Upper Midwest Film Office is on board with idea of turning the old jail into a film location.

The office's director, Riki McManus, told the News Tribune that "Duluth is a very film-friendly community and this certainly adds to the strong arts scene" in the city.

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