Historic former hotel in downtown Duluth to be revived as condos

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A historic former hotel in Duluth that has been sitting empty for years is set to be brought back into use by a husband and wife redevelopment team, who are turning it into condos.

The old Gardner Hotel on North Lake Avenue dates back to the 1890s, the Duluth News Tribune reports, but has been vacant for a decade.

In 2014, the hotel was bought for $250,000 by Mitchell and Michelle Holmes, who run Zenith City Revival LLC and are preparing to redevelop it.

They intend to build 12 condominium units of around 1,000 square feet in size, with the Business Journal reporting the property will be renamed "Building No. 12, Lofts on Lake."

Mitchell Holmes told PerfectDuluthDay the finished condo units will be selling for between $225,000 and $370,000, which he contends is well below the cheapest condos currently selling in downtown Duluth.

The couple, who live in Gary-New Duluth, have been operating a small construction business since 1999, the website notes, and though they have renovated residential property before, this is their first attempt at a larger, multi-unit project.

There has already been interest expressed by potential buyers, Holmes said, and in the longer term Holmes told the Duluth News Tribune they hope to install a skywalk link in the building.

History of the building

According to Zenith City, the four-story "Romanesque Revival" brick building began its life as The Tremont Hotel but switched to the Gardner Hotel under new owners prior to 1947 (possibly as early as 1922).

It ceased operating as a hotel in July 1975, two months after it was extensively damaged in a fire. At the time, around 25 people were living in the hotel, paying from $40 to $100 to stay in one of its 62 rooms.

It was turned into low-income housing after being sold to the Center City Housing Corporation in 1987, before the Zeppa Foundation bought it in 2007 with the intention of turning it into an arts and music center, which never materialized, Zenith City says.

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