Proposal to tear down former St. Mary’s building to go before City Council

Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 12:57 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2023 at 10:49 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - The future of Essentia Health’s former St. Mary’s building is looming.

“After about three years of discussion and study, Essentia Health and the Benedictine Sisters decided that the best use of this space would be to tear down the building,” said Louis St. George, Essentia Health’s external communication manager.

The former hospital’s doors and windows are currently boarded up following the opening of the new $900 million St. Mary’s Medical Center this past August.

“It’s 100 years old and it would be not viable to re-purpose it for a different use, whether that is housing or a different use,” said St. George.

To maintain the building as it is, it would cost Essentia $11.5 million dollars a year.

Hiring someone to re-purpose the building, including into housing, it could cost even more due to the old infrastructure.

According to city documents, the demolition could cost around $11.8 million in state bonding funds.

“They are sitting on those funds until Essentia and the city submit justification for the funding, and we will get reimbursed,” said Chad Ronchetti, the director for Duluth’s planning and economic development.

Before anything can be done to the former hospital, the Duluth City Council must vote on Monday to move ahead with tearing the building down.

That resolution was set during Thursday’s agenda-setting meeting.

“We as the city are simply supporting the decision that they have made, and helping it be a lawful and safe progression from their decision,” said Ronchetti.

However, Essentia leaders said the site is one of the few properties that the University of Minnesota has been looking at for a potential school of medicine and pharmacy.

“Whether that’s health care, education, job creation, we have some ideas of how we would like to see the space used,” said St. George.

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