For years, the abandoned U.S. Steel property has sat as a neglected scar of land in Morgan Park. Once the economic engine of the area, the fenced-off contaminated site now serves as a constant reminder of how times have changed.
Well, the Duluth Seaway Port Authority is working to purchase the property and return it to productive use as an industrial park.
"We still have issues to resolve, but we’re very close," said Andy McDonough, business development director for the authority.
Adolph Ojard, executive director of the port authority, offered a similarly upbeat assessment of negotiations during a meeting with his board of commissioners Thursday morning.
"We’re still talking. We’re still progressing," he said.
On Monday, the Duluth City Council is expected to take up a resolution that would open the way for the port authority to use tax-increment financing to help foster redevelopment of the property. The council is being asked to sign off on a special exception to state rules governing the use of the tax subsidy program. These changes were approved by the Minnesota State Legislature last session, but they require local consent, as well.
Typically, tax-increment financing collected for a property is required to be spent within five years. Ojard sees the U.S. Steel project moving much slower; hence, the need for a bending of the tax-increment financing rules. He said the Port Authority expects it will take at least 15 to 20 years to see the long-neglected area cleaned up and revitalized.
It will be a long journey, but it’s time to start walking.