By Kelli Latuska
At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Mayor Emily Larson and Brian Forcier, Principal at Titanium Partners, announced a conversion project at the Ordean Building and the adjacent Ordean Plaza that will adapt the structure into a mixed-use building bringing up to 35 new dwelling units to downtown Duluth.
“Following the presentation this past Tuesday of the Zimmerman/Volk Associates Downtown Housing Market Study, we’re especially excited to announce that, through an upcoming conveyance of City-owned property to Titanium Partners, the Ordean Building will be bringing new housing units to the Downtown neighborhood,” said Larson. “We know that bringing more residents into Downtown means more activation and more revitalization of the heart of this City, and we couldn’t be more grateful to our DEDA commissioners and to Brian and Titanium Partners for their vision and cooperative work to make these new units happen, breathing new life into this beautiful property. This development is just the start—Downtown’s best days are ahead, and the next ten years are going to be amazing.”
A resolution and ordinance on Monday’s City Council meeting agenda would allow for the transfer of the adjacent Ordean Plaza, a small courtyard-like property abutting the Ordean Building from the City of Duluth to DEDA. A simultaneous resolution on the next DEDA meeting agenda will permit the sale of Ordean Plaza to Titanium Partners to allow them further repair and revitalization of the building in their conversion to mixed-use with housing on the upper floors of the building.
“I’d like to thank the Mayor’s office, city administration, and city staff involved who worked to help facilitate this much needed step in utilizing and improving the Plaza as a gateway to our downtown," said Forcier. "Titanium Partners has and will continue its revitalization efforts and investment into our downtown central business district and remains vigilant in working with the City of Duluth to promote our city whenever possible.”
Chad Ronchetti, Director of Planning and Economic Development for the City of Duluth, said of the project, “These first few weeks in my role confirm the strong economic direction and opportunity here in Duluth, and in downtown in particular. Reinvigorating downtown in a post-pandemic reality with residential investment is a strategy I am in full support of. We are grateful for the partnership we have with Titanium on this critical adaptive reuse project. This partnership accomplishes goals set forth in both the Downtown Housing Study and the Economic Development Audit, and we look forward continuing to enhance our relationships with the development community.”
Titanium Partners began reimagining the Ordean Building, located at 424 W. Superior Street, after purchasing it from the Ordean Foundation in 2019. Titanium Partners is in in the final design stages currently, but this reuse will include up to 35 residential units on the upper five floors and will accompany 10,000 square feet of commercial space on the first two floors.
The conveyance of Ordean Plaza is supported by the City’s Imagine Duluth Comprehensive Plan’s first principle: Reuse previously developed lands. Reuse of previously developed lands, including adaptive reuse of existing building stock and historic resources, directs new investment to sites which have the potential to perform at a higher level than their current state. This strengthens neighborhoods and is preferred to a dispersed development pattern with associated alteration of natural landscapes and extensions of public services. Site preparation or building modification costs are offset by savings in existing public infrastructure such as streets and utilities, and transit, fire, and police services.