DISCLAIMER

 

06-008-O

ORDINANCE NO. __________


AN ORDINANCE AMENDING ORDINANCE NO. 8792, TO EXPAND THE USES WITHIN THE SKYWAY OVER LAKE AVENUE IN THE CITY OF DULUTH (WELCH BUILDING LLC).

BY COUNCILOR GILBERT:

The city of Duluth does ordain:

     Section 1. That the limitations of Ordinance No. 8792, passed June 23, 1986, be amended to allow for either pedestrian connector or general office use of the structure, subject to compliance with applicable building and life safety codes; further that:

     (a)  There shall be no walls, partitions, signage or other uses within the structure which obstruct the existing windows;

     (b)  That all other terms of Ordinance No. 8972 remain in force and effect.

     Section 2. That this ordinance shall take effect and be in force 30 days from and after its passage and publication.

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE:  Ordinance No. 8792 was approved by the council on June 23, 1986. This ordinance granted a concurrent use permit to Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, Inc., “to construct, maintain and use and keep in repair a skyway, viaduct or overpass” over Lake Avenue. At that time HBJ owned both adjoining buildings. The buildings are now under separate ownership. The skyway is the property of Welch Building LLC, 1 East First Street.


This ordinance provides for amendments to Ordinance No. 8972 to allow for either a pedestrian connector or general office use of the structure, subject to compliance with applicable building and life safety codes; and further, that:

     (a)  There shall be no walls, partitions, signage or other uses within the structure which obstruct the existing windows;

     (b)  That all other terms of Ordinance No. 8972 remain in force and effect.


A suggested floor plan has been submitted entitled “Third Floor Remodeling- Customer Link.”


The planning commission heard this request at its regular meetings of February 14 and March 14, 2006, and after consideration of the amendments contained in this ordinance, unanimously recommended approval (FN 06-009).


In their deliberations, the commission considered the following issues:

     (a)  Concurrent use permits are issued for private use of public rights-of-way when a public benefit is identified. In the original application, the public interest was the promotion of building renovation along with business and employment expansion in the central business district;

     (b)  The original applicant, as well as first and second successors, are no longer in business in Duluth;

     (c)  The current owners of 1 East First Street now wish to take advantage of the investment made in the existing structure to benefit their building;

     (d)  Revocation of the current permit requires removal upon of the skyway and the restoration of the affected buildings;

     (e)  The view corridor down Lake Avenue toward Canal Park and the lake is impacted by this bridge. Future public skywalk plans call for an additional public bridge structure to be located across Lake Avenue at First Alley to connect the 1 West Superior Street building with the Soft Center parking ramp on West First Street;

     (f)  Does the potential exist for a future reopening of this connection between the buildings? In order to support the retention of this structure, the answer should be yes. The current application of the building code does require that the connection be closed at the west end of this structure. However, this connection could be reopened at a future time;

     (g)  Does this request meet the public purpose of “business and employment expansion in the central business district” as presented to the planning commission and council in 1986? Staff feels that it could be argued that this purpose is effective in consideration of this request. Office use of the structure may result in business retention and/or expansion in the BCD.