St. Louis River Corridor

Slrcorridorvisioning Map Lo Res

Vision for the St. Louis River Corridor
An Outdoor Recreation Destination and Environmental Education Hub

“There’s no question that if not for Lake Superior, Duluth would be defined as a river city. Duluth should be defined by both the world’s greatest lake AND the world’s largest fresh water estuary. By doing so, we open up many possibilities along the River.” – Mayor Don Ness

In 2009, Mayor Ness organized a St. Louis River Corridor Summit and brought over 70 stakeholders together to develop a comprehensive vision for the area. Many of the ideas generated then are now being fully developed and some are already being implemented.

The River has required many years of intensive remediation, a major shift in common practices, and a commitment of stewardship from the whole community.   Yet today, thanks to four decades of effort, the St. Louis River is a place to fish, kayak, and take in the beautiful riverfront. An even more aggressive cleanup effort is planned over the next 10 years.

When this vision comes to life, the St. Louis River Corridor will see tremendous job growth across multiple sectors, with exciting opportunities to create light industrial and skilled manufacturing jobs.  This area offers amazing strengths as a modern industrial park, including: Over 1,000 acres of potential industrial sites; extensive utility infrastructure and rail availability; shipping capacity and waterfront  sites; and a skilled, loyal workforce that continues Duluth’s proud industrial heritage.

These efforts will also turn this scenic area into an outdoor adventure destination. Just as Canal Park has become a premier tourist destination, the St. Louis River recreation area will become our City’s next great visitor experience – bringing millions of dollars into our economy and enhancing amenities for visitors and residents.

Spirit Mountain, the Lake Superior Zoo, and Indian Point Campground serve as focal points of this outdoor recreational hub. Our goal is to make a seamless, well-integrated family experience using the amazing natural attributes of these three sites and the surrounding area. World-class trail systems and improved river access will provide days-worth of activities for people of all ages and abilities.

Reestablishing the ½ and ½ Tourism Tax

The half of one percent tourism tax is the most important tool to implement this vision.  For 15 years, tourism taxes have been collected across our city and spent for capital improvements in Canal Park.  Now it’s time for these dollars to be dedicated to growing a new economy in St. Louis River Corridor.
The City of Duluth has wisely invested tourism tax revenues ever since the first tax was approved by the Legislature in 1968. Hotels, motels and bars and restaurants citywide collect taxes, which are invested in amenities like the Lakewalk, the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, the Great Lakes Aquarium, the Depot, Spirit Mountain Recreation Area and the Lake Superior Zoo, as well as promotion of tourism, largely through Visit Duluth.  The most recent hospitality tax approved by the Legislature in 1998 – an additional half percent on the lodging tax and half percent on food and beverage sales tax – expired early than anticipated because the bonds were retired.

The intentional concentration of tourism tax investments in the Canal Park area has created unprecedented access to Lake Superior and an entertainment and retail hub for tourists and residents alike. It is a destination known nationwide. It's now time to do the same for the River Corridor.

The St. Louis River Corridor will be the next Duluth destination to become known and loved around the country. Using the proceeds from a new half and half tourism tax, the City will work with community members, business owners and existing amenities to begin refining and implementing this vision.

Thanks to our local State delegation, the State did grant grant the City of Duluth the authority to re-establish the 1/2 and 1/2 tax during the 2014 Legislative Session. Now City staff will begin an aggressive outreach campaign to gather input from the community and present the City Council with a more detailed plan mid-summer. We want your input.
Investments may include:
• $1-2M for unfunded flood recovery and updates at the Lake Superior Zoo
• $1-2M for the Spirit Mountain Recreation Area
• $2.2M for Wade Stadium, State bonding match
• $3-5M for Improved River Access and Trails Improvements including:
    • Extension of the Western Waterfront Trail
    • Indian Point Park, expansion and improvements
    • Spirit Bay Park, expansion and improvements
    • Blackmer Park, expansion and improvements
• $2M for additional trail improvements and enhanced river access
• $1-3M for upgrades to neighborhood parks and community centers

Additional ideas/suggestions? Please share your thoughts. Thank you!

St. Louis River Corridor

Please provide us feedback on what's important to you in the development of the River Corridor. Thank you.


Daniel Fanning
Communications & Policy Director - Mayor's Office
(218) 730-5307


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