Blog Downtown Greater Council

In the Middle of It All

April 17, 2017

I call all of downtown my office. It's not just a clever slogan. As part of my commercial properties brokerage business, I have the privilege of holding listings in Wells Fargo Center, the News Tribune building along with many others within the downtown area.

If you take the time to walk around downtown, you can't help but feel a new vital energy that's been building steadily over the last several years. New restaurants and spots for local bands are opening. On the east end of Superior Street, business owners and artists have forged partnerships and created our new, branded Historic Arts & Theater District, the Hart District. Our new Transportation Center shows our commitment to mass transit and managing city growth in ways that look to the future. On the west end of Superior Street, the new Maurices building has claimed its place on the Duluth skyline, joining buildings of industry that have created the city's profile for more than a century.

Our downtown corridor is also a place of constant renewal.  Development envisioned by the city and by others made it possible, for example, for Blacklist Artisan Ales to open up their taproom in the former Last Place on Earth space—transforming the character and vibe of the entire block.  These changes keep development dynamic and forward-thinking.

What's happening is more than just a feeling. The numbers are real and exciting, too. In the last several years, the city's population has grown, especially in the demographic representing 25-34 year olds. That demographic includes families, entrepreneurs, and skilled professionals looking for work. I'm encouraged by the growth--not just because it benefits my role as a networker and facilitator in helping entrepreneurs and businesses find the ideal spaces in our commercial real estate market. I'm also encouraged because I'm a mom to college and teenaged kids and my husband and I have made Duluth our home for some time now, taking full advantage of everything the city has to offer our family.

Our city is experiencing real commercial growth, with people taking more chances on starting their own small businesses. Established businesses are growing smartly, taking advantage of the skilled workforce that also continues to flourish. And families are putting down roots. Those families and professionals are spending money downtown. They're invested in revitalization. They're lovers of art and nightlife.

It’s a great time to be a commercial broker with downtown listings.  The views are unparalleled in the city.  The business community is so supportive when it comes to new tenants.  The draw of great food, great entertainment, and the arts brings people downtown and keeps them here day or night.   When it comes down to considering the whole picture for placing a business, all of these things come into play.

As I drive around this city I call my office, I'm more encouraged than ever before about city growth, with our downtown being the epicenter and vital nexus of that growth. I'm excited to put entrepreneurs in the middle of it all. I feel a new energy as I take my place with others on the Greater Downtown Council board. And, ultimately, I know that all of these pieces fit together in my family life as Duluth takes its place as a true destination for life. And for business! Let's get moving!

-Shelley Jones is the founder and broker of Jones Group of Duluth and a GDC Board Member