Fond du Lac Band says Carter Hotel Should Come Down, Bureau of Indian Affairs Agrees

By KBJR News 1

February 4, 2013 Updated Feb 4, 2013 at 7:36 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - When the Carter Hotel was purchased by the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in December 2010, it was vacant and already in a run–down state.

But, three heatless winters and June's historic flood have made salvaging the structure impossible, says Tribal Chairwoman Karen Diver. Following a November inspection by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, both groups say the building should come down.

"They did not feel that the building was worth rehabbing in its current state," said Diver during a Monday interview.

But, any future demolition on the Carter Hotel could be put to a halt under the premise of historical preservation.

According to the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office, the 83–year–old building contributes to the character of Duluth's Commercial Historical District, which means it would need to be deemed unsalvageable with no economic alternative before it could come down.

Ken Buehler, of the Duluth Historic Preservation Commission, says Duluth already has an "embarrassing" number of historical structures.

"Part of the reason people come here in such great numbers is because our downtown looks so different from other downtowns—it's filled with old, beautiful, historic buildings," said Buehler.

It's that reason, says Duluth City Attorney Gunnar Johnson, that the city and the State Historic Preservation Office have asked the BIA to see the feasibility study and inspection results.

Meanwhile, Diver says the Band is continuing with their attempt to put the land on which the hotel sits into trust. If that happens the land would no longer be taxed by the city, and options—including a possible casino expansion—would open even wider for the Band.

"A lot of options are on the table, but we'll do our best to be a good neighbor while we're down there," said Diver.

Johnson says the city has yet to hear from the BIA on their request.

One alternative for the building, says Buehler, could be adaptive re–use, which would preserve the historical exterior while saving money on more expensive demolition costs.

But Diver says any alternative to demolition doesn't seem feasible.

- Posted to the Web by Billy Wagness