"Last Place" signs come down, Duluth officials say it's sign of a new downtown

By KBJR News 1

May 29, 2014 Updated May 29, 2014 at 10:19 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Duluth Coffee Company owner Eric Faust remembers all–too–well the months' worth of conversations with friends from the Twin Cities about the latest Last Place on Earth story in the news.

"And I'll say, 'oh, the place across the street from me,'" laughed Faust, as customers lined up behind him.

Faust says the business was a scar along East Superior Street, in Duluth's busy downtown community.

But since its closing last summer Faust says he and other business owners have been quick to put the memories behind them, and so have city officials.

It took crews less than an hour to remove the signage from the front of the building Thursday morning.

The building is now under the control of the U.S. Marshal Service, which city Community Relations officer Daniel Fanning says allowed them to remove the exterior signage due to what he called its blighted appearance.

"As you can imagine, the neighborhood is pretty excited about that," said Fanning, in front of the building as the signs came down Thursday, "not only is it one less reminder of the chaos that's been here, this is actually a step going forward, knowing that this community is going to be cleaned up."

The building still belongs to the family of Jim Carlson, who was found guilty in December 2013 of more than 50 counts of synthetic drug sales. He's currently being held in Sherburne County Jail.

City attorney Gunnar Johnson says the main goal with the building is to eventually see it back on the city's tax payroll as a functioning business.

"I hope that's it's filled with a different, more legitimate business someday," said Faust, "and somebody who contributes to, you know, the positive nature that we're trying to cultivate here."

As of Thursday evening, the Last Place's massive sign alongside the building's west side was still in place.

But when thinking about a possible future for the building, Faust says he's enjoying pondering the possibilities.

"I would love to paint my logo up on top of where Last Place on Earth is currently," laughed Faust, "because it's fantastic publicity all the way from I-35."

In the meantime, City Attorney Gunnar Johnson says the city is feeling confident about the eventual outcome in Carlson's appeals case against the city's ordinances that effectively shut the building down last summer.

Billy Wagness
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