City leaders, downtown businesses hopeful about new downtown culture after Carlson sentencing

By KBJR News 1

August 15, 2014 Updated Aug 15, 2014 at 5:40 PM CST

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com)--- Last Place on Earth owner Jim Carlson will spend the next 17 and a half years in federal prison, putting an end to a three year battle by city leaders to get synthetic drugs off the streets of Duluth.

"I think justice has been served for those individuals and families whose lives have been devastated by the sale and consumption of these synthetic drug," said Duluth Mayor Don Ness.

The headshop's doors have been closed since last July... the large crowds and long line of customers outside waiting to buy synthetics have vanished. Mayor Ness says the downtown area has seen a dramatic change.

"It's amazing to see what the removal of a significant problem-the positive effect that that can bring," said mayor Ness.

Workers at Coney Island, kitty corner from Last Place, are breathing a sigh of relief that the headshop won't be back in business anytime soon.

"Our owners are,we're really excited about it. It's just been kind of a weight off our shoulders," said Nolan Graff, Asst. Manager at Coney Island.

Graff says customers notice a lot more inviting, friendly downtown atmosphere.

"They'll come up here and say oh yeah, it's a lot nicer. They can tell how much nicer it is," said Graff .

The Duluth Coffee Company set up shop two years ago near Last Place. The owner says the head shop brought in a clientele that didn't mix with his.

"I didn't necessarily want him to have his business on this street and I was happy to see it go," said Owner Eric Faust.

Faust says the closure of Carlson's shop, has made way for a new energy in the downtown business district.

"I'm glad we, as in East Superior Street and Superior Street as a whole have just decided to develop a different culture," said Faust.

and all of the city's hard work has paid off

"This was one of the most significant problems facing our community so to have that sort of very definitive solution and to remove that problem from our downtown so that private business and private entrepreneurs can thrive, it is gratifying," said Mayor Ness.

In hopes they have seen the last of Last Place.

The Last Place on Earth building was seized by the U.S. Marshall's Office, and it could be another year before it is determined what is done with the building.

Mayor Don Ness says the city of Duluth has no interest in purchasing the building, due to it's poor condition.

Written and Posted to the web by Raeanna Marnati
rmarnati@Kbjr.com