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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Episode 131 -- Using the Space

Episode 131 - Using the space.

A Modest Proposal to use the space in the former Lincoln Elementary School.  It'll never happen, but here it is.

Hello there, just a quick one to fill the space.

A while back they shut down the Lincoln Elementary School.  It's not a new building, it's kinda huge, and there aren't a lot of practical uses for huge old schools.

A local organization is trying to push through funding for a project to turn it into housing, based on nearby signs I've seen.  There are two possible ways this could be a terrible idea.  If they want to turn it into expensive housing, it's a terrible idea because Duluth hasn't much use for more expensive housing, or for that matter the expensive housing we already have.  You're starting out with a building with lots of single rooms all by themselves, with none of their own plumbing.  So right off the bat you're going to have to do one hell of a lot of plumbing.  It'd be a tremendously expensive project, to produce something most of the city will have no practical use for.

Cheap housing?  If you want to go cheap enough, you could just stick with the shared bathrooms with way too small stalls.  No showers there, but you could maybe hack together some option for that.  And that's one issue, cheap enough.  If you try to keep it cheap enough to be useable by the people who really need it, it'll basically be a dump of a residence, and if you don't, there's no point in doing it in the first place.

So here's my alternative idea.  Daycare.

We have scattered across the city many small "daycare in my home" businesses.  They're licensed and regulated, so I'd assume they're legit businesses providing a valuable service, or we have crappy regulators.  I prefer to think positive.

And here we have this vast building, designed and used for years to keep kids in.  There was that education stuff they did, but they also kept a whole lot of kids in one building where they could be watched and regulated, and I suppose protected, too.

So, you rent out each classroom to one of those daycare operations.  They now have a space to keep the kids we know must be safe for kids, after all, we kept kids in there for a very long time.  There's plenty of bathrooms.  There's a big old place for feeding large numbers of kids.  There's a nurses office.  There's administrative space.  Seems perfect to me.

By providing the spaces, we make these small businesses more viable.  Sure, the spaces would be subsidized.  You think the big housing project thing isn't looking for government money?  But this is an obviously practical use of the building, because it's a sizeable chunk of what the building had been used for in the past.  We already know it'll work for the purpose.  Just a minor amount of modification, modernization and repurposing, and we've got it up and running.  Piece of cake.

Can't fill all the rooms?  Turn the rest into kid focused and parent focused stores and services.  How many of those are scattered randomly around the town?   Give them space at a decent price in a central location with most of their customers right there anyway, and they'll thrive.

Will this idea ever happen?  No, of course not.  There's no political capital to be gained from such a practical idea.  And I have no particular interest in running for office again, so I'm sure not going to push for it.  But hey, I did my part, I offered it to all of you.  Run with it.

That's it for me tonight.  I look forward to your comments on or, or on the comment line for the podcast, 218-234-CALL, that's 218-234-2255.  Later, kids.

Show Theme "Hot Swing" from Kevin MacLeod of

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