Out-of-towners go to “climate-proof Duluth”

“It hurts my heart,” she said. “I want my kids to be able to get their foot in the door and start a homestead and then potentially buy a bigger house when they get married and have kids. But it seems they can’t even afford the first house.”

Duluth isn’t the only city in America to have been branded a climate haven, and others, like Buffalo, have leaned on the label public relations and marketing campaigns. But in Duluth, Mayor Emily Larson distances herself from the idea.

“The idea that we are so ignorant of the needs of our planet that people have to move is terrifying. It’s dystopian,” she said in an interview inside Duluth City Hall, a large, cavernous granite building with Doric columns and arched windows. Built in 1928 as part of a Beaux-Arts civic center, it’s in the heart of what’s now derelict downtown Duluth, where cocktail bars and common areas form a checkerboard with abandoned storefronts. “I don’t want to take advantage of that.”

Ms. Larson, the city’s first female mayor, is in her second term and has championed sustainability Initiatives — Reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions; Investing in solar energy – a cornerstone of your management. She estimates that Duluth, whose current population is just under 87,000 people, has infrastructure for 130,000. But the housing stock is aging and limited – Affordable housing is scarce, and in 2021 the rental vacancy rate was just 2 percent.

Before welcoming an influx of new residents, the city must build for its current residents, or as she put it, “first put on our own oxygen mask,” Ms. Larson said. They need to create more apartment buildings, she said, and rehabilitate many of the city’s older, derelict buildings.

“People need refuge from the climate, but there is the potential for seismic conflict. So far, we’re navigating it,” she said.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/10/realestate/duluth-minnesota-climate-change.html Out-of-towners go to “climate-proof Duluth”


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