Updated: 02/14/2014 6:11 PM
Created: 02/14/2014 7:19 AM WDIO.com
By: Alan Hoglund
Quick action by firefighters prevented what could have become a downtown disaster. The City of Duluth says a blaze at the historic NorShor Theatre is even more reason to properly restore it.
Firefighters responded to the century-old building on East Superior Street around 4:30 Friday morning. They said the cause was a failed blower motor for the building's heating system and estimate damage at $15,000.
The fire damage was limited to one room on the upper floor behind the theatre's upper auditorium. According to Chris Eng, the executive director of the Duluth Economic Development Authority, the reason it didn't spread is because the room "is entirely made out of clay bricks and...concrete walls."
Much of the building smelled of smoke late Friday morning, but Eng said that's because the blower likely circulated it around the building quickly during the fire.
Duluth Chief Communication and Policy Officer Daniel Fanning said "the reason that these things are happening is because this building hasn't been invested in in a long time."
Fanning and Eng told Eyewitness News that the city bought the building for $2.9 million in 2010. Since then, the city has received criticism about the cost and restoration plans from some of the community and city councilors.
However, Fanning said they've got a tremendous opportunity. "We have a private developer who is stepping up in a huge way and doing a bulk of the work," he said.
According to Eng, Sherman Associates will take over the building in September, and with tax credits and private dollars, will front more than half the cost of the $22 million restoration project. The city is hoping the rest will come from the state.
"This building has a lot of integrity, a lot of character, and it's a part of the downtown that we're really trying hard to revitalize," Eng said.
Eng said construction is expected to begin in the fall.
Three Attempted Murder Charges Filed Against Woman in Douglas Co. Shootout
Twenty two-year old Jessica Gehl of Lake Nebagamon was charged with three counts of attempted first degree intentional murder Friday after she allegedly pulled a gun on her mother and then opened fire on authorities Wednesday. Gehl was also charged with first-degree recklessly endangering safety.
Reinert 'Strongly Considering' Running for Duluth Mayor
When Duluth Mayor Don Ness announced earlier this month that he would not seek re-election, many people were surprised. On Friday, Sen. Roger Reinert said he is strongly considering entering the race.
Charge Against Woman in Arrest Video Dismissed
A judge has dismissed a charge against a woman seen in a video of a controversial Superior arrest. At a hearing Friday, Judge Kelly Thimm approved a motion to dismiss a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge against Natasha Lancour.
Justin's 2014-2015 Winter Prediction
Winter is right around the corner and the question on everybody's mind is will we have a winter like last year. With record stretches of cold and record snowfall last year is one we one like to forget. Chief meteorologist Justin Liles lets us know what we can expect this year
Woman in Douglas Co. Shootout was found Unresponsive in House Fire Day Before
A 22-year-old Lake Nebagamon woman was hospitalized on Wednesday evening after an armed standoff with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. On Tuesday, authorities say that same woman was found by her neighbors unresponsive and not breathing after they saw flames coming from a downtown Lake Nebagamon home.