More changes are coming to downtown Duluth including a 1 million dollar overhaul of the public plaza next door to the Allete Inc. corporate headquarters at the corner of Lake Avenue and Superior Street .

Allete, which is the parent company of Minnesota Power, will be covering the cost of revitalizing the plaza. Tina Koecher, Allete's manager of customer experience operations said to the Duluth News Tribune "It's a significant investment. But it's a private corporate investment. It's not a utility investment in the plaza."

Koecher  said the plans have been in development since last summer and went on to the Duluth News Tribune  "We used a collaborative stakeholder process to develop the design," Koecher said.

One of the main changes is the points of entry into the plaza which will handicapped accessible. They are calling them "stramps" which has stairs and a wheelchair ramp as well as seating on the concrete. They are hoping that this structure will be used as a Farmers Market One day and then a possible performance space the next.

The new design will have lots of greenery and tons of seating as well. They definitely designed this are to be accessed and enjoyed by the public. Some other designs are "cafe-style seating will be installed along with suspended catenary lighting in a corner of the plaza, closer to Allete's headquarters. On the lower side of the plaza, the design calls for a deck with bench swings on it and solar canopies above."

Koecher also said to Duluth News Tribune "One of the things we really hope the plaza will represent is a bright spot in our downtown for when we are able to safely gather together again," she said. "We want this to be a warm, inviting place for doing so."

Koecher went on to say " Allete fully understands that the plaza will continue to serve as a public space where people are free to express their political views. We're comfortable with the fact that this is a public space, and that it's for the community. Absolutely, we're comfortable with that, As long as folks are safely and respectfully using this space. I think that's completely reasonable."

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