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Lakewalk Center construction inconviences some, but benefits many

By DAVID BUCKNER
DCN Reporter

Steel beams and a large crane stand surrounded by mounds of dirt and blocks of concrete. A cement truck rumbles by, overpowering the sound of nail guns and backhoes.

The Lakewalk Center on London Road is in the middle of an expansion that will make room for more offices, but not everyone is happy about it.

“It’s blocking a beautiful view,? said Jessica Rath who lives across the street from the Lakewalk Center. “One of the reasons we got the place was because of the view and now we won’t have it.?

Katie Toumi also lives close to the ongoing project, just a block away. Though, she hasn’t had much trouble with the construction at her own house, her boyfriend’s house, next door to the Lakewalk Center, has been a different story.

According to Toumi, part of the house’s driveway overlapped with the Lakewalk Center property. As a result, the driveway was altered and construction took place very close to the house.

“They tore up the whole driveway,? said Toumi. “Do they not even think about the fact that people live there??

Toumi explained that heavy machinery could be heard as early as 6 a.m. She said that it’s not the construction workers who are at fault, but better planning and communication could have made it easier on residents.

Though troubled with the inconvenience of construction, both Rath and Toumi recognize that the project does come with positives.

“It pulls more people here, and that obviously helps the city,? said Rath.

Toumi likes that the area is getting a fresh look. Several run down buildings have been demolished in the last year or so, and new projects are popping up in their place.

“It definitely seems like they’re making plans to revitalize it,? said Toumi.

Parker Bambenek works at Marine General, across the street from the Lakewalk Center. He feels that the project is a positive for the city.

“This part of the community is more business oriented anyway,? said Bambenek. “It brings more business to Duluth and we need that. If there are a lot more people working and visiting at the Lakewalk, it could bring more people to shop.?

Kathy Marinac works in property and asset management for A & L Properties, the company who develops and leases the expansion. She said that the project has the possibility of drawing more business to the area.

It has already played a role in at least one business setting up shop in the area. A new Italian restaurant, Valentini’s Vicino Lago, is being built right next to the Lakewalk Center.

The restaurant owner, Carol Valentini, said that one factor in determining the location was the expansion of the Lakewalk Center. Also, because the employees of the Lakewalk Center don't have a food service, Valentini hopes it will help in bringing in customers.

As for the view of the lake, Marinac said the space is being utilized.

“Those particular buildings are going to have great views from the building and the tenants get a great view,? she said.