Superior council postpones decision on Carnegie Library

Mayor Jim Paine requested the delay to give city officials more time to gather information.

(Jed Carlson/ A $2.5 million renovation of the historic Carnegie library on Hammond Avenue to create co-working spaces is in the works.
Wisconsin's first Carnegie Library was built at 1204 Hammond Ave., opened in 1902. It closed in 1992 and has remained vacant ever since.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
We are part of The Trust Project.

SUPERIOR — The Superior City Council again delayed consideration of a proposal to purchase the Carnegie Library, 1204 Hammond Ave., at the request of the mayor on Tuesday, June 21.

The delay will give city staff additional time to gather information and evaluate the building.

“We do have some more information coming, including some inspections,” Paine said. He said building inspection would be going through the building this week.

“Do we have a plan yet?” Councilor Brent Fennessey asked. “Say we purchase this, which I’m still not convinced that’s the best decision to make, then what?”

Fennessey said he’s not in favor of acquiring a $7 million project and hope the city comes up with a use for it.


The cost is the most recent estimate obtained by the current owner, Andy Osterlund, to build a coworking space and business incubator in the building that served as Superior’s main library for 90 years. The building has been vacant since 1992 when the library opened in its current location at the corner of Tower Avenue and Belknap Street.

“I still don’t really believe that we don’t need one,” Paine said. “Saving the building is enough, and find a plan later, especially when it's at the level of danger it's in.”

The $164K grant will continue the long-standing relationship between the city and the veterans historical center if approved by the city council July 5.

However, the mayor said he hears the council’s concerns and is thinking about ways to assure them the city’s risk will be limited. Paine said he’s been hearing from members of the historic preservation commission about reasonable uses for the building, including returning it to the private sector.

“I could even get on board buying it today for $175,000 for a developer who needs it for $1,” Fennessey said. “That’s all they need; they just need it for $1. I think that’s success. That would be a good use for historic preservation funds.”

He said the idea is similar to the city’s Vacant to Value home restoration program where the city acquires a home and turns it over to a developer for nearly no cost if they agree to do the work necessary to restore the home.

Among the 10 councilors, Fennessey said, “I don’t think anyone is opposed to saving the Carnegie.”

After postponing a decision to the July 5 meeting, councilors briefly discussed the possibility of funding a temporary roof on the building to prevent additional damage, but took no action because that issue wasn’t on the agenda.

Fennessey, who proposed a temporary roof, said the council would need an agreement with the current owner before councilors could consider paying for a temporary roof.


In other business, the council:

  • Approved a $50,000 grant for the Encouragement Clinic to supplement funding for patient service fees to provide mental health services to students at Superior middle and high schools. The mayor said the grant application was vetted with the help of the Superior School District and Douglas County Health and Human Services. It’s the first and only grant application received for the $100,000 grant program for mental health services established by the city council with American Rescue Plan Act recovery dollars.
  • Authorized Linda Cadotte, parks, recreation and forestry director, to spend up to $250,000 for new playground equipment and surface improvements at Veterans Memorial Park in North End.
  • Appointed Steven Pool to replace Bruce Barron on the tourism development commission as the lodging representative.
  • Approved a 10-year loan agreement with Superior Business Center Inc., for concrete repairs at the business center at 1423 N. Eighth St. Under the agreement, the Superior Business Center won’t pay interest on the loaned amount, up to $50,000.
  • Approved a $28,000 grant to A World of Accordions for signage and building repairs at 1401 Belknap St.
  • Adopted an ordinance to ensure election inspectors are fully compensated for their time spent assisting voters and streamlining the process.
Shelley Nelson is a reporter with the Duluth Media Group since 1997, and has covered Superior and Douglas County communities and government for the Duluth News Tribune from 1999 to 2006, and the Superior Telegram since 2006. Contact her at 715-395-5022 or
What to read next
The vendor in charge of designing the citywide network said work is 50% complete. In other broadband news, Douglas County was among four northern Wisconsin counties that did not receive grants to expand broadband service.
The tools could be used on an individual basis at Northwestern middle and high schools, school officials said.
Reconstruction of the Garfield Avenue interchange and Highway 53 ramps will dovetail with ongoing reconstruction, ending years of potential delays.
Tommi Hintz described how she became increasingly suspicious of her two friends, eventually learning of the homicide but still assisting in the disposal of Ricky Balsimo's remains in Lake Superior.