St. Louis County partners with Better Futures to deconstruct three tax forfeited structures

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Land & Minerals Department • 320 West Second Street, Suite 302 • Duluth, MN 55802
Phone: (218) 726-2606 •

Mark Weber




September 17, 2020

CONTACT: Dana Kazel, Communications Manager

218-725-5049 (office) • 218-591-2219 (cell)


St. Louis County partners with Better Futures Minnesota to deconstruct three tax forfeited structures

St. Louis County is collaborating with Better Futures Minnesota to deconstruct three blighted, tax-forfeited properties in the Duluth area through a state environmental trust fund grant. The deconstruction process will remove raw material from the structures, including dimensional lumber, wood doors and windows, porcelain sinks, cast iron tubs, and hardwood flooring. Better Futures offers this material for sale to the public, diverting usable construction resources from ending up in a landfill. When the process is complete, St. Louis County receives a clean site, with the potential to convey in the future, and return to the tax base.


One of the three properties currently in the deconstruction process is located at 215 South 62nd Avenue West in Duluth. Representatives from St. Louis County and Better Futures, along with the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), will be available to give media interviews at the property on Wednesday, September 23, from 10 a.m. to noon.


After sitting vacant for several years, this two-story house built in 1906 forfeited in November of 2019. Interior and exterior inspections determined the home had reached the end of its useful life, and was not a candidate for sale at tax forfeited properties auction. Despite its poor condition, this structure offers the opportunity to repurpose materials, and divert up to 85% of its weight from landfills.


Beyond their materials recovery efforts, the Better Futures Minnesota organization employs men who were previously incarcerated. The specialized training the men acquire provides job skills that can be applied in multiple contractor and laborer trades internal and external to the organization. At the same time, the organization helps the environment by finding reuse options for building materials within communities.


NRRI is helping with this deconstruction project by providing storage space for the recovered materials in preparation for resale. NRRI staff is also assisting Better Futures to get the most value from the resources they pull from the houses, by helping identify wood species and quality, along with other materials containing reuse value.


Anyone interested in viewing or purchasing reclaimed materials from these projects, should contact Better Futures Minnesota at or (612) 351-8657.


In addition to the homes themselves, St. Louis County provides the removal of abandoned personal property, as well as hazardous and asbestos containing material investigations and remediation for each property. To facilitate the project, St. Louis County hired a local demolition contractor to obtain the required permits, disconnect municipal utilities, and provide final grading and site stabilization.


This is the second time St. Louis County has collaborated with Better Futures to deconstruct improvements on tax forfeited properties. In 2018, St. Louis County teamed with Better Futures in their efforts to deconstruct four structures, including the full deconstruction of two homes, and the partial deconstruction of an apartment building and a church. At the conclusion of the 2018 projects, St. Louis County offered all lots for sale, providing the public with an opportunity to return them to private ownership.