St. Louis County Depot to formalize tenant selection process with Request for Proposals

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 Administration • 100 North Fifth Avenue West, Room 202 • Duluth, MN 55802

Phone: (218) 726-2450 •

Kevin Z. Gray
County Administrator




March 28, 2022

MEDIA CONTACT: Mary Tennis, Director
St. Louis County Depot and Extension Services



St. Louis County Depot to formalize tenant selection process with Request for Proposals

The St. Louis County Depot is preparing to take the next step forward in standardizing and improving operations, and it will include issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) to potentially open up space for new tenants or change the space arrangements for existing tenants beginning in 2023.


The 130-year-old Depot is home to a variety of non-profit organizations with missions of promoting the arts, history and culture of this region. Existing tenants were notified in February of the coming RFP and were encourage to apply, as well as to provide Depot leadership input on any considerations they felt should be part of the application process.


The RFP process is the latest in a series of operational changes at the county-owned Depot aimed at improving the vibrancy and viability of the facility. In 2019, recognizing the need to better invest in the Depot and stabilize operations, the St. Louis County Board created a director position and hired Mary Tennis for the role.


Tennis has been working with tenant organizations, long-time partners and other stakeholders to create a vision narrative for the building. The condensed statement is, "To provide welcoming space and foster connections for distinctive educational and cultural activity." 


All applicants in the RFP process will be analyzed based on how they fit with this vision for the Depot.


When the RFP is released, non-profit arts and culture organizations are encouraged to apply for exhibit, performance, workshop, and administrative space inside the Depot. The historic building features stages, train tracks, original 1892 architecture, and rare chateauesque design. There is also opportunity for some commercial/retail organizations to submit proposals. Approximately 80,000 square feet of leased space will be available.


St. Louis County remains committed to a below market-rate rent and hopes the affordable cost and prime location will elevate and enable engaging organizations to flourish in our region.

It is in the spirit of transparency, accessibility, and sustainability that the arts and culture center will be offering organizations a chance to submit proposals for space beginning in 2023.


The RFP is expected to be released in late spring, followed by a four to eight week selection process leading to lease agreements. Organizations should expect short-term leases for 2023 and 2024, as the building is slated to undergo significant upgrades over the course of the next five years which could potentially affect space.


"We had planned to announce the opportunity in the next month or so, closer to the release of the RFP, said Tennis. "But in just the few days since the Duluth Playhouse announced it is vacating its space at the Depot to consolidate programming, we have received so many inquiries from others interested in renting all or part of the space, we felt it important to make clear the direction and process we are following."


The full vision narrative can be found online at or by request.  Organizations interested in learning more about the RFP or to be notified when it is available, should email



St. Louis County Depot Mission: The St. Louis County Depot is a landmark cornerstone of arts and cultural organizations that entertains, educates, inspires, and provides space for a diverse group of guests. The St. Louis County Depot provides new, engaging experiences; is a destination and a community center; and fosters community through education and entertainment that enhances the quality of life for visitors.