Now that Essentia Heath has a new state-of-the-art medical facility in Duluth, the lingering question has been what the timeline would be for the next phase, including the demolition of the former medical center.

In January 2022, Essentia Health and the Benedictine Sisters of the St. Scholastica Monastery, who own the site, announced that the building would be demolished. On Tuesday, Essentia provided details on that process.

Work to prepare the former Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center for demolition is now underway. The current St. Mary’s Medical Center replaced the century-old building, which opened in July 2023.

What Will The Demolition Process Look Like?

According to Essential Health, while preparation has begun, the site prep will become more visible as the summer progresses, starting with removing skywalks connecting to the legacy hospital.

They have partnered with Minnesota-based Rachel Contracting for this project and skywalk removal will happen in early July. Much like the construction of the replacement St. Mary’s location, the demolition project provides another opportunity to support the building trades and union jobs.

Demolition will involve heavy equipment deconstructing the building and will take approximately one year to complete. Motorists should note that the project will require some lane closures.

“We are committed to minimizing the impact on our neighbors and the surrounding community,” said Tonya Loken, Essentia’s community relations director. “Their safety and security will be a key consideration of every decision made during this process.”

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What Will Happen To That Site After Demolition Is Complete?

Essentia says that upon completion of demolition, the site will become a temporary green space while the final use is determined.

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They believe the site would be the best location for the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Duluth campus. Placing the medical school on the St. Mary’s site could help revitalize the Fourth Street corridor. Furthermore, students would be connected to the region’s only Level I Trauma Center and a brand-new, state-of-the-art hospital.

Essentia adds that in Duluth, they already provide more than 70% of the total clinical rotations to the medical school.

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