Park Point Duluth 11222

The Billionaire Buying Up Duluth’s Park Point: What’s Her Plan?

You’ve probably heard the rumors swirling around Duluth’s iconic Park Point neighborhood lately. A billionaire has been quietly buying up properties left and right – and demolishing homes in her wake.

Her name is Kathy Cargill, wife of James Cargill II who inherited a chunk of the massive Cargill agriculture empire. Through an LLC called North Shore LS, she has dropped $6.7 million to acquire over 20 parcels and 12 single-family homes on the scenic 7-mile Park Point sandbar in just the last 14 months.

Nine of those homes are already demolished, mere piles of rubble now. Demolition permits have been issued for the remaining three.

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A Sandbar Full of Questions

So what’s the plan here? Reinert and other city officials are trying to get answers from Cargill, but the company has not responded to multiple requests for comment.

In a letter last month, Mayor Reinert asked to meet with Cargill, writing: “Many in my community — more than just residents on Park Point — have questions about the purpose and intent of these purchases. Especially where property has been torn down and land left vacant, or where purchased homes are now empty.”

The mayor isn’t just being nosy. The Park Point community has valid concerns – potential impacts on property taxes, erosion risks, responsible development on the fragile sandbar, and maybe most alarmingly, the loss of badly needed housing in an area already facing a crunch.

“A lack of housing is limiting our ability to grow employment, grow businesses, and grow our tax base,” Reinert explained in his letter. “Any loss of residential housing is not helpful.”

Public Land Stays Public

In addressing the community, Reinert did try to calm some fears. He assured residents that the vast parklands, beaches, and public access points along Park Point will remain public property, no matter what Cargill’s plans entail.

And just to be clear, he noted that Cargill is operating well within her rights as a private citizen to purchase private property in the neighborhood. No laws are being broken here.

But c’mon Mrs. Cargill. The lack of transparency has neighbors antsy and local officials having to play a game of Billionaire Buyer’s Cluelessness.

More Questions Than Answers

On the city’s side, officials say they will have input on any rezoning or major redevelopment plans Cargill pursues through the proper channels. But until she shares those plans, it’s a sandbar full of questions.

“The lack of information is generating all sorts of stories and I don’t think that’s helpful to the neighborhood, to our community or frankly, to her and her interest,” Mayor Reinert told Northern News Now.

Residents are wondering if Cargill is just a retiring snowbird looking to build a seasonal personal estate. Or is she an environmental conservation buyer, resigned to return Park Point to its natural beach dune landscape?

Or does the billionaire have grander designs? Maybe a private resort village?

Your guesses are as good as ours at this point. Whatever Cargill’s intentions, the waiting game and demolition derby have locals anxious about preserving the character of this storied piece of Minnesota’s north coast.

Kathy, any chance you can loop us in? Parker Point is eager to know – what’s the plan?

Featured image: Park Point, Duluth 11/2/22 | Sharon Mollerus | Flickr CC BY 2.0 Deed | Attribution 2.0 Generic | Creative Commons

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