It just sort of happened.
Today, the building at
"It was not necessarily the intent," said
Once those businesses started moving in, they attracted like-minded businesses, even with Maki's law firm and an architectural company also in the building that sports an upbeat, genteel appearance.
"Many of the healing-type businesses are female-owned," Maki said. "Being on the skywalk is important for attracting customers, and it's convenient and safe for getting to your car and with winter problems."
To spread the word about what the building at
"We want to bring awareness to what's here," said
A self-described psychic and Wicca witch (a good witch, she insists), Couture offers psychic, tarot card, palm and past life readings. Her compact retail store is jam-packed with spiritual healing products including crystals, sage smudge wands for cleansing spaces and organic teas.
She calls the
"It's all positive energy," she said. "We're really proud to be part of the building."
Bachtell, who left the corporate world to become a Reiki practioner, was drawn to that vibe.
"I knew about the focus," she said. "I've always felt at peace in this building."
So when she was ready to move her small home-based business offering the Asian hands-on technique to improve the body's crucial energy flow, she chose the
"It was always going to be the
Former Orecks store
The building itself has quite a history. Built in the early 1870s with a Victorian motif, it is one of the oldest buildings in downtown Duluth. At three stories tall, the red sandstone structure was called Duluth's skyscraper when it was built because it was the first to rise that high.
Called the Hunter Block, the building housed the
In the 1900s, it became
Orecks closed in 1982. The building sat empty a couple of years before Maki, Oliver and Realtor
"When we got it, it was a 1950s-style redo, with big glass windows," he said.
Over the decades, Orecks had remodeled the ground floor exterior several times, covering the original sandstone and altering the windows.
The new owners removed the first floor's added faÇade, re-creating one closer to the original configuration. They replaced windows throughout the building, keeping the original openings. And they had the upper floor's still-exposed sandstone cleaned of more than 100 years of dirt and grime.
"It was plenty dirty," Maki recalled. "We spent a lot of time cleaning it back to its original status. It was caked with dirt so the dirt started assuming different colors."
Inside, all the floors were redone and painted light shades for a refined look. Interior walls were moved to create spaces for commercial tenants. But the tall tin ceilings were kept, and a retro ambience remains.
The remodel ended as the Duluth commercial real estate market started to turn, and finding tenants became difficult, Maki said.
Times are better today, with about a dozen tenants, most in the personal services and alternative health fields.
"They're very good tenants," Maki said. "I don't know how they gravitate here; it just happened. I just answer the phone, and if anyone wants to talk about space, I talk to them."
"It's worked out well," said Cantrell, a professional body piercer for 20 years. "My customers love how beautiful the building is. This is much more appropriate for what I do. The way the suite is laid out, it's perfect."
His studio is clean, neat and spacious, which especially suits his customers, who are mostly women.
He wasn't aware of the building's focus when he first responded to the "space available" sign he saw while driving by.
"I had no idea what was in there or that it was such a gem sitting here," he said.
Because body piercing and tattooing -- which Cantrell plans to add to his business -- have a gritty image, he got dressed up when he first went there to talk to the owner and see the space.
He realized the building's emphasis as soon as he walked in. And it won him over.
"That definitely helped in persuading me to be there," he said.
If you go
The Summer Solstice Open House will be from
Several businesses geared to health, wellness and body art will participate:
-- Lady Ocalat's Emporium will offer
-- Cold Fusion will offer free shake samples.
-- Reiki Moon will offer
-- Le Source Electrolysis will offer waxing specials.
Treats and beverages also will be served.
(c)2014 the Duluth News Tribune (Duluth, Minn.)
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