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Duluth’s Wealthy ‘Climate Refugees’ Are Driving Up Real Estate Costs

Plus a $3 million fib, RIP Eat Street Social, and the two local angles to Mario's boots in today's Flyover.

Chrisographer via Wikipedia Commons|

“There’s housing gold in them thar hills.”

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily midday digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

The Ups and Downs of Being a Climate Oasis

In Friday's New York Times article headlined "Out-of-Towners Head to ‘Climate-Proof Duluth,’" readers get a slow trickle of clues about John Jenkins. There's the lead image of him smirking with a surf board. There's the reveal that the 38-year-old "child of Orange County" brought his extended family to Duluth a decade ago in pursuit of safety from climate change. (He's not alone: 2,494 out-of-state folks moved there in the past five years, many citing its "climate-proof" status.) There's the fact he drives a 1970 VW bus and that his family owns two restaurants selling $17 burgers and $13 vegan açaí bowls. But the biggest tell, and the most perilous downside of monied transplants flocking to Minnesota, comes when we discover what Jenkins did to his adoptive city's housing stock: "In addition to his four-bedroom, two-bath home, which he and [his wife Giselle] Hernandez bought in 2017 for $210,000, he also collects rent on eight rental properties, comprising 18 housing units. He asks between $900 and $1,400 for a two-bedroom apartment." Says Jenkins, with zero self-awareness: "We tried to bring California with us here." Tubular!

The article itself serves as nice a follow-up to this 2019 NYT story about Duluth's climate appeal. Today's story focuses on the pros and cons of climate-spurred migration, from the perspective of out-of-staters and locals. Plenty of attention is paid to Duluth's current housing affordability crisis, and how people like Jenkins have exacerbated it. “I’m glad that people find value in Duluth. It’s a beautiful place. But I still long for the days when housing prices were reasonable,” says Duluthian Lynne Maine, adding that she fears her children can't afford houses in their hometown—“It hurts my heart." Unlike city leaders in Buffalo, New York, Duluth mayor Emily Larson isn't running national campaigns to advertise her city of 87,000 as a climate escape,. “People need climate refuge, but there’s the potential of a seismic conflict," she tells the Times. "So far, we’re navigating it."

Still indignant over the NYT grape salad ordeal of '14? You'll love this tweet from Duluth News Tribune staffer Jimmy Lovrien:

Minneapolis Racial Equity Head Lied About $3M Donation

Minneapolis held its first Black Expo in February, with plans to make it an annual event. But turnout was disappointing for "I Am My Ancestors' Wildest Dream Expo"—organizer Tyeastia Green, head of the newly formed Department of Racial Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, had predicted 20,000 attendees, and she was apparently only off by 16,000 or so. For this reason, and because the event had not drawn the private funding expected, the city wound up kicking in an extra $145,000 (for a total of $500,000) a week before the event. What’s more, Dave Orrick reports in a wild story at the Strib today, it turns out that a $3 million pledge from the Bush Foundation that Green reported to the City Council was totally imaginary. Not only did the foundation never make that promise, but the city never even asked. If you're gonna make up numbers, you may as well go big, huh? "It's unclear what, if anything, will happen next," Orrick writes.

Farewell, Eat Street Social

When Joe Wagner and Sam Bonin opened Eat Street Social in 2012, the so-called mixology movement was still fresh in the Twin Cities. Their Minneapolis bar/restaurant at 18 W. 26th St. (which some technically correct cynics will tell you is not on Eat Street) quickly became a hotspot for artisanal bitters and twisty mustaches. But now, following months of rumors, we can confirm that Eat Street Social is headed for Restaurant Heaven. “Holy #$@% that was fun! Yes the rumors are true. March 18th will be our last service here at the Eat Street Social,” ownership wrote Thursday via Instagram. “I want to thank every single person that has contributed to creating the soul of this restaurant. It's our absolute honor to have been a part of all of your lives for the last 11 years. Come see us one more time to reminisce if you can. We're going to miss it all when it's gone.” RIP Eat Street Social. I, Jay, had some of my first old-fashioneds and my very first poutine there in ‘12, two years outta college. Now you, the reader, know that.  

Red Wing Makes a Shoe for Fictional Character's Foot

Have you ever looked at Mario’s feet while playing Super Mario Bros. and wondered what his shoes would look like if they were translated to our three-dimensional, corporeal world? Well, my curious foot kinkster, your dream has come true: Minnesota’s Red Wing Shoes has made a real version of Mario's practical plumber boots, and they're only mildly horrifying. The shoes, currently on display at NYC's Nintendo store in Rockefeller Center, were created in promotion for the upcoming Super Mario Bros. Movie starring Chris Pratt, one of Minnesota’s worst exports, as the voice of Mario. The Red Wings appear to be pretty huge; after watching this slick video we’d reckon that these boots are fitted for a Sasquatch-sized creature in need of a lumberjack-style clown shoe (so that’s the hidden market here!). But judging from pics of the new toy line, they're pretty true to Mario and Luigi’s current style of footwear.

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