Sherman Associates Presents NorShor Theatre to Duluth Playhouse

{DULUTH, MINN., September 19, 2023}—Sherman Associates, Duluth Playhouse, the City of Duluth, the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce, development partners, and the community celebrated the presentation of the historic NorShor Theatre to Duluth Playhouse from Sherman Associates, marking the transfer of ownership interest of the theatre.

NorShor Theatre is a nearly 60,000 SF, state-of-the-art, community-based contemporary regional arts center with full performing arts education and production facilities. It houses a 605-seat main stage theatre, wine bar, and music and theatre classrooms.

Sherman completed the $29.5 million adaptive reuse and historic rehabilitation of the theatre in 2017 as the result of a unique public, private, and nonprofit partnership between Sherman, Duluth Playhouse, and the City of Duluth. Duluth Playhouse has managed the theatre since 2010 and has succeeded in bringing culturally rich experiences and world-class events to Duluth.

“The NorShor Theatre project has spanned two City administrations AND two Duluth Playhouse executive directors, and the City of Duluth is so pleased to see this project move from its infancy to the fully realized vision of a HART District hub of downtown cultural and arts activity. It is incredibly rewarding to see the entirety of the arts and culture and business communities rally around this investment and see it through to the finish,” said Mayor Emily Larson. “Thank you to Sherman Associates, and to Duluth Playhouse, for helping this project become a driver of both economy and of culture in downtown Duluth. Downtown’s best days are ahead, in part because of visionary thinkers and partners like the ones involved in this project.”

After responding to an RFP in 2012, the Duluth Economic Development Authority awarded the project to Sherman, in partnership with Duluth Playhouse, to transform the theatre into a vibrant cultural center that serves the arts, dance, theatre, and musical needs from across the region.

"Last year, over 50,000 patrons visited the NorShor Theatre to see a show or take a class at the School of Performing Arts. Duluth Playhouse is honored to call this beautiful, historic building home and is happy to continue to be a beacon for arts and culture in downtown Duluth. The Playhouse’s partnership with Sherman Associates and the City of Duluth to restore the NorShor has solidified the HART District as a magnet for social gathering and tourism,” said Wes Drummond, Executive Director of Duluth Playhouse. “On any given night up to 600 people attend a production at the NorShor Theatre, while also shopping, drinking, and eating at all the wonderful local businesses surrounding the venue. Duluth Playhouse takes pride in our new home and will ensure that the NorShor Theatre continues to provide endless nights of entertainment to residents of the Twin Ports and beyond for many years to come."

NorShore Theatre

The project used over ten sources of financing including private and public debt, equity, tax credit allocations, tax increment financing, and grants, including contributions from Duluth Playhouse and the City of Duluth. Sherman routinely seeks projects that focus on community, environment, and historic preservation, speaking to its own contribution of $1.7 million to the project.

“We are proud of the perseverance of our team and our partners to restore the theatre while maintaining its historic integrity and assembling its complicated financing structure. It has transformed the Historic Arts and Theater District into the flourishing downtown we envisioned from the start,” said George Sherman, CEO of Sherman Associates. “We look forward to our next opportunity to give back to the Duluth community.”

Sherman developed the property and served as managing member and building owner during the seven-year New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) compliance period, with the goal of transitioning it to the ownership of Duluth Playhouse at the end of the compliance period. This goal, coupled with the NMTC structure and goal to minimize long-term debt resulted in a complicated financing structure. Earlier this year, ownership of the property was transferred to the Duluth Playhouse for the put price of $500.

NorShor Theatre has delivered revitalized use to this important part of the city, including new employment opportunities and visitors, filling vacant retail spaces, enhancing public safety, and catalyzing other community and economic development opportunities.

“You simply cannot overstate the significance of Sherman Associates’ vision and investment into the NorShor Theatre, our downtown Historic Arts and Theater (HART) District, and the Duluth region in general. From housing and hotels to the arts, Sherman has placed a winning bet on Duluth. By investing into the HART District, Sherman has recognized that the arts and entertainment industry plays a big role in the business community and the economy. A vibrant HART District benefits the Duluth region through economic development and impact, tourism, enhanced real estate values, community revitalization, inclusion, and tax generation. We, at the Chamber, look forward to seeing the next iteration of the Norshor Theatre now that it has been handed off to Duluth Playhouse,” said Matt Baumgartner, President of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce.

Sherman has played a significant role in the development of Duluth over the last 25 years, consisting of over 600 units of multifamily, over 160,000 SF of commercial space, over 30 units of condominiums, and the 147-key Sheraton Duluth Hotel.

Most recently, Sherman is the developer behind the historic rehabilitation of the Duluth Armory into an arts and music center with a food hall and commercial space in partnership with the non-profit, Armory Arts and Music Center.



Sherman Associates

Sherman Associates is a growing commercial real estate development and management firm based in Minneapolis with properties throughout the Midwest, Colorado, and Florida. Sherman develops, owns, and operates its assets with a long-term vision to build neighborhoods, enrich communities, and empower people.

Sherman Associates has developed over 12,000 multifamily units and currently owns and manages over 7,000 multifamily rental units (affordable and market-rate). Sherman also owns and manages over 725,000 square feet of commercial space, five hotels, four Starbucks, three restaurants, and two solar gardens. Stay connected with Sherman on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.