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Sister team to 'flip' Two Harbors building

(From left) The three Erickson sisters, Diane MacFarlane, Sharon Erickson Ropes and Linda Rampona,stand in front of the building on First Avenue they decided to renovate. (Photo courtesy of Sharon Erickson Ropes) 1 / 2
Three sisters have taken it upon themselves to help the Two Harbors downtown come back to life by renovating a building and making it ready for a business to move in. (News-Chronicle photo by Adelle Whitefoot)2 / 2

Over the past couple of years, downtown Two Harbors has seen more businesses move into empty buildings. Three sisters have decided to do their part to give downtown a little facelift.

The Erickson sisters — Sharon Erickson Ropes, Linda Rampona and Diane MacFarlane — were born and raised in Two Harbors. They've teamed up to renovate and flip a small building.

Erickson Ropes and Rampona have experience in their own respective real estate projects, from flipping homes for resale to historic restorations on homes and rental upgrades. They recently decided to work together on hometown projects under their joint business, New Nest.

"We were looking at residential places and we couldn't find one that we were just ready to grab up right away," Erickson Ropes said. "But as we were walking downtown, we decided to start right there."

The sisters decided to take on the building sandwiched between The Lake Bank and the old Portside Pizza. The renovation plans include a new roof, windows, doors, wiring, plumbing, heating, insulation, drywall and flooring, as well as exterior painting and landscaping. The sisters hired local contractors, Scenic Construction and Erick and Ryan Bergerson, for the project.

"We hadn't been thinking about commercial — we were just going to concentrate on residential — but it seems like a crazy opportunity for another business," Erickson Ropes said. "I believe that First Avenue is going to flip in a big way over the next number of years because of Castle Danger Brewery being right there. That is a huge anchor."

Erickson Ropes may be a little biased when it comes to Castle Danger because her nephew, Clint MacFarlane, and his wife, Jamie, own the brewery, but the sisters agree it's a great thing for the food businesses in downtown.

"They bring a half-million people to First Avenue every year," Rampona said. "That is a remarkable target that already exists here. The craft beer crowd needs food and our building is the perfect location, just doors away."

Once the building renovation is completed, the sisters said they plan on putting it up for sale and would love to see a small business that can take advantage of the brewery customers.

"I will say at the same time that the building would be great for any small business that wants to move in that is not a food related industry, but to me the great opportunity seems to be for somebody that is willing to serve the craft brew crowd," Erickson Ropes said. "Those people go there to drink beer and they need something to eat with that. Any kind of food supplemental business, I think, is going to be killer in that location."

Since Erickson Ropes lives in Twig, Minn., and Rampona lives in Virginia Beach, Va., they've brought in MacFarlane to help out on-site in Two Harbors. MacFarlane has been assisting with contracted painting, building maintenance and site management.

"Our parents and extended families are still in Two Harbors, so we come home often," Erickson Ropes said. "We love Two Harbors, love the North Shore and want to invest in our hometown."

The three sisters see a lot of potential in downtown Two Harbors and believe it's beginning to turn around.

"I think that whole downtown block is going to flip over the next few years. It's going to get super busy, it's going to be trendy and it's going to be fun," Erickson Ropes said. "Grand Marais did this; Ely did this; and Two Harbors can do this, too. I believe that Two Harbors just has great potential to just really reinvent itself as another destination spot instead of just a pass-through on the way up the shore."

Adelle Whitefoot

Adelle Whitefoot is a Michigan native who moved to Minnesota in Sept. 2014 when she started as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle. She graduated from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich., in 2012 with a bachelor's in English writing and has been a professional photographer since 2011. Whitefoot is the night general assignments reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. 

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