The most exciting development near the waterfront lately has been the LaFarge/Pier B development. We haven't heard much about it for a few months, but today a big step was taken. The developers started accepting construction bids. The cement tower officially will become home to a 116 room hotel and 24 condos. The rest of the development that is set to include retail, recreational, and restaurant space will cover over 116,000 square feet. The best part about this whole bid is that it finally gives a date of when construction is set to start. Officials are hoping to start no later than October 2013 with a projected opening of late 2014 or the Summer of 2015. The releasing for construction bids was made possible by a nearly $1 million dollar clean up grant that was given to the developers a few months ago. That's good news for everyone in Duluth! Finally one of the most viewable sites in Duluth actually will get the treatment is has long deserved.
And no, Ikea is not opening on the site.
Being in close proximity to the Pier B project, I thought I'd bring up the Georgia Pacific plant closing. This clearly was big news yesterday as they announced that they would close their Duluth plant by August 31st, causing over 100 people to lose their jobs. Of course with my mind, I instantly start thinking about redevelopment of the site and what will become of the building (that truthfully is quite an eyesore) when it's current occupants have packed up and left. It obviously is zoned industrial and is 100% surrounded by industrial area. That at first had me thinking that it never could be redeveloped into something along the retail and hospitality side of things, but then of course my mind began to wonder and my fingers began typing countless things into Google. What I found is quite interesting.
Apparently the site already has multiple developers looking at it, and they are NOT all industrial developers. The current occupants feel as if the area should stay industrial because of its easy access to the waterfront and after all, Duluth is famous for it's ease and location of waterfront industrial zoned land. The interesting thing though is if you were to think about it as an commercially zoned site, it could be quite the site. Not only is it an extremely large and perfectly shaped site, but it also has some of the best frontage and visibility of any site in Duluth. It directly abuts 35 and would provide excellent visibility, while it also directly abuts the waterfront on the other side. Imagine the possibilities if a hotel were to be constructed on that part of the site. You'd be able to look out your window and see the huge grain towers next door (which I think would actually be a very attractive industrial view), while seeing huge boats slip in and out of the water slip, while also having a wonderful view of the Ariel Lift Bridge. It's a win win. So with that being said, and with commercial developers already eyeing this site (cough, a Bass Pro Shop would fit wonderfully, cough), let's keep our fingers crossed and our eyes open to see what unfolds in the next couple of months!
That's all for now! Sorry for the delay in posts lately.