FAIRFIELD INN AND SUITES PROPOSED FOR MAPLE GROVE ROAD

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A familiar hotel chain may be coming back to the Duluth Heights area.

A new Fairfield Inn and Suites has been proposed for a site on the corner of Maple Grove Road and Cottonwood Avenue. Located at 1506 Maple Grove Road the four story building would house 82 guest suites, an indoor pool, lounge areas, meeting space and more. 82 parking spaces would be provided on a surface lot surrounding the building.

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This would be the second Fairfield Inn and Suites location in Duluth with the other being located on Park Point. However, Fairfield Inn and Suites isn’t a stranger to the Duluth Heights area. They actually had a location behind Walgreen’s off of Joshua Avenue up until a few years ago when the hotel was sold and rebranded as an AmericInn.

Brutger Equity INC is the developer behind the newly proposed Fairfield Inn and Suites. The company also owns the adjacent Days Inn which they are plan to renovate and rebrand as a Days Inn and Suites this spring.

Plans for the project will go before the Duluth Planning Commission at their meeting this Tuesday.

Construction on Fairfield Inn and Suites could begin as soon as June with an anticipated opening in May 2020.

 

LUXURY APARTMENTS COMING TO DOWNTOWN DULUTH

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A new luxury apartment building is on the rise in Downtown Duluth.

CityView Flats is currently under construction at 333 N 1st Avenue W in the Central Hillside neighborhood. The site is located just a short walk from Canal Park and Downtown Duluth and offers picturesque views of Lake Superior and the Downtown Skyline.

The new $18 million, five-story residential building will be home to 105 luxury apartments that will range in size and include studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units. While most units within the building will rent at market-rate ten have been set aside as affordable housing units and will be rent restricted.

The new building will be filled with amenities including a state-of-the-art fitness center, a sauna, a rooftop party room and also a large outdoor terrace complete with fire pits, grilling stations and an outdoor hot tub. Indoor heated parking will be provided on one level of underground space within the building.

MBJ Development is the developer constructing the project. The company is based out of Minneapolis and has completed a number of development projects within the Twin Cities and Northland.

Leasing is already underway with construction expected to be complete this September.

 

RENDERINGS REVEALED FOR ESSENTIA HEALTH'S $800 MILLION "VISION NORTHLAND" PROJECT

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Feast your eyes on the renderings for Essentia Health’s “Vision Northland.” 

The massive $800 million, 930,000 square foot project will see the creation of state-of-the-art medical facilities that will allow Essentia Health to be able to provide the highest level of health care to the Northland.

Plans for the “Vision Northland” project include $675 million for the creation of a new hospital tower, clinic and outpatient surgery center along with the renovation of 115,000 square feet of existing space. An additional $125 million will be used for infrastructure upgrades and financing costs.

The decision to build up versus out was intentional. Essentia Health wants to reduce their overall footprint within the Central Hillside neighborhood in order to open space for other development to occur. This plan will will ultimately create a stronger neighborhood that not only serves Essentia Health and the surrounding medical district but the community of Duluth as well.

Construction on the project is expected to begin this year with a completion set for 2022.

LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD

Something that is unique in the planning process for this project is that you have a chance to voice your opinion. The means you also have the chance to affect the overall design for the massive project.

Public comments will be accepted by the City of Duluth through March 13 and you’ve got a number of ways to submit yours.

You can access an electronic copy of the environmental assessment worksheet prepared by Essentia Health by clicking here. There are also hard copies provided at the main branch of the Duluth Public Library downtown and also at the Mount Royal and West Duluth branches. Lastly, the Duluth Planning and Economic Development Office (411 W. First St., Room 110) also has hard copies available. 

On March 12th at 5pm, the Duluth Planning Commission will hold a public hearing within the Council Chambers at City Hall for comments on the environmental worksheet. If you can’t make it to that meeting you can also submit questions or share ideas on the project by visiting Essentia Health’s Vision Northland website here.

With all this being said we have one last thing to say. Don’t waste this chance to make sure your voice is heard on the city of Duluth’s largest development project ever.

VACANT YOUNKER'S SPACE HAS FOUND A BUYER

Younker’s during it’s closing sale in 2018 (MPR News)

Younker’s during it’s closing sale in 2018 (MPR News)

What once was retail is now becoming space for healthcare.

It was a tough year last year at the Miller Hill Mall when not only Younker’s closed but also Sears, both due to bankruptcies. Many malls across are losing one anchor tenant, but to lose two within months of each other is very uncommon. The two closures left almost 300,000 square feet of vacant retail space at the Miller Hill Mall resulting in a major leasing challenge.

But good news, the vacant Younker’s space at the Miller Hill Mall officially has a buyer. 

Essentia Health has purchased the vacant space for $3.2 million. The building covers 145,000 square feet of space on two levels and has two different access points to the interior of the mall along with two different access points on the exterior leading to a large parking lot.

A RETAIL EPIDEMIC

While many were hoping for more retail to take over the space (rumors of Dillard’s even surfaced earlier in the year) the purchase by Essentia Heath and the change in use of the space is actually very common in the mall world these days.

Vacant Younker’s space (TDTDULUTH)

Vacant Younker’s space (TDTDULUTH)

With large vacancies occurring at malls throughout the country property owners have needed to get creative in finding ways to fill them and trust us, they have. Spaces have become large fitness centers, universities, creative office space, housing and more. 

In the Twin Cities multiple malls are dealing with the closing of anchor tenants just like the Miller Hill Mall. Southdale Center in Edina lost anchor tenant JCPenney and in response sold the vacant space to LifeTime Fitness who has since then torn down the building and is now constructing a massive fitness center, co-working space and retail space. Just North of Minneapolis Rosedale Center is dealing with the same problem of losing an anchor tenant when Herberger’s closed last year. Sources have stated that the JLL, the company that owns Rosedale Center, has plans to tear down the Herberger’s space and in its place build a large mixed-use development with housing, a hotel, retail/restaurant space and more.

So, with all this being said Essentia Health moving into the former Younker’s space isn’t out of the norm, it actually IS the new norm.

WHAT’S INSTORE (LITERALLY)?

That’s a good question. Not many details on what Essentia Health plans to do with the space have been made public. 

Rumors are swirling that the Essentia Health Fitness and Therapy Center located at 402 E. Second St. will be relocating from Downtown Duluth to the Younker’s space. The reason for the move is due to Essentia Health’s $800+ million “Vision Northland” plan which will replace the center with a large new medical building/campus.  

The relocation makes sense overall but the question that we are pondering is whether or not Essentia Health will truly take up the entire space.

WHAT WE THINK THE FUTURE COULD HOLD

To begin with, it’s a lot of space. Because it’s a lot of space it would make sense for Essentia Health to take over the upper floor and a portion of the lower level while designating some of the space that is directly next to the mall corridors for retail use. Whether or not Essentia Health would own that space and lease it themselves or potentially even sell it to the mall’s owner, Simon Properties, is a question that still remains.

Here’s another thing that could happen. Essentia Health could demolish the existing building altogether. 

Sounds pretty crazy… but it’s actually not when you think about it. Essentia Health is currently investing millions in a new Health and Wellness Center just down the road in Hermantown. What that might mean is that not all of the services currently offered at the downtown fitness center would transfer (i.e. the swimming pools) to the Younker’s space as they may be offered at the Hermantown Wellness Center. And, if they do plan on offering the exact same services there is going to need to be some SIGNIFICANT construction occurring in the existing space in order transform it. There’s a potential chance that the overall cost for rehabbing the current space might actually be more than just building an entirely new building itself.

At the moment we don’t have many details to share on the exact plans that Essentia Health has instore but when we do we’ll be sure to post more information about them right here.

 

15 STORY BUILDING PLANNED FOR DOWNTOWN DULUTH

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Downtown Duluth's skyline may receive a new addition.

Plans have be revealed for a 15 story mixed-use tower that would be constructed at 331 E Superior Street. The site is currently home to the Voyager Lakewalk Inn and two historic structures. All three structures would be demolished to make way for the new project.

The new $75 million building would be home to a mixture of apartments and retail space. The ground floor would house 18,000 square feet of retail space that developers would like to see become home to a grocery store. Above that space there would be 204 apartments located on 14 floors of space with many of those units having unobstructed and pristine views of Lake Superior.

The developers behind the project are Duluth-based Titanium Partners, Madison-based Landmark and Chicago Developer Gerald Fogelson. The three groups see this new and exciting project as a landmark for Superior Street and the downtown area overall. It also is expected to help ease the demand for over 2,000 new residential units within the city.

The project will go before the Duluth Planning Commission at their December meeting. The developers hope to time the construction of the building with the Superior Street reconstruction project.

If approved construction could begin as soon as next year which would potentially have units ready for move in as soon as 2021.

 

CONFIRMED: JERSEY MIKE'S TO OPEN DULUTH LOCATION

Vacant storefront where Jersey Mike's will be located /// Google Earth

Vacant storefront where Jersey Mike's will be located /// Google Earth

A national sub chain is coming to Duluth. Cue the drooling. 

Jersey Mike's will open what will be their FIRST Northland shop at 905 W Central Entrance in the Stone Ridge Shopping Center the company's website recently confirmed. The new sub shop will be located in the former home of "The Smoke Shop" which moved to a new location.

Now you might be saying to yourself, "Oh great, another sub shop."  You also might be thinking, "What makes Jersey Mike's any different from let's say... Jimmy John's?" 

THE DIFFERENCES

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One: Jersey Mike's doesn't make "freaky fast" deliveries like Jimmy John's. They actually don't deliver at all. 

Two: They serve breakfast subs.

Three: They keep it simple and fresh.

The restaurant specializes in submarine sandwiches that are made to order and offer them both hot and cold (there are wraps too). Jersey Mike's various meats and cheeses are sliced when ordered instead of being pre-sliced like many of their competitors. You can also get the subs topped "Mike's Way" which includes sliced onions, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, oregano, salt (spices) and something called "The Juice" (red wine vinegar and olive oil). Last but not least, Jersey Mike's has become well known for their cherry pepper relish.

SOME HISTORY

Jersey Mike's began as a "Mike's Submarines" in 1956 in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey. In 1956 Peter Cancro got a job there and in 1975 he and a friend bought the company. In 1987 they began franchising the restaurant that was now named "Jersey Mike's". Today there are over 1,200 locations (21 of those being in Minnesota) and hundreds of new locations are also in development. Fun fact: In just the last five years the company has almost doubled their store count.

Jersey Mike's in Duluth will open this Fall. The company and local franchisee have yet to release a set date.

 

RETAIL AND RESTAURANTS PROPOSED FOR W CENTRAL ENTRANCE SITE

Duluth's retail core may become even more... retail... That is if one developer's plans are approved by the city.

Launch Properties is proposing a new commercial development at the corner of W Central Entrance and Anderson Road. The development company is currently building a commercial development across the street that will include an Aspen Dental, a new Starbucks location, and additional retail space ideally situated for a restaurant.

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Plans for their next commercial development include 17,200 square feet of commercial space. That space will be broken down into three different buildings that will in the end include both retail and restaurants depending on how leasing pans out.

Currently plans show a 6,800 square foot building that would house one retail space and two restaurant spaces. The next building include a freestanding 2,700 sqf restaurant building that would have a drive through (Raising Cane's, please). Lastly, there would be a 7,700 sqf building that would ideally be split between one retail space and two restaurant spaces.

Entry to the retail development would be provided by a one way access from W Central Entrance heading towards Downtown. Both entry and exit lanes would also be available off of Anderson Road. 128 surface parking spaces would be provided within the commercial project.

Launch Properties' proposed commercial development is heading through the City Planning Commission at their September 11th meeting. If you'd like to provide input on the project before then a meeting with the developers will occur today at 5:30pm at the Duluth Heights Community Recreation Center (33 West Mulberry Street).

No tenants or renderings for the project have been released yet. The expected timeline for construction is Spring 2019 through Summer 2020. As more information is provided we will be sure to post it here at The Development Tracker | Duluth. 

 

CARIBOU COFFEE PLANNED FOR CENTRAL ENTRANCE

Former BP station during partial demoliton ///  Mix108

Former BP station during partial demoliton /// Mix108

There has been a question circulating around town for the last few months. What is happening to the former BP gas station at 2 E Central Entrance? Two words. Caribou Coffee.

Local developer Kleiman Realty is currently renovating the building in preparation for Caribou Coffee to set up shop. This will be Caribou's seventh Duluth location and it will be just one mile from the Stone Ridge Shopping Center location and less than two miles from the Miller Hill Mall location. We've reached out to Caribou Coffee to see if this by chance might be a relocation but chances are that it is most likely not.

Why not? Competition is getting hot.

Recent additions to the area such as Dunkin' Donuts and the ever so present chance that Tim Horton's might enter the market are really changing the market.

To make things worse for Caribou Coffee, Starbuck's has recently been investing significantly in new locations within the area. Just a few years ago they opened a new location along Woodland Avenue, remodeled their Downtown location and later this year will open a new location along Central Entrance (no word either on if that will be a relocation of the current location along Central Entrance or not). Recent news we've heard is that three other locations might be introduced within the Twin Ports within the next two years.

Inspiration for new Caribou Coffee interior design /// PR Newsire

Inspiration for new Caribou Coffee interior design /// PR Newsire

Currently the details on the new Caribou Coffee location are scarce. Multiple permits have been pulled out for the renovation and work has been happening for the last few weeks. A Fall opening is expected.

Whether or not this location will be a dual branded store like ones that have previously opened in Duluth is unclear. Caribou Coffee recently made some revisions to their expansion of the Coffee & Bagels chain where they partner with other chains such as Bruegger's or Einstein Bagels (among others). The partnership is still happening but going forward there is much more of an emphasis on the Caribou Coffee part of the partnership.

We will keep you all updated with any additional details that we become aware of. Until then, dream of those Northern Lite Coolers that might just be a step closer to you depending on where you live.

 

TACO BELL PLANS GRAND AVENUE LOCATION... AGAIN.

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Once upon a time on December 21st, 2015 we reported that Taco Bell was coming to Grand Avenue in West Duluth. Then nothing happened. #wahwah

Sometimes plans fall through and we are truly sorry for that.

Good news though, plans have been revived for a Taco Bell on Grand Avenue but this time around it's planned for a new site at 4426 Grand Avenue. While the address states that it is on Grand Avenue the site is actually tucked behind a Subway location and will be accessible off of N 44th Avenue W. Currently the site is a gravel parking lot.

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The Grand Avenue location will be a 2,723 square foot building that will have a drive-thru and a parking lot with space for 23 vehicles. 

Believe it or not, it may actually be a good thing that the first location wasn't constructed when it was originally proposed in 2015. Why? Taco Bell has come out with a whole new design for their stores since then that has re-energized the brand and created a great space to dine and hangout in.

Taco Bell has a great article on their website about the four new store designs that they introduced for their restaurants. The designs are mean't to play off the neighborhood and vibe of the city. What this allows for is a unique experience for customers that will differ from each Taco Bell they visit.

Taco Bell currently has one Duluth location on Central Entrance while another location is also currently being constructed on London Road in Duluth at the corner of London Road and 21st Avenue E. A location also recently opened in Cloquet.

Both of the new Duluth locations are being developed by Marvin Development IV, LLC.

 

SEARS AND K-MART ARE CLOSING. IS THERE A SILVER LINING?

Sears at the Miller Mall Mall |  MPR News

Sears at the Miller Mall Mall | MPR News

A closing is never good news, let alone two announced in a single day.

That's what happened yesterday when Sears Holdings announced that not only would the Sears location at the Miller Hill Mall be closing, but also the K-Mart in West Duluth on Central Avenue.

The two closings will result in a loss of a number of jobs in the city and will also introduce nearly 200,000 square feet of available retail space into the Twin Ports market.

Sounds terrible, right? Here's why you might want to begin looking at these closings a little more lightly. There's a silver lining, even if it doesn't seem that way at the moment.

Sears

Sears originally opened their Miller Hill Mall location in 1986. The store is a single level space that covers around 110,000 square feet and has entrances from both the mall and parking lot. That's quite a bit of space when you consider the mall itself is only about 830,000 square feet in size.

An interesting fact about the Sears space is that Sears Holdings actually OWNS the store and the land underneath, meaning they control the exterior, interior, and the surrounding parking area. Today the site is estimated to be worth around $3.6 million. 

Now, let's talk about why Sears owning the land is a good thing. It means they have to sell. Selling could mean to another retailer, which is probably unlikely as most retailers these days are not tending to make investments in real estate, or it could mean selling the space to Simon Property Group, the owner of the Miller Hill Mall.

$3.6 million is a small investment for a company like Simon. In addition, buying the former Sears space would allow the mall to take over more retail space and expand the mall which is currently near full occupancy (minus a few small retail spaces).

So, what would Simon do with the space if they did happen to buy it?

The options are endless.

What would most likely happen is that Simon would redevelop the space into more retail space, similar to what they did about a decade ago when they redeveloped the former Walgreen's space at the front of the mall into a number of different retail spaces. This would result in an updated exterior, new parking lot, and a number of new retail spaces (H&M there'd be room for you too).

Another option is that the mall could try to reposition the space as something entertainment related, a huge trend with redeveloping malls lately. That could mean a entertainment center of some sort, like Dave and Busters, or a movie/dining experience such as Alamo Drafthouse.

Lastly, the mall could try to subdivide the space or lease the space out to another large retailer. Believe it or not there are still some big box retailers that are still expanding and waiting for space like this.

In addition, if the mall is touching the Sears end maybe this will be the time for a full mall renovation. Simon is known for completing full renovations of malls while repositioning vacant anchor spaces.

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What about Kmart?

The closing of Kmart is without a doubt a major hit to the West Duluth neighborhood. It introduces a major void to the surrounding community which will lack a general merchandise retailer (i.e. clothes, food, household products, in one place) that is easily accessible. Another problem is that it introduces around 80,000-90,000 sqf of new retail space to the area.

But wait, is that a problem?

It might not be as the space being introduced is perfect in size to house a single or multiple retailers and is in a great area.

Some retailers that could set up shop in the space that come to our mind are Aldi, which has been actively scouting for another location in Duluth, or something along the lines of a small format Target. Target has been opening a number of small format locations across the country recently with a number of them being in former Kmart locations that have recently been vacated. 

While the closure will certainly cause disruption to the neighborhood, a silver lining is surely in store (literally). Now we're just playing a waiting game. DTA, can we get some more transit options to over the hill for the time being?

TOPPER'S PIZZA PLANNING TWIN PORT'S LOCATIONS

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Topperstix. If you haven't had them, you've GOT to try them. And good news Duluthians, soon you'll have the chance to.

Topper's is a pizza chain known for their delicious ToppersStixs. They're basically breadsticks... but so much better. They come in SEVEN different types, including garlicstix, pepperonistix, tacostix, cinnamonstix, baconstix, chocolate baconstix... along with the regular Toppstix which is simply a cheese topping.

Hold up though, that isn't all that they have though.

The joint also serves bone-in and boneless chicken wings and of course, PIZZA. The pizza options are endless ranging from build-your-own all the way down to Mac N' Cheese pizza. What sets Topper's pizza apart from others are their wild choices, their fresh ingredients, their late hours, and the fact that they typically deliver within 25 minutes. Talk about fast.

Based out of Whitewater, WI, Topper's currently has 15 Minnesota locations making Duluth their 16th. The first Minnesota Topper's location opened in 2012 in Rochester, not far from the Mayo Clinic.

SO WHO'S BRINGING TOPPERS TO THE TWIN PORTS?

A local real estate developer, Jordan Decaro, along with John Matko, who previously was a chef at Essentia Health's Heartstone Cafe and the Northland Country Club, will be the ones behind the new Topper's locations.

The first of which will be in East Duluth.

Located at 1231. E 9th Street, the space previously was home to David Kortier Harpmaker, a business that had been located at the site for nearly 20 years. The harpmaker won't be going far, space at the back of the building currently is housing their business and will be for the foreseeable future.

Topper's will open in the front half of the ground floor of the building. The space will house the kitchen, ordering area, and a few seats areas for guests. In addition, there will be a bit of outdoor seating too that can be used during the early Spring and Summer months.

EXPANSION WITHIN THE TWIN PORTS

The East Duluth location won't be the only one for long as Jordan and John plan to open two additional locations within the Twin Ports later this year. The first of which, or second depending on how you look at it, will open in Superior later this Summer while a third will open in West Duluth or Lincoln Park later this fall.

The East Duluth location is expected to open later this Spring when they can gaurentee that most of the college students will be within the area. Topper's feeds off of college campus', especially during their openings. The first 50 individuals in line will receive free pizza for an ENTIRE year.

We'll be sure to keep you updated on when Topper's plans to exactly open because let's be honest, who doesn't want free pizza for a year?

 

106 ROOM TRU BY HILTON PLANNED FOR CENTRAL ENTRANCE

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Once upon a time there was a hotel planned for a baren site on Central Entrance. That hotel was soon cancelled. End of story.

Today, plans are now being revealed for another hotel at the exact same site. The site is located at 525 E Central Entrance and currently is home to nothing more than a digital billboard. A few years back a Midwest developer had proposed building a four story Staybridge Suites extended stay hotel. However, those plans soon fizzled.

This time around, plans are being proposed for a four story, 106 room, Tru by Hilton hotel. You may not yet be familiar with the hotel brand as it is one of Hilton's newest.

Right now there are just 30 Tru hotels in the world, all of which are in the United States. Furthermore, there are currently NO Tru by Hilton locations in Minnesota. Plans were floated last month for a dual branded Tru by Hilton and Home 2 Suites hotel in Downtown Minneapolis, the company is also planning an additional 20 hotel locations throughout the country. So Duluth, consider yourself special.

The Tru by Hilton brand is aimed at millennials. The hotels are vibrant, affordable, and young-at-heart. In addition, the hotels are billed as energetic, yet relaxing and comfortable. Sounds like a Tru millennial experience, right?

The standard design for a hotel features a 2,200 square foot lobby that has space for working, playing games, eating, or just simply lounging. There's a free breakfast that was ranked in the "Top 30 Breakfasts" for hotels within the United States. While the rooms maybe smaller, each room features a comfortable bed and 55" TV with premium channels. The rest of the building features a fitness center, lobby with 24/7 market, and some hotels feature a pool and hot tub.

 
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At the moment there really aren't a great amount of details available about the hotel planned for Duluth, however when those become available in early February we will be sure to let you know.

The Tru by Hilton planned for Central Entrance will go before the Duluth Planning Commission at their February 13th meeting.

 

New Year. New Name. New Mindset.

You've might of noticed, we've changed our name. 

It was a hard decision to make, however it is one that we think will really help the website and blog in the years to come. Here's why we did it.

Over the years there have been questions of what CDINDULUTH actually stands for. When originally created it was to stand for Commercial Development IN DULUTH, over time though as we began reporting on more and more projects that weren't necessarily commercial, the C seemed to change in meaning. For the past five years CDINDULUTH seemingly stood for Current Development IN DULUTH

Confusing right? That was just the start of it.

With the public not really knowing what our name stood for (and ourselves even questioning it), we often we received questions from people as to what our website was about. The name didn't really give any indication except for the fact that it was about something pertaining to Duluth.

Flash forward a few years to 2013 to when we introduced a sister website about development in Minneapolis. This time around when it came to the name we took a simple approach and just called it The Development Tracker | Minneapolis. With the new name, you couldn't miss the meaning of the website. That simple change made a world of a difference.

Now it's time for us to do the same for Duluth. We're proud to be introducing The Development Tracker | Duluth.

We're the same website as CDINDULUTH previously was, just better and easier to understand. There's no longer a question in regard to what our website is about as the name gives it away.

We track developments within the city of Duluth. Our goal is to report what is planned, under construction, or completed within the city. We're here to get a conversation going between developers, citizens, residents, business people, and the city itself. We're a website that is about all things development related, whether that be schools, housing, commercial spaces, etc. 

We truly hope this change helps make a difference and while we may have been silent for quite sometime, expect that no more. We hope you'll love The Development Tracker | Duluth.

You can now visit our website by visiting www.tdtduluth.com or www.cdinduluth.com

ASPEN DENTAL, STARBUCKS PLANNED FOR WEST CENTRAL ENTRANCE


Does coffee really stain your teeth? If it does, a planned retail development in Duluth will help you not only cause the stain, but also clean it.

Planned at the corner of West Central Entrance and Myrtle Avenue, a new retail building is planned that would include a new Aspen Dental office along with a Starbucks and an undisclosed retail/restaurant space.

Launch Properties is planning a the commercial building that would total 8,460 square feet and would include three different retail spaces. The site currently is home to a few residential properties which would be demolished to allow for the new construction.

The site is directly across from the new MedExpress clinic that opened last month on a site that had sat vacant for years since the Residence Inn opened their doors next door. 

 
 

Aspen Dental would fill 3,500 square feet of retail space within the corner at the new retail building, their space facing the intersection of West Central Entrance and Myrtle Avenue. Aspen Dental has over 500 locations spread across the United States in 36 different states.

Currently there are 8 Minnesota locations with almost all being within the Twin Cities area. This would be Aspen Dental's first northern Minnesota with the next closest being in Cambridge, MN.

Based out of Dewitt, New York, Aspen Dental provides dental services that include everything from your routine check up to your root canal. Their offices provide short term and long term dental care and prides them selves on no hidden fees or inflated pricing.

Aspen Dental technically is a "dental support organization." What that means is they offer their name, branding, and services to individual licensed dental practitioners who operate under their name.

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Aspen Dental might know exactly what their doing. They'll be setting up shop one retail space away from none other than Starbucks.

Starbucks is planning on occupying a 2,242 square foot space on the far right side of the building. The company would relocate their location that current sits across from the Miller Hill Mall at 1405 Miller Trunk Highway, something that the company had been hoping to do for many years now.

Duluthians can celebrate as this location with be complete with a drive thru. No more of your coffee getting cold in those 15 seconds of you walking from the store to your car.

Speaking of cars, there's one more reason to celebrate. There will be a FULL parking lot at this new Starbuck's location, 55 spaces to be exact. No more parking on the street due to the eight spots being filled at the current Starbuck's location. Whew.

Site Plan for planned commercial development  |  City of Duluth Planning Commission

Site Plan for planned commercial development | City of Duluth Planning Commission

REMAINING SPACE

The is one remaining space within the commercial building that encompasses 2,718 square feet and is pegged for a retailer or restaurant. This would be a perfect space for a fast casual restaurant for something along the lines of Qdoba or Panda Express. We'll send an email.

This project is set to go before the Duluth Planning Commission at the August 8th meeting. If approved, the project could begin construction this fall with an opening in early Summer 2018.


 

PIZZA HUT OPENING NEW CENTRAL ENTRANCE LOCATION

Construction is underway on a new Pizza Hut located in the Central Village retail center at 101 E Central Entrance. The space previously housed a Salon Centric location that recently closed; it was the company's only location in the Northland.

Pizza Hut's newest Duluth location will be similar to the one that opened a few years back in the Shops at BlueStone. It will feature a dine in area, bar with a complete list of beers and other alcoholic drinks, and of course there will be the option for take and delivery.

MUY! Pizza Minnesota LLC will operate the location, they also have two other locations within Duluth including the Shops at BlueStone location mentioned above and also one location on Grand Avenue in West Duluth.

With Pizza Hut vacating their current location on Central Entrance it will allow Kleiman Realty to move forward with their plans of redeveloping the former BP Station along with the Pizza Hut, UPS Store, and potentially the Laundromat into a new retail center. The exact plans for what that building could include or the size of the building have yet to be made public however at one point early estimates stated the development could include somewhere between 25,000-30,000 square feet of retail space.

Pizza Hut is expected to relocate from their location that currently sits a block away at 17 W Central Entrance to their new location sometime in late April or early May.

 

ONCE A UPON A CHILD PLANNED FOR NEW ARROWHEAD ROAD RETAIL BUILDING


UPDATE: Since this article has been posted this project unfortunately has been cancelled.


A new retail building may soon bring life to a long vacant site along Arrowhead Road while also bringing the first One Upon A Child location to the Twin Ports.

J&S Partnership LLC has filed plans with the City of Duluth's Planning Commission for a retail building that would be constructed in multiple phases with the first being an 8,400 square foot building.

Located directly next door to Nortrax Duluth near the intersection of Arrowhead Road and Arlington Avenue, the retail development would span 23,400 square feet once fully built. The initial 8,400 square foot building would include two 4,200 square foot commercial spaces that could be subdivided even further into two 2,100 square foot retail spaces.

The site plan showing the first phase of development  |  Planning Commission

The site plan showing the first phase of development | Planning Commission

THE FIRST TENANT

Renderings show One Upon A Child taking one of the retail spaces, marking the entry into the Twin Ports market for the company.

While you may not know their parent company Winmark Corporation, you probably know the franchises, three of which currently have Twin Port's locations. Plato's Closet, Play It Again Sports, and Music Go Round are all part of the Winmark family.

Think of Once Upon A Child as Plato's Closet's little sibling... literally. They operate on the same business model as Plato's Closet but with kids merchandise. Customers are able to bring their gently used children's clothing, footwear, toys, furniture, and baby gear in exchange for money. Then Once Upon A Child resells the items at prices nearly 70% off of retail value.

In the Twin Ports Plato's Closet currently has a single location at the Burning Tree Plaza while Play It Again Sports has a location in the Kenwood Plaza retail center in Duluth and one location in Superior's Belknap Plaza. Lastly, Music Go Round has one Duluth location in the Central Village retail development near the intersection of Central Entrance and Arlington Road.

If approved by the Planning Commission construction could begin as soon as this Spring on the retail development with Once Upon A Child opening in Spring 2018.

 

ZEN EYE CARE PLANS SPRING OPENING

Zeneyecare Cover.png

Come this Spring, a new eye care option will be available for Duluthians and the surrounding communities when Zen Eye Care opens in Duluth.

Located at 2106 London Road, Zen Eye Care will be the third tenant to open in Endi, a new mixed-use development that recently was completed on the corner of London Road and 21st Avenue E. Endi's developer, Harbor Bay Real Estate, had set out on a mission from the very conception of the project to attract businesses and services that would benefit not only its residents, but also the surrounding community.

Zen Eye Care will do just that. 

A DIFFERENT STYLE OF EYE CARE

The concept of "Enlightened Vision" is what will set Zen Eye Care apart from others. It is mean't to create a mindful experience in three main ways: by making the process more Efficient, more Personalized, and more Meaningful for their patients.

Efficient:  Zen Eye Care welcomes the digital age by using the smartest portable, integrated, and accurate hand held technologies to create a streamlined eye exam. The optical eyewear inventory consists of well-researched trending shapes for men and women with the idea that they carry more colors in the better shapes.  The optical will have an in-house lab to cut lenses on site.  Zen Eye Care’s location provides convenient access, parking, and store hours.

Personalized: The concept of mindfulness during each visit is meant to concentrate on each individual relationship.  This is an Eastern concept whereby visitors are served tea and meant to relax, have a conversation, and make a friend.  Every patient will get a take home summary of their exam and will also be able to access their records on a secure patient portal any time they need it. The patient portal will also allow patients to schedule future exams at their convenience.  

Meaningful: Zen Eye Care has established what they call the Zen Initiative.  With this initiative Zen Eye Care makes donations to local non-profit programs based on a percentage of the dollars each patient spends. The cool thing? The patient decides where it goes.  Products are sourced from independently owned companies and are chosen based on environmental impact and sustainability.  All of the eyewear comes with a story of how they make a global impact.  All visits are meaningful to Zen Eye Care and hopefully to each patient, because every dollar spent tells a story of how they are benefitting the local community.  Every frame purchased will tell a story of how Zen Eye Care will help make an impact in the world. 

Eric Bohjanen, Doctor of Optometry and Don Quada, Certified Optician are two guys from the Midwest who sat down after 16 years of experience in the eye care industry and combined their talents to create this entirely different model of eye care.  The idea was to create a model that could give a one-stop full service eye exam and optical experience while also benefitting the community.  More information will be available on their website at zeneyecare.com once the clinic opens this Spring.

Zen Eye Care is currently under construction and will be located just a few doors down from Caribou Coffee & Einstein Bagels at 2106 London Road.

 

HOUSING PLANNED FOR FORMER NETTLETON SCHOOL

The former Nettleton Elementary School |  WDIO

The former Nettleton Elementary School | WDIO

What once were classrooms could see new life as residential units if a developer's plans come to fruition.

United Properties is in the process of purchasing the former Nettleton Elementary School, located at 108 E Sixth Street, with the hopes of turning the building into 50-60 units of senior housing. The company would invest about $10 million into the building in order to update, reconfigure, and restore the building to make it suitable for senior housing.

Before that can happen though a feasibility study is being conducted to see if the building can even be renovated in the first place.

Nettleton lies within Duluth's Hillside neighborhood. The building has been vacant since it closed in 2013 when the Duluth School's "Red Plan" went into affect. Since then a few prospective buyers have looked at the property with the most serious being Sherman Associates and Many Rivers Montessori schools.

Both deals unfortunately fell through, Sherman's due to financing and Many Rivers due to a conflict of interest as the School District stated it would not sell the property to K-12 competition.

There's a demand for housing in Downtown Duluth, especially when it comes to Senior housing. Many people who live in the area and have for many years are looking for places to "age in" with the hopes of finding something within their current neighborhood. At the moment most options, and most new developments for senior housing, are located in Duluth Heights near the Miller Hill Mall.

This would be United Properties second project in Duluth. Kenwood Village, a four-story mixed use building with ground floor retail and 83 residential units, is currently under construction at the intersection of Arrowhead Road and Kenwood Avenue. That project will welcome it's first residents in early February.

If United Properties feasibility study comes back positive the developer could begin construction as soon as this fall with an anticipated completion in early 2019.

 

NEW HOUSING PLANNED FOR DULUTH

Duluth's Smithville neighborhood is about to get some new neighbors. 67 to be exact.

Construction has begun on Grand Avenue Estates, a new residential development located at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Zimmerly Avenue.

The housing development will consist of two three story, 29 unit apartment buildings that will feature 1, 2, and three bedroom units. The buildings will also feature a community room on the ground floor, a fitness center and sitting room on the second, and a library on the third. Space behind the building will house a children's playground along with an outdoor grilling area.

The development will also feature 9 townhomes, or "Patio Homes" as they are being called by the developer. The Patio homes will either include 2 bedrooms/2 bathrooms or 3 bedroom/ 2 bathrooms while each home will also have a two stall attached garage. There will be additional detached covered parking available for the apartment units within the development.

Rents for the units will begin at $975 for a one bedroom unit and go as high as $1,475 for a three bedroom unit. The townhomes will rent for $1,795 for the two bedroom units and $1,945 for the three bedroom units.

Developers will set away 11.6 acres of the 18 acre project that will remain as green space.

The $10 million development would have likely not been possible in it's current state if it had not been for the City, the Duluth Economic Development Authority, and the Department of Employment and Economic Development lending a helping hand. They contributed $654,000 for site preparations after unexpected contamination was found on site during the early phases of construction. 

Construction is expected to completed in November 2017.

 

THE DULUTH BALLOON COMPANY OPENS UP SHOP

Those looking for balloons in a city that is essentially balloon-less no longer have to worry as The Duluth Balloon Company is here.

If you're search for balloons of any occasion, whether that be a birthday, a wedding, or a surprise party for your friend's cat who's turning two, they've got a balloon that'll be a perfect fit. 

While The Duluth Balloon Company has officially opened up for business you won't find them located in a physical storefront like you'd expect, rather they've taken the 21st century approach to business by going online. 

THE BUSINESS

A division of Northland Special Events, The Duluth Balloon Company grew out of Mariah McKenchnie  and her family's love for special events and of course balloons!

While you can't visit a physical store, The Duluth Balloon Company provides all the balloons you could possible desire all online. Even better they deliver your order straight to your door. That means the hassle of fitting 24 balloons into your Smart car is no more. Those balloons that managed to get away and float into the atmosphere in the past? They're now just a distant nightmare.

Online in their store you'll find every balloon your heart could desire and all at competitive prices. It's an easy way for customers to shop online... while still shopping local. A.K.A. A Win Win.

IT'S A FAMILY LEGACY

Back in 1995 Mariah's parents opened Paper Warehouse, Duluth's go to party supply store.

Years later the store located at the Stone Ridge Shopping Center grew and became part of the Party America chain. Mariah joined the family business in 2009 and opened Northland Special Events in 2010, as a separate business focused exclusively on planning events. In 2015, Mariah moved the party store to 5009 Matterhorn Drive and changed it's name to; Northland Party.

Sadly due to fierce competition from local retailers such as Target and Walmart along with the ever changing and growing online marketplace Mariah was forced to shutter the business this past fall, ending the 21 year legacy of her family's business. With the closure Duluth was left without a party supply store, and more importantly, helium balloons.

Or so people thought.

Good things come in the most unexpected ways sometimes. In Mariah's case the closure of Northland Party allowed her to move away from a brick and mortar store and to focus on something new, Northland Special Events, with the expansion into balloons and e-commerce.

Northland Special Events provides event planning, design, decor and more to Duluth and the surrounding region. However even with the special events business Mariah knew that the everyday market was still being underserved and that's where The Duluth Balloon Company comes into play.

As a division of Northland Special Events, The Duluth Balloon Company will be able to ensure that there's a place for the everyday market that's looking for helium balloons of all types. It's safe to say that Mariah has you covered for every and any party you could possible imagine of hosting.

You can visit The Duluth Balloon Company's website here.