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

Screen Shot 2019-02-07 at 8.18.46 PM.png

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.

 

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.

 

MEDEXPRESS PLANS DULUTH LOCATION

A new MedExpress location in Arkansas | The Cabin

The number medical facilities in Duluth is about to grow. This time plans are for a new urgent care center to serve the Duluth Heights area.

MedExpress has filed plans for a new 4,713 square foot, 7 room medical facility at the corner of Myrtle Street and Central Entrance in Duluth. The new building would be constructed on what currently is an empty lot next to Residence Inn.

The 4 floor, 92 room Residence Inn extended stay hotel opened in Duluth about four years ago. The hotel was intentionally constructed at the back of the site so that the high profile corner could be put up for sale with hopes that a restaurant would later be constructed. Those plans never came to fruition and the site has remained vacant since the hotel's opening.

WHAT IS MEDEXPRESS?

MedExpress is a national leader in urgent care delivery that "provides high-quality, fast and affordable care to those seeking medical treatment for illness and injury" according to their website. Their urgent care centers are open 12 hours a day, 7 days per week and operate on a first come first served basis which means no appointments are offered.

MedExpress was founded in 2001 on the East Coast and today has over 150 locations in 15 different states. The company has aggressive expansion plans that will easily double their current number of locations within the next ten years with a large focus on the Midwest.

EXPANSION INTO MINNESOTA

While there currently are no MedExpress locations in Minnesota, the company does have big plans for the state and is currently planning 19 Minnesota locations in the following cities.

Andover, Arden Hills, Bemidji, Brooklyn Park, Burnsville, Cloquet, Duluth, Eden Prairie, Golden Valley, Hilltop, Lakeville, Mankato, Minneapolis, Plymouth, Rochester, Roseville, Saint Paul, and last but not least, St. Cloud.

The company currently has four job postings listed for the Duluth location on their website, this includes three postings for Physicians and one posting for a Nurse Practioner. The same four positions are available for the Cloquet location and in addition a Center Manager position is also a available for that location. Click here to see these job postings on their website.

 

St. Luke's plans new Miller Creek Medical Clinic

The corner of Mall Drive and Loberg Road is under quite the transformation and it's only about to become greater.

On one side Mills Fleet Farm is currently building a 200,000+ square foot retail store while near the opposite corner Holiday Inn Express and Suites is constructing a new 5 story hotel. The whole area has been pegged as "Hermantown Marketplace" by the city of Hermantown and in previous year saw the addition of HOM Furniture, DQ Grill and Chill, Subway and Volkswagon. It is expected to see the majority over Hermantown's commercial development over the next decade.

Site of the new Miller Creek Medical Clinic

St. Luke's also wants to become part of this growing area. Miller Creek Medical Clinic will move from their current location at 4884 Miller Trunk Highway near Lakes 10 theater in Hermantown to the corner of Loberg Road and Mall Drive. A new clinic will be constructed next to the Holiday Inn Express and Suites on what was the formerly the Eggebrecht Chevrolet car dealership.

We spoke with Sandy Barkley, St. Luke's Vice President of Clinic Operations, about the new Miller Creek Medical Clinic and what is in store for the project.

The new clinic is expected to open by year's end. While images are currently not available as it is still being designed by Duluth's DSGW Architects, the over all look and feel will be very similar to St. Luke's Lester River Medical Clinic. That clinic totals 9,700 square feet of space (less than half of what is planned for the new Hermantown Clinic) and was also designed by DSGW.

Lester Creek Medical Clinic  |  DSGW

Plans for the Hermantown clinic include a single story building that is about 20,000 square feet larger than the current Miller Creek Medical Clinic. The additional space will allow from the expansion of services currently present such as physical therapy and ophthalmology.

WHAT PROMPTED THE MOVE?

Ease of access was a large factor. The clinics current location requires patients to make a u-turn at the Stebner Road and Miller Trunk Highway intersection. While patients could easily see the clinic from the road the question often was how to get to it.

Another large factor prompting the move was simply space. As the Twin Ports has grown, especially Hermantown, the current clinic has too grown, or rather, outgrown their current space. It was the perfect time to move as the current lease of St. Luke's space is up in September 2016.

St. Luke's expects to present the project for building permits sometime in March or April with construction beginning soon after depending on the weather. The project is expected to be completed by early fall.

 

St. Scholastica shows off new building planned for BlueStone Commons

The new Health and Science Pavilion building planned for BlueStone Commons | College of St. Scholastica

St. Scholastica has officially unvieled their plans for a new building at the successful BlueStone Commons development off Woodland Avenue in Duluth.

The Duluth News Tribune shed light on the project that will be called the Health and Science Pavilion and will be constructed on the site that formerly was home to the Woodland Middle School. The college will hold an official ground breaking ceremony today for the new $17.1 million project which is expected to open by Summer 2016.

Standing three stories tall, the 45,000 square foot building will be home to the graduate occupational and physical therapy programs that the college currently houses on their main campus. There is hope that a new physician assitant program also will call the building home if accrediation is achieved by next summer. However, the building will be more than just a space for learning.

Located within the building will also be the Maurices Community Clinic, a free on-site clinic that was made possible by a generous donation from maurices corporation. The programs within the building will offer services through the clinic allowing the students to have real life experiences pertaining to the education just floors blow.

WHY BLUESTONE?

Now there have been a few questions regarding why The College of St. Scholastica would build a building closer to UMD than their own campus. Well, if you look at the BlueStone Commons development as a whole then you'll notice it clearly is a perfect fit.

With BlueStone Lofts finished and filled with residents, the new BlueStone Flats under construction, and the wildly successful retail component of the BlueStone Commons development, the Shops at BlueStone, completing it's third phase within the month, it's clear this is the place to be.

It also makes sense when you consider the fact that most of the residents within the residential buildings at BlueStone Commons are graduate students, the same people in which would enroll in the programs offered at the new Health and Science Pavilion.

MORE DETAILS

While the St. Scholastica's development will take up a large space of the remaining land available at BlueStone Commons, developer Mark Lambert is not done yet.

BlueStone Vue will be the next residential building to be constructed directly next door the St. Scholastica's new building. The will also be additional retail space added to the Shops at BlueStone (most likely within the BlueStone Vue project itself). BlueStone Vue is expected to begin construction in late 2016 with completion expected in Fall 2017.

 

 

Fond Du Lac plans new CAIR building

Header.jpg

West Fourth Street is about to get a brand new clinic building if all goes according to plan for Fond Du Lac Development. The project would be located right down the block from another new development, the recently completed Steve O'Neil Apartments, which wrapped up construction last month and has already shown a significant impact on the neighborhood.

The Fond Du Lac Tribe has submitted plans to the city of Duluth for a new clinic building to be constructed at 464 Mesaba Avenue next to their current CAIR (Center for American Indian Resources) clinic and on the same block as Scared Heart Music Center.

Designed by DSGW of Duluth the new 40,000 square foot clinic would stand three stories tall and feature indoor parking on the first level for 24 vehicles including two handicap spaces. The exterior of structure would feature a large amount of red brick along with metal accents and a large number of windows.

New CAIR Medical Building designed by DSGW | Duluth Planning Commission 

With increased demand in recent years for medical care a logical need for more space has also arisen. The creation of a new building will allow for the expansion of medical care, pharmacy, radiology, and lab space. The new structure will also allow new services to be introduced such as occupational and physical therapy, adult and adolescent chemical dependency treatment, and behavioral health counseling.

Fond Du Lac chose this specific site for this project due to fact that no other suitable sites were available in desired locations and areas. The proposed site was the most logical as the original CAIR clinic sits directly next door the new space and will therefore allow for a seamless transition for new patients and those who have been coming to the clinic for years. In addition it will also continue to bring new jobs and growth for the neighborhood.

There are a few challenges associated with the project that have required that multiple documents be submitted to the city planning commission. Due to the lack of adequate parking space on site along with the challenges of constructing new parking lots on a sloping grade and on a site of bedrock, the developers are looking to establish parking on two neighboring sites. One is located at the corner of West 4th Street and Third Avenue West and the second on the corner of West 4th Street and Third Avenue West.

These two lots would provide additional parking for the clinic as the spaces on the first floor of the being would be reserved for patients and emergency drop offs. Staff would also have the ability to park in the alleyway behind the new structure.

Results from last nights Planning Commission meeting will be available within the next few days. If all goes according to plan construction could begin as soon as this summer. 

Feel free to post any comments below regarding your thoughts on this project.