BLUESTONE COMMONS PLANNING BIGGEST PHASE YET

An aerial showing a mass diagram of the final phase of BlueStone Commons | Duluth Planning Commission

BlueStone Commons final phase of development will be its largest phase yet.

The final phase, tentatively called BlueStone Vue, might actually give a little more meaning to the word “view”. Developers last year stated that they were working on plans for a mixed-use building that would include at least 100 residential units along with an undisclosed amount of retail.

While it seemed at that time that developers were proposing a building that would be comparable in size to BlueStone Lofts and BlueStone Flats, the other two residential buildings within BlueStone Commons, we see now that plans have grown significantly.

Plans have been submitted by the developers to the City of Duluth’s planning commission requesting a height variance for the site. Plans show an 11 story residential building standing 123’ feet in height along with a larger retail building sitting adjacent to the residential tower.

Now before you think that might be out of a scale for the area, take a look at the site section diagram below. There you will be able to see that the building would actually be no higher than the tallest adjacent buildings such as the Mount Royal apartments and the Grigg's residential hall at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

A section diagram showing the height of the new building with the surrounding buildings in the area | Duluth Planning Commission

Doran has constructed a similar residential building in both size and function within Minneapolis’ Dinkytown neighborhood called “The Bridges.” It too stands 11 stories tall and features 211 residential units aimed at students enrolled in the University of Minnesota. It seems that Doran might be looking to take a similar route with a building of the same scale here at BlueStone Commons.

MORE RETAIL

As mentioned above, there will also be retail space within the final phase. It appears that there will be a larger amount of retail than originally expected as mass studies show a big box anchor retail space that would be constructed in front of the new residential tower. While no specific details have been made available regarding the size of the retail space it looks to be around 25,000 square foot (think about the size of a Michael's store) and also seems to be designed for one large retailer.

Now what could that tenant be? It seems logical that BlueStone Commons could see the addition of a grocery store of some type within the development. Developers had stated years back that they would like to lure something along the line of a Trader Joe’s or Aldi to the site, something that would benefit not only the residents within the project but also the surrounding area. 

Requests for more information have been sent to Doran regarding this new exciting project. The project will officially go before the Duluth Planning Commission at their November 15th meeting.

 

2100 London Road has a name... and retailers.

Duluth, meet Endi. It's the name for Harbor Bay's 2100 London Road (now 2120 London Road officially) project being developed at the intersection of London Road and 21st Avenue East.

It's a unique name... so how did the project get it? Well, it's quite simple actually. The project is named after East Duluth. A long time ago when Duluth was growing, East Duluth was actually a number of communities including Endion (coming from the Chippewa Indian language meaning "my", "yours" or "his home"). The neighborhood was also home to the Endion Passenger Depot. So, chop of the last two letters and you arrive at modern version of the name, Endi. The logo itself features a faded image of Lake Superior along with the coordinates where Endi is located.

The project, which has been under construction for about 8 months, is the first of it's kind luxury apartment project to be constructed in Duluth. The 6 story building will include 148 market rate apartments ranging from studios to two bedroom units along with a number of amenities including an amazing outdoor area. The building will also include 12,900 square feet of retail space... with some the tenants being... drum roll please...


THE FIRST RETAILERS

Caribou Coffee and Papa Murphy's.

Caribou Coffee will open a location on the ground floor of the project at the intersection of 21st Avenue East and London Road. This new retail location will be Duluth's fourth Caribou Coffee and will be the first to feature a drive through. It's been clear for almost two years now that Caribou was interested in locating at the site.

When plans emerged that a new development was to occur on the former Burger King site Caribou Coffee's name came up pretty quickly. At one point in time plans were submitted to the city of Duluth showing a new freestanding Burger King to developed on the property along with a freestanding Caribou Coffee. Not long after those plans emerged a new set of plans took the spotlight showcasing a mixed-use development by Harbor Bay Real Estate Advisors. We always had our speculations that Caribou Coffee would continue to be part of the retail mix on site no matter what form the project took.

Construction work progessES at Endi | CDINDULUTH

The second retailer to locate in the project will be Papa Murphy's. The fact that Papa Murphy's will open another Duluth location shows their belief in the market. For years the company had a single location in West Duluth which was then followed by a location at the Kenwood Shopping Center near Super One. Both are still open today and this past fall a third, and much needed, location opened in the Stone Ridge Shopping Center next to... Caribou Coffee. 

While the exact locations where these retailers will be located within Endi has yet to be announced (Caribou is a given as there is only one retail space with a drive thru) we can begin to guess on how much space they will take up. 1,625 square feet is the size of a standard Caribou Coffee however the location proposed on this site previously was set to be 2,558 square feet. Papa Murphy's locations average between 1,200 and 1,400 square feet.

Add the extremes of those two numbers together and you arrive at 3,958 square feet of the original 12,900 square feet of retail space being filled. That leaves about 8,942 square feet (not be exact or anything) of space remaining. That's actually a good amount of space that could house a few other retailers or another retailer and a sit down restaurant.

It's known that Panera Bread, Chipotle, and Noodles & Company are actively scouting for new sites in Duluth for additional locations and all would be a perfect fit for Endi (all three could realistically fit). We're not placing any bets... but we're placing a bet... that there is a good chance that one of these restaurants might call Endi home in the future.


GREAT, NOW HOW DO I LEASE A UNIT?

We wish we had more details for you... and trust us, we're working on it. At the moment we have yet to hear how much exact units will be renting for within the building but what we can say is that is that the studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom units will be priced between $1,000 and $3,000 per month. 

Construction as of January 29th | CDINDULUTH

Leasing has yet to officially begin for the project but will in a few months. Move-in will occur in late fall 2016 allowing residents to settle in before Christmas. Those lucky residents will be able to enjoy "extraordinary finishes, fabulous amentities, and breathtaking surises over the lake" according to the Endi's website. Some of those amenities include a private outdoor deck with seating, fire pits, grilling stations, and yoga platform. You can visit Endi's website here and sign up to be notified when leasing begins.

Leasing for the project will be handled by Pinnacle Living who will also manage the property. Pinnacle began in 1980 and to date is the largest operator of multifamily housing in the United States with 135,000 units and over 3,000 employees spread across the country. 

As always, check back to CDINDULUTH for more exciting details about this project and others within the Twin Ports!

 



Shops at BlueStone secures new tenants, plans for the future

The Duluth News Tribune recently reported on the continued development of Mark Lambert's BlueStone Commons off Woodland Avenue and Clover Street. New details also emerged regarding the Shops at BlueStone.

Pizza Hut | Wing Street will open their doors September 15th (for more openings check our calendar here) in what will be the third phase of the Shops at BlueStone project. The building also will be home to two more retail tenants.

An unnamed dentist will open an office next to Pizza Hut while AT&T Wireless will open their fifth (third in Duluth) Twin Ports location. Both are scheduled to open this fall. With these two additional tenants the building will be 100% leased along with the rest of the Shops at BlueStone buildings. So, on to the next phase we go!

WISHLIST: GROCERY STORE

Developer Mark Lambert told the Duluth News Tribune that he hopes to attract an organic grocery store of some type to the final phase of the BlueStone Commons development called BlueStone Vue. This is where things get interesting.

Originally BlueStone Vue was to become the third and final housing phase of the BlueStone development. It was to include about 14,500 square feet of retail space on the first floor along with residential units on the upper floors. Now plans seem to have shifted to making retail the priority within the building. Lambert mentions that he is looking to attract a "popular upscale market chain not currently in the Northland." He also notes that he is looking for this marketplace to fill 20,000 to 30,000 square feet of space.

WE'VE BEEN THINKING

So, naturally we here at CDINDULUTH have been thinking. What could possibly be a potential candidate for this space? There's two companies that come to our mind right away. The first would most likely be a prayer come true for many Duluthians and that is Trader Joe's.

With Aldi entering the Twin Ports market in November with the opening of their Superior location it marks a milestone for their parent company. As we've mentioned before, Aldi and Trader Joe's are actually part of the same company. Aldi has plans to continue expanding in the Northland and is currently scouting for a location within Duluth.

Now, Aldi could be a fit for the Shops at BlueStone however it doesn't fit the category of being an upscale organic marketplace, plus it wouldn't be new to the Northland. Trader Joe's however fits the description perfectly with one exception.

Interior of a typical Trader Joe's store (Leopardo Construction)

Trader Joe's locations tend to rarely be over 12,000 square feet in size. However this could match up perfectly with Lambert's comments regarding the size of the marketplace and how it could ultimately determine if other retailers could also located within Vue and how much housing could be included within the development.

There's one more player that comes to mind and that particular grocer could be an even more perfect fit for the development.

LET'S THINK BIGGER. LET'S THINK MORE SPECIALIZED. 

There's another organic marketplace that is sweeping the country by storm and that is Whole Foods Market. Don't confuse it with the local organic grocer Whole Foods CO-OP as this is completely different company.

Whole Foods Market currently has five Minnesota locations all of which are in the Twin Cities. They're currently constructing a new replacement for their St. Paul store that will make it the second largest in the state after the Downtown Minneapolis location on Hennepin Avenue.

If you haven't heard of Whole Foods Market we can almost guarantee you that you have seen a chef shopping at one on the Food Network. They're huge in presence on the West and East Coasts and up until about three years ago they had a relatively small presence within Minnesota.

Interior of a Whole Foods Market in Del Mar, California. (DLE Design)

The reason that we are bringing up Whole Foods Market as a potential player for the final phase of the Shops at Bluestone and the BlueStone development all together is that they are basically the perfect contender.

Whole Foods Market is an upscale organic marketplace. Their older stores tend to range as small as the 17,000 square feet mark but more recently are averaging between 35,000 and 45,000 square feet. This would match up more so with the developer Mark Lambert's wishes for a marketplace between 20,000 and 30,000 square feet. Also, we should mention that East Duluth's demographics are essentially a perfect fit and dream come true for Whole Foods Market.

IT'S ALL SPECULATION AT THIS POINT.

Let's just make it clear, we're not here to start rumors but rather we are here to lay the facts on the table. It is all speculation at this point, got it? Has Trader Joe's been looking to expand their Minnesota presence including within Duluth? Yes.

Has Whole Foods Market also been looking to expand their Minnesota presence, even venturing North? Yes. In fact last year they opened their most northern location in Minnesota in Maple Grove's Shoppes at Arbor Lakes (about 35 minutes from Downtown Minneapolis).

At the moment is clear that both retailers could be perfect contenders for the final phase of BlueStone Commons. But, we're also thinking that if Lambert's dreams come true Whole Foods Market might be the forerunner in the race. 

As always, we will keep you up to date right here at CDINDULUTH with all the latest in news regarding this exciting project and the countless others within the Twin Ports!