More shops coming to the Shops at Bluestone


With all retail spaces filled... it makes sense to start planning the next phase! Well, that's just what's happening at the Shops at Bluestone, Duluth's newest (and arguably the most talked about) retail development in quite some time. This is the new retail center near the University of Minnesota Duluth. The Shops at Bluestone has six tenants (seven with the Tavern on the Hill) including Starbucks, Chilly Billy's, Northern Communities Credit Union / Kat's Eyes Optical, Waxing the City and the soon to be first Qdoba location in Northern Minnesota. The roughly 10,000 square foot retail center was completely leased before construction had even finished. Now developer Mark Lambert, the man responsible for the entire Bluestone Commons development, is on to planning Phase II of the successful retail center.

The second phase of the Shops at Bluestone will include two retail buildings, one that is 5,100 square feet and the other will be 5,400 square feet. To give you a size estimate, it's a little larger than Phase I if you don't include the Tavern on the Hill space. Phase II will be built south of Phase I on land that is currently home to about six homes. All homes will be razed in order to make room for the new retail buildings.

Now, if you're thinking what in the world could call this space home... we will hold off from pulling out the "2014 Retailer Almanac (Deluxe Edition)" of restaurants and stores that have yet to call Duluth home.... because to be honest, there is quite a list. What we will probably end up seeing with Phase II is not the idea of "if " they can fill the space, but rather the idea of what retailers end up getting the CHANCE to call the Shops at Bluestone home. We're quite certain there will be no issue in attracting new retailers to the space based on the success of the current businesses in place.

One thing that we can assure you is that we can kill two rumors right away for the site. The first is that a Walgreen's was slated for the site that Phase II is to be built on. There is simply not enough room for that one to be true. Unless some significant alterations happen to the site plan before construction starts, it's not possible. It's not to say that Walgreen's couldn't still be a part of a later phase? We'll stay on the lookout.

The other rumor that was floating around was that this next retail component of the Shops at Bluestone could be home to the first Trader Joe's location in Duluth. Not true. We'll squash that one without hesitation... with a somber heart we might add. We are NOT saying that Trader Joe's is not coming to Duluth (we actually just spoke with a few sales associates at a couple of locations who say that company is actively looking at the north (hint, hint) for expansion), but once again, there simply isn't enough room for a Trader Joe's in Phase II.

So long story short... what retailers may we see calling this place home? It wouldn't surprise us to see another fast casual restaurant (Panera Bread anyone?) along with another financial institution of some sort. Also, some type of smaller clothing retailer aimed towards college students would be a logical choice. That's a trend that has been starting to pop up in retail centers near universities across the country within the past year.

With those two rumors being addressed, the second component of retail for the Shops at Bluestone will begin construction in this summer with an expected completion in Spring 2015. Future phases for the Bluestone Commons development will most likely include more retail on the former Woodland Middle School site (Walgreen's or Trader Joe's maybe?) along with the potential for additional housing units. 

New retail center planned across from Miller Hill Mall

"Platinum Plaza" located at 1661 Miller Trunk Highway in Duluth, MN. Image provided by Platinum Properties

"Platinum Plaza" located at 1661 Miller Trunk Highway in Duluth, MN. Image provided by Platinum Properties

Just when work begins to wrap up on the Hansen Center being developed a few blocks away, work is tentatively set to begin this spring on another retail center in the Miller Hill Mall area.

Platinum Plaza will be located directly across the street from the Miller Hill Mall on a three acre site at 1661 Miller Trunk Highway. Area developer Platinum Properties are the developers behind the 24,000+ square foot retail center; the fifth of it's type they've developed in the area.  If you're trying exactly pin point where we're talking about this development actually being built, you're probably right in what you're thinking. It's the in the heart of the Miller Hill retail area that seems to be somewhat surreal in the fact that it has yet to be developed.Three partners comprise Platinum Properties; one of which has owned the site for many years now. Parter Stevie Paulson says that the driving force for the project is due to the retail "market is in an up-draw" right now. They're hoping to tap into the recent surge of retailers and restaurants looking to find space in Duluth to call home.

If you're not familiar with the developers themselves, we can guarantee you that you probably seen or visited a few of their developments in the area. Look below and you'll just exactly what developments we're talking about.

-Maple Square (Maple Grove Road in Duluth) Tenants include Nevada Bob's Golf, Eyemart, Country Financial, and a catholic book store.

-Hermantown Square (Highway 53 and Lavaque in Hermantown) Tenants include Do North Pizza, Pottery Burn, Country Financial, Reliable Insurance, Hermantown Chamber of Commerce, McKenzie's Bar and Girl, A Le Salon, Total Tan, and Pacor Mortgage.

-Sugar Maple Crossings (Miller Trunk Highway in Hermantown) Tenants include Crossfit Duluth, Fastenal and a Dickey's BBQ location that will open this coming spring.

-Anytime Fitness Building (Miller Trunk Highway in Hermantown) This building solely houses Anytime Fitness now after their expansion a few years ago. Before Platinum Properties owned the structure it also housed a Quizno's Subs location



Location of the new Platinum Plaza development in the Miller Hill Mall area. Image provided by Platinum Properties.   

Location of the new Platinum Plaza development in the Miller Hill Mall area. Image provided by Platinum Properties.


o what exactly is planned for the Platinum Project development?

Well, two retail buildings will be constructed on site with space for up to ten different tenants; that's depending on who exactly signs a lease for the space. Paulson says that Platinum Plaza currently is at the "entrance stage of the project." He says that's a good thing as "there will be an opportunity to specifically design for tenants needs." What this ultimately means is that the overall appearance of the development could change depending on what retailers decide to call the site home. This also could include the addition of more retail square footage.

Right now developers are in talks with multiple fast casual restaurants who are interested in located in the project; many of which would be new to the Duluth market. There also are talks swirling around of a restaurant that serves "after dinner desserts" possibly locating in one of the retail buildings. Could this be Duluthian's long desire to have a CherryBerry or similar frozen yogurt franchise finally coming true? We'll keep our fingers crossed as long as you do also!

Renderings for the development show the type of retailers that ideally would locate in Platinum Plaza, however these are typically just references to what could locate within the project. Developers are hoping to have at least a few restaurants, one even possibly being a sit down restaurant, along with the possibly of luring a spa, a hair cutting chain of some sort, and possibly even a jeweler. 

Paulson feels confident on the overall development as Platinum Properties has been "working directly with the city and their planning and development teams; even with the mayor's office" throughout the entire development process. He later went on to say that everyone seems to be pretty "ecstatic on the development."

Shovels will break ground once four leases have been signed for the space, that could possibly even be as soon as this spring. Platinum Plaza could begin seeing the opening of tenants as soon as this coming fall.