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. 

 

 

NEW RESTAURANT PLANNED FOR FITGER'S

Might be winter, but it's time to start thinking about The Boat Club.

Local favorite, Midi Restaurant, has closed their doors to their location at the Fitger's Complex in Downtown Duluth and soon a new restaurant will call the space home, The Boat Club.

The Boat Club will be a full service restaurant with James Vincent as the brains behind the operation. He's the owner of the Vanilla Bean in Two Harbors and also the Vanilla Bean Coffee Shop that can be found within the Fitger's complex.

On the menu at his new restaurant will be local fish, fresh seafood and meats, along with burgers, sandwiches, and salads. A Twin Cities chef will be spear heading the kitchen while a local bartender is currently crafting an entirely new drink menu that will be sure to delight diners.

All the restaurants that have been been able to call home the space where The Boat Club will soon open have all enjoyed the iconic view of Lake Superior that is found from within the space. The Boat Club will capitalize on that view and will include shipping schedules on each table so that guests can tell what boats are floating by, a common question that has been asked by customers. 

In fact, that view is so important that that is the inspiration for the interior design of the restaurant which is being called "nautical simplicity", A.K.A. "Nothing should distract from the view." 

New to a restaurant within this space will be longer hours. The Boat Club will be open at 5am for breakfast and will serve dinner until 11pm. Those hours are great news for the locals and especially for those guests at the Fitger's Inn upstairs.

Renovations are well underway and plans are for the restaurant & bar to be open by February 10th... just in time for that perfect Valentine's Day dinner. 

The Boat Club is located at 600 E Superior Street in Fitger's. 

 

DULUTH PACK TO REMODEL FLAGSHIP STORE

Duluth's iconic Duluth Pack store will undergo a renovation in the coming months that will include an expansion of it's retail offerings.

Located in Canal Park, the store at 365 Canal Park Drive is spread over 8,500 square feet and originally opened in 1991. The renovation will keep the stores "outdoors brought indoors" look while the physical space will be re-configured to allow for a better customer experience. 

As part of the renovation Duluth Pack plans to capitalize on it's outdoor feel by introducing several large trees into the space. The company felt it was important to maintain that outdoor feeling as it has become some an major part of the brand.

The physical footprint of the store will not expand as the store is book ended by other retail stores on each sides. However through an evaluation of back of house space versus retail space, the stock areas will be streamlined and therefore can be made smaller allowing for the retail space to increase.

The renovation will begin later this month with an anticipated completion in March.

 

FAIRFIELD INN AND SUITES PLANNED FOR PARK POINT

ComingSoon.jpg

A new hotel is now under construction on Duluth's Park Point. Fairfield Inn and Suites will open their second Duluth location in early Summer 2017 at 1000 Minnesota Avenue adjacent to the Lakeland Boat Basin.

Details for this project have changed immensely since they were last made public. Developers a number of years ago had initially proposed a nine story hotel that would have featured a ground floor restaurant and 140 hotel rooms. Those plans immediately saw disapproval from the surrounding community which stated that the project was too large for the site.

Then the recession hit and the entire hotel project was put on hold.

In 2015 developers brought the idea of a hotel for the site back to the drawing board with plans showing a 70 room, three story AmericInn hotel with a convenience store on the ground level. The Duluth Planning Commission approved those plans however they were displeased that the hotel's architecture did not match the surrounding architecture of Park Point. The developers themselves were not even thrilled with the new plans stating that the hotel "would work, but it won't be as lucrative" as the original proposal.

Even with the approval and tentative date of opening last summer, construction never began on the AmericInn project and the site sat dormant with another failed project seeming to have occurred.

THE NEW PLAN

FRONT DESK OF NEW HOTEL DESIGN | FAIRFIELD INN BY MARRIOTT

What is now planned for the site, and actually already under construction, is a three story Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott. The hotel will contain 83 guest rooms, a little larger than the 70 room AmericInn originally planned for the site.

The design of the new Fairfield Inn and Suites hotel sports the chain's modern look and is drastically different than what was approved for the AmericInn. The hotel features a modern exterior with large uses of white stucco along with accent colors and horizontal linework. The design doesn't necessarily match the surrounding neighborhoods architecture however it is without a doubt a drastic improvement on what previously was proposed.

This new Fairfield Inn and Suites will be the second location for the company in Duluth, with the first located near the Miller Hill Mall. Another Marriott brand, Residence Inn, opened about a mile away from the Fairfield Inn location on Central Entrance around four years ago.

News of this new hotel project under construction shows that the recent hotel boom in Duluth is continuing. Pier B Resort opened this past Spring on Duluth's waterfront while Holiday Express and Suites opened in Hermantown a few months prior. Hampton Inn and Suites, which currently has one location in Canal Park, is constructing two more locations within the Twin Ports with the location across from Texas Roadhouse in Duluth expected to open in January while the location under construction in Superior will open next summer.

 

BREWERY PLANNED FOR CANAL PARK

Former Timer Lodge Steakhouse space  |  Perfect Duluth Day

Former Timer Lodge Steakhouse space | Perfect Duluth Day

Duluth’s fleet of breweries is about to become even larger. Hoops Brewing will open come Spring 2017 in the space that formerly housed Timber Lodge Steakhouse at 325 South Lake Avenue in Canal Park.

When it opens Hoops Brewing will be a 9,000 square foot “boutique” brewery complete with a 250 seat taproom that will be open to the public. Guests will be able to find between 15 and 30 beers on tap at a time. Food will not be provided in the taproom however guests can bring in food which won’t be an issue of finding considering Canal Park is packed with restaurants.

Dave Hoops, the man behind the project, has been brewing since the 1990’s including a job as master brewer at Duluth’s own Fitger’s Brewhouse. Melissa Rainville, another Fitger’s alumni, will join Hoops as Master Brewer.

The opening of Hoops Brewing in Canal Park will add to the list of breweries that have opened in Duluth in the past years. in fact Hoops Brewing will have a few close neighbors as Canal Park Brewing Company is just a few blocks away while in Downtown Duluth Blacklist Artisan Ales, another brewing facility and taproom, is under construction with an anticipated completion in December. 

 

COULD A SECOND TARGET BE IN DULUTH'S FUTURE?

Could Target’s newest small format store design be coming to Duluth? New renderings of BlueStone Commons may provide a hint.

Yesterday we posted an article about plans submitted to the city by the developers of BlueStone Commons. Unfortunately at this time those renderings provide few details for the project besides the fact that it would be much larger than expected. Depicted are an 11 story residential building along with a large freestanding retail building adjacent to it

While developers last year stated that they would like to attract a grocery tenant along the lines of Trader Joe’s or Aldi to the site it appears that while that large retail space would be perfectly suitable for them that it could in fact be a home to another retailer. Target.

You might be a frequent Target shopper like us and therefore might be saying to yourself how would a Target fit in such a small space. The answer? Target’s new small format store design.

In 2014 “Target Express” debuted in Minneapolis’ Dinkytown neighborhood with the 20,000 square foot store being about a sixth of the size of a typical Target location. While the "express" part of the name has been dropped from the concept as the expansion of the store design continues the basic business model remains. Small stores ranging between 16,000 and 30,000 square feet that can fit in to densely populated areas.

Flash forward to today and there are over 20 of these small format stores either open or in the works across the country.

Target's Dinkytown location | Target

SOMETIMES SMALLER IS BETTER THAN BIGGER

Rendering showing the retail space planned for BlueStone Commons | Planning Commission

The new small format stores offer the “best” of what Target has to offer. What that means is that instead of finding 15 types of toilet paper, you might only find 8. Same goes for all of the departments within the stores. You also may not find ALL of the departments that you would find in a typical Target location as the stores are built for the demographics found in the surrounding neighborhoods.

In Minnesota there currently are two of these small format locations open, one located in Minneapolis' Dinkytown neighborhood while the other is in St. Paul’s Highland neighborhood.

While the Dinkytown location is geared towards college students, the Highland location is geared towards the surrounding neighborhood of families and adults and includes Target’s upper-end Threshold brand along with a focus on wellness and family products. A third small format location will open next year in a new mixed-use development in the heart of Minneapolis’ Uptown neighborhood called “Revel”.

Duluth’s BlueStone Commons would be a perfect fit for a new small format Target as it is close to both colleges and dense neighborhoods, a demographic that this small format model was originally built for. While Target recently closed their location in Superior there has always been sources stating that Target was looking to open a second Duluth location, ideally in East Duluth. As noted by one of our readers the renderings provided by BlueStone Common’s developers show the retail space including a bright red canopy along with the signature red Target spheres in front of the store. Could it be the first hint?

While renderings don’t always depict what will in the end become reality, they do provide a good insight in to what tenant’s developers are looking to attract to a site or those tenants in which they may already be in negotiations with. To bring even more truth to a potential Target at BlueStone, recently various sources have reported that Target has been seeking construction bids within the Twin Ports. Could this be for a new location at BlueStone Commons or could it be for improvements to their location near the Miller Hill Mall? Time will tell.

As more details become available on BlueStone Commons and their exciting final phase, whether that includes a Target or not, you’ll be sure to find them right here at CDINDULUTH.

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.

 

ALDI FILES PLANS FOR DULUTH STORE

Aldi in Superior, WI | CDINDULUTH

Aldi is moving forward with their plans for a new Duluth location.

The discount supermarket chain has filed their plans with the City of Duluth's planning commission for an 18,553 square foot freestanding location at the corner of Mall Drive and Mountain Shadow drive. The store would utilize the chains most recent "version 7.0 prototype" design.

Aldi announced their interest in the Duluth market nearly two years ago. Their first Twin Ports location opened at 4429 Tower Avenue in Superior last November and has been a great success. That success immediately had Aldi working on plans for a Duluth location. The chain says Duluth could even hold the possibility for more than one location in the future.

In Duluth Aldi will occupy a space at the Village Mall that is currently a parking lot in front of Hobby Lobby and Savers and adjacent to Grandma's Restaurant.

Right now the Village Mall shopping center is going through a renovation including a completely new parking lot, a new facade for Savers that will match Hobby Lobby's, and also the addition of a drive through drop off area for Savers. PetSmart also has plans to open at the center and is currentlyconstructing a 19,000 square foot store in the remaining Kmart space next to Hobby Lobby. That store is expected to open in Spring 2017.

More details on this exciting project will be made available soon.

 

CARIBOU COFFEE & EINSTEIN BROS BAGELS ANNOUNCE OPENING DATE

The interior of a Caribou Coffee & Einstein Bros Bagels location | Caribou Coffee

The first co-branded location for Caribou Coffee and Einstein Brothers Bagels will open November 9th at 2100 London Road in the new Endi mixed-use development.

The location will be the first retail tenant to open within the building which is nearing its completion and expects to welcome its first residents home this fall. Two other retail spaces have been spoken for in the development, a Papa Murphy's location will open in one (the fourth location in Duluth) and a local optometrist will open an office in another.

There still are a few remaining retail spaces within the complex that the developer hopes to fill with tenants that will benefit the building's residents and also the surrounding community.

While this is the first co-branded location for Caribou and Einstein it is not the first, nor is it the last location for the companies within the Twin Ports. Caribou Coffee currently operates four locations within Duluth while Einstein Bros has one location at the College of St. Scholastica. Another co-branded Caribou and Einstein Bros location will open in the coming months on the ground floor of the new Kenwood Village development. 

The new location will be open Monday through Friday from 5am-9pm, Saturdays from 6am-9pm, and Sundays from 6am-8pm.

 

PITA PIT PLANS DULUTH LOCATION

The Pita Pit store prototype design | Pita Pit

“Fresh Thinking, Healthy Eating” is the mindset behind a new fast casual restaurant that is setting up shop in Downtown Duluth. Pita Pit plans to open their first Duluth location in the new Maurices headquarters at 425 West Superior St. in November.

Pita Pit was founded in 1995 in Canada by John Sotiriadis and Nelson Lang. The duo wanted to open a fast casual restaurant that offered a healthy alternative with a Mediterranean inspired menu. In just 15 years Pita Pit grew from one single location to over 500 locations in 11 different countries. In Minnesota the company currently has three locations including one at the Mall of America in Bloomington and two others in Mankato and Brooklyn Park.

Think of Pita Pit as the Subway of the Pita world. Customers begin by selecting a type of meat, such as philly cheesesteak, falafel, chicken souvlaki or other Mediterranean inspired meats. From there they can add toppings by choosing from a selection of cheeses, vegetables and sauces.

When Pita Pit opens in November the street level of Maurice’s brand new headquarters will be completely leased with Blue Cross Blue Shield and Minnesota Power Employees Credit Union filling the remaining spaces. One 6,100 square foot office or retail space remains on the skyway level.

 

 

F.Y.E. TO OPEN MILLER HILL MALL LOCATION

A newly opened F.Y.E. location at Crossgates Mall   |   F.Y.E.

A newly opened F.Y.E. location at Crossgates Mall  |  F.Y.E.

A new entertainment store selling music, movies, games, CDs, DVDs, vinyls, fan merchandise and more is about to make the Miller Hill Mall it's home. F.Y.E. (For Your Entertainment) will open the doors to it's new store on October 21st.

The entertainment retailer will be moving into the space that was left vacant when Wet Seal closed their location at the mall after the company declared bankruptcy. It's been almost two years since Wet Seal's closure and that space has yet to find a permanent tenant... until now that is.

A BLAST FROM THE PAST?

Now if you are thinking to yourself that F.Y.E. reminds you of a retailer that went by the name of Sam Goody (which had a location at the Miller Hill Mall about a decade ago) then you're on the right track. Why? Well, F.Y.E. is what Sam Goody turned into.

Both companies were owned by Trans World and in 2006 it was decided that Sam Goody would cease operations with a large number of their locations closing, including the one at the Miller Hill Mall. The locations that did remain open however were rebranded as F.Y.E.

The former Wet Seal space | CDINDULUTH

Interior of a new F.Y.E. location | F.Y.E.

A NEW LOOK FOR F.Y.E.

F.Y.E. struggled after the recession in 2008 like many retailers and closed a number of underperforming stores. In recent years the company has been looking for ways to stay competitive in the market and in 2015 revamped their image and their store offerings by introducing an entirely new F.Y.E. store. 

Today customers will find not only CDs and DVDS but rather tons of pop-culture merchandise and a large selection of vinyls. That large selection of vinyls is one of the biggest things that has put F.Y.E. back on the map in recent years. As all styles and trends come into the spotlight again, vinyls have ultimately swept the stage becoming extremely popular with the millennial generation.

F.Y.E plans to open their Duluth location later this month with the Miller Hill Mall mall officials stating Friday, October 21st as the anticipated opening date. Once open it will be the first location for the retailer in Northern Minnesota and their second in Minnesota.

 

PETSMART BEGINS CONSTRUCTION ON DULUTH LOCATION

Construction is officially underway on Duluth's second big-box pet supply retailer.

PetSmart will call Duluth home next spring when their location opens in the last available space that was left vacant when Kmart closed their Duluth Heights location. 88,000 square feet of the space was leased to Hobby Lobby which opened their first Northern Minnesota location in the space in 2013.

PetSmart is a direct competitor of Petco, which already has a Duluth location less than a mile away in the Stone Ridge Shopping Center. PetSmart's new 25,000 square foot location will sell pet supplies along with small household pets such as rodents, snakes, amphibians, and fish, and will also include a grooming center.

Photos of the construction progress of PetSmart can be viewed by clicking the link below. Hover over the "Construction Galleries" tab at the top of your screen to see other projects currently under construction within the area.



 

NEW BOHEMIA BIERHAUS LOOKING TO EXPAND TO DULUTH

Craving a German pretzel and a German sized beer to wash it down? Your wish could be granted soon.

New Bohemia Wurst and Bierhaus is looking to expand to Duluth. The only problem is that they have yet to find the perfect place to call home. We spoke with Brian Ingram of New Bohemia who explained that the company is currently searching for a suitable location to open within Twin Ports. 

Not familiar with New Bohemia? We'll fill you in.

The restaurant and bar opened their first location in Minneapolis' Northeast neighborhood in 2012. Since then the company has expanded to include 6 locations within the Twin Cities and also a food truck.

Interior of a typical restaurant | New Bohemia

New Bohemia is known as a "New American Craft Bier Hall" where the restaurants often feature 36 local and international beers on tap and a number of food items including of course... Germam sausages. How many types of sausages? 24 to be exact.

We've all had sausage before, however we're not sure that we have all had the sausages featured on New Bohemia's menu. They include sausage such as Smoked Elk, Alligator Bayou, Rattlesnake, Rabbit and Jackalope. 

None of those fancy your appetite? Don't worry. The menu also features classic sausages, burgers, Belgian style fries, salads, and of course potato salad. Oh yes, and how could we forget, there's trivia on Thursday nights!

Now let's talk about New Bohemia's love for the community.

New Bohemia is special because they really love the local community. As in, REALLY, love the community.

Their love includes the locally sourced meats they serve on their menu and the fact that they typically give 28 of their 36 taps to local breweries, with some of those beers being created just for New Bohemia.

We can cross our fingers that New Bohemia finds a place to call home soon within our community. If you want to make that search easier you can always suggest a location by contacting us here

Until then, take the time to visit New Bohemia's and learn a little bit more about them. You could visit their website here.

EntreeNew Bohemia

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Crooked Pint Ale House plans Duluth location; New tenants announced for Kenwood Village

Crooked Pint in Minneapolis  |  Crooked Pint

Crooked Pint in Minneapolis | Crooked Pint

Twin Ports Residents, raise your glasses. A new pub is coming to town.  

Crooked Pint Alehouse, a nouveu styled urban pub, will open their first Northern Minnesota location at Kenwood Village come Summer 2017. The 4,958 square foot location will take up the largest ground floor retail space and will feature a patio with seating for 76 on the corner of Arrowhead Road and Kenwood Avenue.

Cooked Pint is a Minnesota chain of restaurants based out the Twin Cities that currently has 4 locations within the state. They’re known for their pub fare and for having a huge selection of beers on tap with most locations having atleast 32 available.

Layout for the Duluth Crooked Pint location  |  Duluth Planning Commission

Layout for the Duluth Crooked Pint location | Duluth Planning Commission

Now while the restaurant may be a chain, you’ll most likely forget that when you step in the door. Crooked Pint restaurants feature rough-sawn oak floors and pub styled furniture. It’s meant to feel like a neighborhood restaurant and anything but a chain.

The Duluth location will feature a large bar centered within the room with seating for 30. We're sure this place will be a MAJOR hit with the local college students and residents alike.

ADDITIONAL TENANTS

Two additional tenants were also announced for the Kenwood Village development when the developer filed their plans with the Duluth Planning Commission. Those plans will go under review at next weeks meeting.

Kenwood Village Development | Duluth Planning Commission

Little Caesar’s will open their second Duluth location on the ground floor in a 1,291 square foot space. The first location for the company in on Michigan Street in Duluth’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. The new location is expected to open in Spring of 2017

Duluth Teachers Credit Union will move their location from 1358 West Arrowhead Road into a new 2,271 square foot space on the ground floor. The new branch is expected to open sometime in 2017.

Don't forget the other previously announced tenant. Caribou Coffee and Einstein Brothers Bagels will open a dual branded location within development also. The 2,500 square foot location will be located on an end-cap on the ground floor and will feature a drive-thru.

One remaining 2,300 square foot retail space is available within the development. Could our dreams of getting a second Chipotle location come true? Let’s cross our fingers.

 

CINNABON WANTS TO BE BACK IN DULUTH AND SO DOES AUNTIE ANNE'S

A Cinnabon "kiosk" location  |  Cinnabon

A Cinnabon "kiosk" location | Cinnabon

Craving one of those delicious, warm Cinnabon cinnamon rolls? Yeah, the ones you were use to getting at the Miller Hill Mall over 5 years ago when a location graced the food court. Well, you might be in luck.

Cinnabon has begun the search for a new franchisee to open a location at the Miller Hill Mall. Oh, and they're ready now....as in immediately. That's how the company's website lists the opportunity for a new store at the Miller Hill Mall. If your interested, you can apply for more information here.

Dual branded location | Cinnabon

But wait, there's more.

Focus Brands is the parent company who owns Cinnabon and a number of other food establishments, one of those being Auntie Anne's.

The Duluth News Tribune has reported that Auntie Anne's in also interested in opening in the Miller Hill Mall although the company's website does not list the mall as an available opportunity. Occasionally the company will build dual branded stores that include both a Cinnabon and an Auntie Anne's.

It's interesting in that Focus Brands is looking to re-enter the Twin Ports market. The last Focus Brand company within the area, Schlotzky's Deli, closed in the Holiday Center last year. Focus Brands also owns Carvel, Moe's Southwest Grill, and McAlister's Deli, none of which have MInnesota locations at the moment.

Moe's Southwest Grill has had two Minnesota locations, the last of which closed last year due to "operational issues." The company is looking to open 35 locations within the Twin Cities and additional locations in Southern and Northern Minnesota.

 

SEARS HOLDINGS LISTS DULUTH PROPERTIES

Sears has made three new "opportunities" available within the Twin Ports for retailers, developers/investors, and real estate brokers.

Sears Holdings Corporation, the real estate portion of the Sears/K-Mart company, has made available last three properties within the Twin Ports. This includes their 86,611 square foot K-Mart store at 215 North Central Ave in West Duluth along with their 98,938 square Sears store and the attached 9,131 square foot automative center at the Miller Hill Mall.

Throughout the state of Minnesota Sears Holdings has listed 11 K-Mart stores, 2 K-Mart Automotive Centers, 10 Sears stores and 10 Sears Automotive centers as available. Overall 33 properties were made available within Minnesota, one of those properties being the Sears flagship location at the Mall of America.

Available Sears Auto space highlighted in red

A CHANGE IN THE RETAIL GAME

As competition from online retailers and new retailers heats up Sears and K-Mart have seen a continued decline. This has resulted in a number of closings in the past few years with one of those being the K-Mart location near the Miller Hill Mall (now a Hobby Lobby and soon a PetSmart). More recently the company has begun to re-evaluate their company's real estate to see which properties the company can relieve themselves of resulting in large savings.

In some locations across the country Sears is downsizing their stores, many of which are over 100,000 square feet, to around 40,000 square feet leaving the rest up for redevelopment.

In some cases British retailer Primark is snatching up the extra space and opening some of their first locations within the United States. In others cases malls are using it as an excuse to expand their retail offerings with new retail space along with renovations.

NOW WHAT ABOUT DULUTH?

With the K-Mart space being listed in West Duluth it implies that that store would close. There is a chance the a real estate company could purchase the space and rent it back to K-Mart which would relieve Sears from a number of costs associated with owning a building rather than leasing it.

If K-Mart does close, it would be the biggest retail space to become available in the West End in decades and it would be a prime opportunity for a redevelopment and re-positioning of the Spirit Valley Shopping Center.

At the Miller Hill Mall the closing of Sears would be a major hit... or a major gain depending on the way you look at it. While the automotive center seems like it might be a little tougher spot to fill at it sits at the back of the mall, the Sears space is another story. 

You might not have noticed it but there is a MAJOR lack of space at the Miller Hill Mall recently. The downsizing of Sears or a closure could result in a huge opportunity for the Miller Hill Mall to expand it's retail space. 

All three spaces are available for inquiries here. In the future when more information becomes available on the potential future uses of these spaces you'll be able to find it right here on CDINDULUTH!

 
 

MILLS FLEET FARM TO OPEN TOMORROW

The day is here. Mills Fleet Farm will officially open the doors to their brand new Hermantown location tomorrow morning at 7am.

This will be the company's first Twin Ports location and second in the Northland. The 183,000 square foot store will open at the corner of Loberg Avenue and Market Street. The area surrounding it has been pegged as "Hermantown Marketplace" and is expected to see substantial retail growth in the future with Fleet Farm kickstarting that growth.

Store map for Hermantown (same as Appleton, WI location)  | Mills Fleet Farm

Store map for Hermantown (same as Appleton, WI location) | Mills Fleet Farm

Hermantown's location will sell thousands of items including sporting and hunting goods, farm supplies, clothing, home improvement items, and much more. There's even a seasonal garden center. 

That's not all though. There's also an auto service department, outdoor lumber yard, gas station with 16 filling stations, a car wash and even a kerosene dispenser.

The new store will employee between 150 and 200 people and will be open Monday through Friday from 7am-8pm, Saturdays 7am-9pm, and Sundays from 8am-pm. The gas station will be open daily from 6am-10pm.

 

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.

 

GOLDEN CORRAL TO ENTER MINNESOTA, SETS SIGHTS ON DULUTH

A recently opened Golden Corral location in Las Vegas | Review Journal

Have you ever been to the Best Buffet in the USA? Probably not since the nearest location of the place that bills itself that is about 4 hours away in Wisconsin. Soon that drive will be cut in half.

Golden Corral announced last week that it plans to enter the Minnesota market after decades of waiting when their newest location opens in August in Maple Grove, a second location will open in Maplewood in October. Both locations will open in former Old Country Buffet spaces.

Old Country Buffet is largely what kept Golden Corral out of Minnesota. The buffet chain was the second largest buffet chain in the United States and began in Minnesota in 1983. It's tough to take a company's home turf. 

That was until last year when parent company Ovation Brands filled for bankruptcy and closed over 100 locations across the country. The closings brought the total number of locations for the company down to 127, a relatively low number compared to the 347 locations that were open just a few years prior.

GROWTH IN MINNESOTA

We spoke with Dale Maxfield about the future expansion of Golden Corral in Minnesota. He knows what's in store (literally and figuratively) as he is the franchisee who is responsible for the openings of the Maple Grove and Maplewood Golden Corral locations.

Dale is a Minnesota resident and is by no means a stranger to the buffet business. In 1990 he became the VP of Operations for none other than Golden Corral's competitor, Old Country Buffet. He stayed in that position for 15 years and exited the company in 2006 just two years prior to Old Country Buffet filing their first bankruptcy. 

Today Dale owns four Golden Corral locations in Indian, Iowa, and Nebraska. 

Interior of a golden corral location | golden corral

While the locations in Maple Grove and Maplewood will both open in less than 90 days, there are already more locations in the works. Potential future locations elsewhere in the state include Rochester and Woodbury where Old Country Buffet also previously had locations. The Twin Cities area could eventually become home to five more Golden Corral locations when all is said and done.

SO WHERE DOES DULUTH COME IN?

 "I know the Duluth market and like it a lot" Dan told us when discussing if a Duluth location could be in the foreseeable future.

Duluth is for sure on the maps. In fact, Dale is very aware of the Twin Ports market and also very aware that at the moment it's buffetless (we're making that a word). Old Country Buffet's closed in June at the Miller Hill Mall being part of Ovation Brand's latest list of mass closures which included all the Old Country Buffet locations in Minnesota except one in Burnsville.

A VACANCY TO FILL 

Old Country Buffet left a large retail space in the Miller Hill Mall vacant. Mall officials are certain the space will be filled quickly due to it's high visibility and also due to the large amount of continuous space (it's hard to find space at the mall these days). 

Will Golden Corral take over the space as the company is doing elsewhere in the state? It's not in the plans now. "Duluth is a great market for Golden Corral and I will be searching for a location" Dan explained to us, however at the moment nothing has been leased within the market.

Golden Corral currently has four prototype designs with the smallest being a 7,751 square foot location with seating for 276 people and the largest being a 14,155 square foot location with seating for 520 guests. The smallest location would be the most likely to fit in the former Old Country Buffet space.

We will continue to monitor Golden Corral's expansion into Minnesota and their search for a suitable location in Duluth. To suggest a location for Golden Corral, contact us here.

NORSHOR THEATRE RENOVATION BEGINS

A project nearly a decade in the making is finally underway.

On Tuesday a press conference was held at the NorShor Theater in Downtown Duluth with notable individuals such as Mayor Emily Larson in attendance.

The reason? The keys to the property were officially being handed over marking the start of a renovation and restoration project of Duluth's oldest and most historic theater, a project in the making since the early 2000's

THE HISTORY

The NorShor Theater was constructed in 1910 and back then it wasn't called what it is today, rather it was the Orpheum Theater. As a Classical Revival styled theater the NorShor stood out as one of the most luxurious theaters in Northern Minnesota.

For most of the early 1900's the NorShor was the premiere place for Vaudeville performances within Duluth and was also one of the first movie theaters within the city.

Current state of the NorShor Theatre | CDINDULUTH

Come the 1940's and the Orpheum Theatre emerged in a new form having been renovated in an Art Deco style and also having been renamed, now being called the NorShor Theater. The crowning element of the theatre's design was a 125 foot tall tower gracing the exterior, clad in porcelain and covered in over 3,000 lights.

Decades later once the 21st century hit the NorShor was in a far different light having long exited it's glory days. It operated under a number uses in the early 2000's, most of which used the space in every way that was not originally intended with the most notable being a strip club.

However in 2010 a glimmer of hope appeared when the Duluth Economic Development Authority purchased the NorShor Theatre and a few adjacent buildings for $2.5 million. It marked the beginning of a long planning process for full renovation and restoration of the building.

THE PLAN

That plan is finally becoming reality.

Estimated to cost $30.5 million dollars, the NorShor Theater will bring new life to the recently designated Duluth Arts and Theater District which includes a number of thriving restaurants, bars, shops, and even two independent movie theaters.

Sherman Associates now owns the NorShor Theatre and will be responsible for the redevelopment of the property. They're not a new company to the Twin Ports, in fact they're also the company behind the renovation of Greysolon Plaza and also the development of the building that is home to the Sheraton Hotel and 311 Superior Condos.

The renovation of the NorShor Theatre will create a state-of-the-art 700 seat live performance theater in the Art Deco style.  Sherman Associates also plans to bring back a bar and lounge to the building which will take note from the 1940's Milk Bar that once existed within the NorShor.

The project is expected to be completed in December 2017 and soon after the Duluth Playhouse will move in. After seven years the Playhouse is expected to take full ownership of the building.