You would be justified in wondering why I, an uptight Chamber executive, walk along the streets of beautiful downtown Duluth singing to myself the lyric, “This place is about to blow.” You would also have good reason to ponder why I choose to open this editorial with this lyric from the song, Blow, recorded in 2011 by singer and songwriter, Kesha.
I do so because it so beautifully and succinctly conveys, in one simple line, the burst of investment and development about to occur within our beloved community. This place, Duluth, is about to blow.
As a reference point, when the Maurices tower was built at 425 West Superior Street, a few years ago, the $80 million development was the largest single development in Duluth’s 148-year history. The Chamber’s leadership is eternally grateful to Maurices for providing this needed and transformational investment in our historic downtown.
The community benefit derived from the Maurices project will soon be wonderfully amplified, multiple times, by the private investment and development that is about to occur in our Zenith City. For starters, Essentia Health is moving forward with what will be the largest medical expansion project in Minnesota. This $800 million project, called Vision Northland, will include the replacement of Duluth’s largest hospital while also making renovations to related facilities across its downtown campus.
Concurrently, St. Luke’s is preparing to invest $250 million to optimize its downtown medical campus. The City of Duluth is seeking $184 million in state funding to provide needed public infrastructure in and around the revitalized Essentia and St. Luke’s Medical District. This will include updating the Duluth District Energy System which serves the medical district. Plans are to also improve the roads and streets in the district.
Additionally, there is a proposed 15-story apartment building being planned for 333 East Superior Street – at the Voyageur Lakewalk Inn property. It will be a $75 million development, including 204 apartments, housing over 400 individuals. The Superior Street level will include a grocery store. This investment is being made possible through a partnership including Duluth’s Titanium Partners, Madison-Based Landmark, and a Chicago developer. This project illustrates the optimism being displayed by private developers in Duluth.
Remarkably, there is even more great news. Lake Superior College is working closely with the City of Duluth and a private developer to build a housing project near their college campus. The proposed development will include approximately 300 apartments. It will be privately owned and managed.
Fortunately, construction is underway at the City View Flats development. This $20 million apartment complex will include 106 housing units. The Chamber applauds MBJ Development, the City of Duluth, and the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency for bringing this attractive project to 333 North First Avenue West. The aforementioned three housing projects will bring 610 needed housing units to our community.
These developments will occur while work begins on the much anticipated, massive highway and bridge reconstruction project – the Twin Ports Interchange, located at the Interstate 35 and U.S. Highway 53 interchange. The project is expected to cost $275 million. It will begin in 2019.
I’ll do the math for you. The above-mentioned projects combine for a $1 billion 604 million investment in Duluth.
The Chamber has been, and remains, an unwavering advocate for each of these exciting projects. We understand how they will uplift our community. They will provide a refreshing surge of investment, jobs and opportunity. The Chamber’s leadership appreciates and applauds these bold community leaders and investors who clearly are illustrating their optimism for our shining city on the hill.
President & CEO