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Summit Ridge expansion on track

Workers lay concrete block on Tuesday for the foundation of a 12-plex apartment building under construction at Summit Ridge luxury housing in Duluth. Lumber One of Avon, Minn., which is serving as the general contractor, also built the existing Summit Ridge apartment buildings as well as the adjacent Boulder Ridge development. (Clint Austin / / 3
Mark Lambert2 / 3
The Summit Ridge housing complex in Duluth is expanding with five new buildings. They will be smaller than the existing apartment buildings but will sport a similar look and also be three stories tall. (Clint Austin / / 3

The final expansion of the Summit Ridge luxury apartments in Duluth is underway, creating 60 new multi-family units. Construction quietly began last month along Boulder Drive off Rice Lake Road and should be completed in the fall.

The $7.5 million project marks the completion of Summit Ridge, bringing its total number of housing units to 202.

Its finish follows the completion of the neighboring Boulder Ridge luxury apartment homes. Both were built by developer Mark Lambert in phases over the past eight years.

“For the purpose of apartments, this is the last; we filled it up,” said Lambert, referring to the land acquired for Boulder Ridge and Summit Ridge.

Lambert’s Summit Management is also behind Campus Park student housing and the new BlueStone mixed-use development in Duluth.

Unlike Summit Ridge’s two existing three-story apartment buildings — one built in 2009 with 69 units and the other in 2011 with 73 units — this last phase consists of five smaller three-story buildings.

Two of the new buildings will have six townhomes, each with three bedrooms and tuck-under garages. Two buildings will have 12 apartments and one will have 24 apartments. The apartments will be one- and two-bedroom units.

The five sites were shovel-ready, already cleared and with all the roads and utilities in.

Rents will start at $800 to $1,400 per month for the smaller units, Lambert said. Leases will be for six to nine months to make it easier for tenants.

While Boulder Ridge tenants primarily are college students, and Summit Ridge is half students and half seniors, the new units will be geared to a general market, Lambert said.

“We hear a lot about working families and seniors looking for houses,” he said.

Luxury housing needed

The expansion comes after a study found the city of Duluth needs 4,470 new housing units by 2020 to meet the needs of a growing workforce.

The need isn’t just for market-rate and low-income housing, said Chris Eng, the city’s director of business and economic development.

“It does include luxury,” Eng said. “Our intent is not to specify certain income levels. It’s 4,400 units across the board. It includes people we’re trying to attract that have high incomes.”

They may include certified airframe and power-plant mechanics needed by AAR Aircraft Services, engineers needed by Cirrus Aircraft and Maurices’ growing team at its downtown headquarters.

“Everything and anything that is being considered will help us get to that goal,” Eng said.

While 60 more units at Summit Ridge will help the city’s need for more housing, that’s not the driving reason for the expansion.

It was the plan all along.

“We wanted to do it about two years ago,” Lambert said. “Then BlueStone came along. We set Summit Ridge aside for a couple of years. Now we’re far enough into BlueStone, that we can finish the Summit Ridge project.”