Former gas station refurbished for retailersSpeculation that the quick-service Asian Food chain based in the Twin Cities was moving to the former service station at the corner of Woodland Avenue and St. Marie Street in Duluth has some basis, but it has no plans to do so.
By: Candace Renalls, Duluth News Tribune
What: University Corner
Where: 1624 Woodland Ave., Duluth
Project: The former service station at the corner of Woodland Avenue and St. Marie Street is being transformed into a 3,200-square-foot mini-mall for one to three retailers.
Timeline: Exterior work began last spring and will be completed before winter, when the parking lot, a patio and landscaping should be completed. Interior remodeling will start when tenants are signed.
Status: The gas tanks and contaminated soil from its years as a gas station were removed. The building was gutted to its concrete block shell. A new roof, electrical wiring and transformers, stucco siding and windows were installed. By winter, sidewalks, parking lot, landscaping and an outdoor patio should be in. A staircase will connect the parking lot to the upper level parking lot of the Mount Royal Shopping Center next door.
Interior remodeling will be done when a tenant or tenants are signed.
Project cost: Undisclosed
Owner: Ohana Holdings LLC of Duluth
Property manager: Melhus Management Co.
Background: A gas/service station had operated on the site for decades, ending with the closing of University Service last year. Ohana Holdings, which also owns the adjacent Mount Royal Shopping Center, purchased the property in February for $550,000, city property records show.
“It made sense for us to have it, because we had everything around it,” said property manager Ryan Boman.
Tenants: So far, no tenants have been lined up. But the 3,200-square-foot building ideally would house a fast, casual food service in 2,200 square feet with an outdoor patio and a small retailer in the other 1,000-square-foot space.
What about Leeann Chin? Speculation that Leeann Chin was moving in has some basis. Bowman said they were talking to Leeann Chin, a quick-service Asian Food chain based in the Twin Cities. They even had a draft lease drawn up. But no deal was reached.
“They are not moving in,” Boman said last week. “We’d love to have them, but we presently aren’t talking to them. We aren’t actively negotiating with them.”
However, he left the door open.
“If they want to come here, we’re here,” he said. “Nothing’s really changed. We’d love to have them, but we don’t have a deal with them.”
Mike Loney, Leeann Chin’s chief operating officer, did not return a call from the News Tribune last week.
Design: The design is intended to complement the adjacent Mount Royal Shopping Center while tying it into its corner location. The architect went with a more modern color scheme of neutral tones, including khaki and beige. Instead of a blue accent, he went with aluminum and metal for a more industrial look.
General contractor: Johnson-Wilson Constructors, Duluth
Architect: Bdp Architects, Duluth
Construction jobs: 10 to 15, so far.
Grand plan: The project fits into the city’s goal of creating more student housing, dining and retail options near the University of Minnesota Duluth. Moreover, University Corner would complement the mixed-use development planned for the former Woodland Middle School site one-half mile away.
“This fits some of that demand that’s not currently being filled,” Boman said. “And I think that demand will grow. So this is a step in that direction.”