Chester Creek 'mixed-use' project gets go-ahead from Duluth Planning CommissionIf Duluth city planner Steven Robertson wanted a poster child for the city’s recent efforts to foster what it calls “mixed-use neighborhoods,” a project approved Tuesday night by the Planning Commission could be it.
By: Mike Creger, Duluth News Tribune
If Duluth city planner Steven Robertson wanted a poster child for the city’s recent efforts to foster what it calls “mixed-use neighborhoods,” a project approved Tuesday night by the Planning Commission could be it.
The commission gave the final go-ahead on plans for a new building project headed by the owners of At Sara’s Table/Chester Creek Café. The retail and apartment structure would go up at the intersection of Eighth Street and 19th Avenue East, on the opposite corner from the café and across from Vintage Italian Pizza.
Robertson called it a “true mixed-use structure” when presenting the final plan.
“Staff really supports this,” he said. “We can’t say enough good things about it.”
Carla Blumberg offered her vision of the building last year when the commission changed the land use for the corner to “mixed-use neighborhood,” meaning it encouraged living spaces mingled with commercial activity at the site.
The building will have three floors that front Eighth Street. Because of the slope of the property, the back of the building that faces homes will appear two stories tall. It will have three retail spaces on the lower floors and eight apartment units on the top two floors. Those living areas will range from large apartments to smaller studio-type spaces. There will be a communal rooftop deck as well.
Parking will be in the back of the building off the alley.
The main building will sit off the 19th Avenue edge of the four-lot property to allow room for community and café gardens. A greenhouse already has been built on the site.
“It’s going to be nice looking,” Blumberg said this week. The plans call for a mostly brick facade, and Blumberg said she’ll follow familiar sustainability building processes similar those used to build the face 10 years ago.
She said she has talked to people who have expressed interest in the
retail spots. She’s been planning the building for the past few years. Blumberg said she’d like to start the project this spring. Because of the space needed for construction, the gardens won’t be in place until next year.
The corner has been the home of a gas station, office building and homes. It has sat empty for the past few years.
Janell Hirschoff lives next to Vintage Italian Pizza and the new building would be directly across from her home, which she shares with her husband and two small children. She told commissioners that she would prefer a “neighborhood” feel to the area rather than an “urbane” one.
She said the project will only increase traffic at an intersection already busy with cars and buses traveling to and from the nearby University of Minnesota Duluth and College of St. Scholastica campuses.
The family moved to their home in 2010.
“It’s already not a great neighborhood feel,” Hirschoff said. “It’s
going to feel like an urban center.”
Commission president Terry Guggenbuehl said he is a neighbor as well and was skeptical of the project when it was first floated last year. The final plan impressed him as the city works to create business and residential nodes that blend into neighborhoods.
“This exceeds my expectations,” he said. “It’s just ideal for that particular spot.”
New commission member Garner Moffat also said the mixed-use concept was being used well at the intersection.
“If I lived across from it, I’d have no problem with it,” Moffat said.