Dental office slated for former Conoco site at Mount RoyalThe slow transformation of the old University Conoco Station at Woodland Avenue and St. Marie Street began more than a year ago.
By: Candace Renalls, Duluth News Tribune
The slow transformation of the old University Conoco Station at Woodland Avenue and St. Marie Street began more than a year ago.
But by the end of summer, University Corner will finally see new life: Mount Royal Dental will move in when the interior work is completed later this summer.
Dr. Camille Zelen, formerly with Gallery Dental in Duluth, is establishing her own practice at the site. She had been with Gallery Dental at 230 E. Central Entrance until recently.
The property’s manager, Ryan Boman of Melhus Management Co., said several prospective tenants — including food-related businesses that many had hoped to see there — considered the site near the University of Minnesota Duluth. Most prominent was Leeann Chin, which instead opted for the Miller Hill Mall food court as its entry into the Duluth market.
“Obviously, we talked,” Boman said of the popular restaurant chain. “But our job is to fill the space.”
Zelen, 35, who was a cardiac nurse before becoming a dentist, chose the location for her dental office because it’s part of the Mount Royal shopping area and convenient for people living in the area. It’s also close to her family’s home, and where her husband — Dr. Dan Zelen, a Duluth
radiologist — had grown up.
“Mount Royal Dental will be a state-of-the-art, family-friendly office, offering advanced cosmetic and laser dentistry as well as traditional dentistry for all family members,” Zelen said in a statement. “Working with families to provide their full-service dental needs is a passion of mine.”
The site’s makeover began in early 2012, after the longtime gas station closed. First up was removal of the underground tanks and contaminated soil. Then the concrete block building was gutted and the electrical system replaced.
The new owner, Ohana Holdings, which also owns most of the adjacent Mount Royal Shopping Center, was going to wait for a tenant before refurbishing what had become an unsightly exterior.
But months passed without any takers.
So Ohana had Johnson-Wilson Constructors of Duluth give the exterior a new modern look, with large storefronts, a pleasing facade and a new roof. The parking lot was paved, leaving space for an outdoor patio on the south end, just in case a food service moved in.
The result was a striking improvement with space that could accommodate one to three businesses.
Since then, people have been eager to find out what would go in there. A restaurant? Retail? Offices?
But months passed and no additional work was done on the building.
That changed a few weeks ago, when workers arrived and began removing the concrete floor. It was the first step in turning 2,200 square feet — or two-thirds — of the building into a dental office.
According to building permits on file with the city of Duluth, $15,000 in interior prep work by Johnson-Wilson Constructors will prepare the interior for the build-out. Then Karkela Construction of St. Louis Park, Minn., with a specialty in dental and health-care construction, will transform the space into a modern dental clinic, a job estimated to cost $252,000.
Boman previously said remodeling costs would be part of any lease arrangement reached.
About 1,000 square feet of storefront space remains available for lease on the north end of the building along St. Marie Street, he said.