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Last Woodland Avenue houses going down to make way for BlueStone

A Caterpillar excavator sits on the ruins of demolished houses and in front of another slated for razing as its operator tears up a deck along Woodland Avenue in Duluth on Wednesday afternoon. Veit began demolishing several houses on Tuesday to make way for the second phase of the Shops at BlueStone. (Steve Kuchera /

The last in a row of houses along Woodland Avenue will be demolished today or tomorrow to make way for another BlueStone retail center.

The second Shops at BlueStone will be built at Woodland and Clover Street. It will consist of two buildings — one 5,100 square feet and the other 5,400 — that will house six to eight businesses.

“Leasing is just getting underway,” developer Mark Lambert said. “At this point we’ve had a favorable response.”

No leases have been signed yet, but Lambert is aiming for a couple of restaurants, a couple of retailers and a couple of service businesses, similar to the existing Shops at BlueStone, which opened this year at the other end of the block.

“We want the same kind of mix,” he said. “We want a nice selection, a little bit of each.”

Demolition of the six older houses, whose tenants vacated by the end of June, began Tuesday. That’s one day after Qdoba Mexican Grill opened its doors, the last of seven businesses to open at the first Shops at BlueStone.

The timing was a coincidence, Lambert said.

Demolition was next on the project’s schedule after tenants moved out and the properties were readied for razing. After the site is completely leveled today, site work will be done before construction starts in September.

Lambert expects to hold a ceremonial groundbreaking in late August or early September, when some future tenants probably will be announced.

The existing Shops at BlueStone also is a two-building retail center of about 10,000 square feet. It is located on Woodland Avenue across from the new pedestrian entrance to the University of Minnesota Duluth campus. Besides Qdoba, it houses Starbucks, Chilly Billy’s frozen yogurt, Northern Communities Credit Union, Kat’s Eyes Optical, Sports Clips and Waxing the City.

Besides being similar in size, the $3 million second retail center will sport a similar upscale appearance as the first.

It’s all part of BlueStone Commons, a mixed-use development on the 22-acre former Woodland Middle School site. The development includes the BlueStone Lofts housing complex, which opened in August 2013. Lambert plans to build BlueStone Lofts II next year. And Tavern on the Hill, a standalone restaurant under construction, should open by September.