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Miller Hill apartment complex approaching June opening

t11.16.17 Bob King -- 111717.N.DNT.APTSc -- The District Flats, a 72-unit apartment complex on Miller Hill, is under construction Thursday afternoon. Bob King /

Businesses to city: We need housing for our workers.

City to businesses: We got you.

The District Flats apartment complex near the Miller Hill Mall is well on its way to opening 72 new units of middle-income housing thanks to a private-public partnership spurring on the development. The $14 million project was made possible in part by a $500,000 city and county tax abatement and a $1 million grant from the state.

"We are very excited to get this building finished up, leased up and add to the workforce housing that most importantly will meet the needs of our employers," Melhus Management property manager Ryan Boman said during a press event Tuesday. "As our employers are growing and adding jobs, those are the people who shop in our stores and live in our apartments, and that's critical for Duluth now and for the future."

District Flats is set to open in June, and leasing is about to get underway.

The units are considered "workforce housing" as they should fit the budgets of families or individuals making $30,000 to $50,000 a year. Rents will start at $1,095 a month with most utilities included — and each unit comes with laundry and a 50-inch smart TV.

"(It's) the kind of housing that people can not only afford but want to live in," Duluth Mayor Emily Larson said from the model unit and leasing office on the other side of Buffalo Wild Wings from the half-built complex on Maple Grove Road.

Boman said that private-public partnerships such as this one could go a long way toward further addressing the city's housing needs. The city and many businesses agree housing is sorely lacking at all income levels, which is hampering economic growth.

"When we tried to bring in a lot of our experienced technicians from outside the state it was very difficult to find that market-level housing," said AAR Corp. vice president Mark Ketterer. "This is a great example of what we were looking for then; we still have a huge need for it."

Brooks Johnson

Brooks is an investigative/enterprise reporter and business columnist at the Duluth News Tribune.

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