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Duluth developer aims to draw big box retailer

Developer Joe Kleiman has acquired about two acres of land at the northwest corner of Arlington Avenue and Central Entrance in Duluth. He described big plans for the property -- most likely involving a big-box retail development -- but said firm ...

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Developer Joe Kleiman has bought several properties at the corner of Arlington and Central Entrance, including the UPS Store, Pizza Hut, and the old Sammy's Pizza/BP gas station. He hopes to bring a big box retailer to the busy corner. Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com

Developer Joe Kleiman has acquired about two acres of land at the northwest corner of Arlington Avenue and Central Entrance in Duluth.

He described big plans for the property - most likely involving a big-box retail development - but said firm plans for the site probably won't emerge for at least another year.

Still, the busy corner location has drawn strong initial interest, Kleiman said.

"I've got four or five players who want to go there right now," he said.

However, Kleiman declined to name names or discuss details of any prospective development on the site, explaining that such talk would be premature while efforts continue to find the best fit.

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"I don't have the answers yet. I think it probably can be talked about in 2016, But today, it's just all about rumors, speculation or BS - take your pick," he said.

The site currently is home to a Pizza Hut, a UPS store and a laundromat as well as a private residence at 213 Arlington Ave. A BP gas station that shared quarters with a Sammy's Pizza shop already has been shuttered; the pumps and tanks have been removed in anticipation of pending redevelopment.

The property currently is zoned mixed use-commercial, which could accommodate large-scale retail development.

As part of reviewing any proposed redevelopment at the busy corner, City Planner Jenn Reed Moses said a number of considerations will need to be studied.

"We would look at the number of access points, how much traffic is being generated from the project at what time of day, how's it going to interact with the other peak-hour traffic at that intersection and making sure that there aren't safety conflicts," she said.

Keith Hamre, director of planning and construction services for the city of Duluth, said parking will probably be the limiting factor for how large of a big box can be built on the site and may require some "creative thinking." But he noted that the corner is on a bus line, potentially easing parking demands a bit.

Related Topics: DULUTH HEIGHTS
Peter Passi covers city government for the Duluth News Tribune. He joined the paper in April 2000, initially as a business reporter but has worked a number of beats through the years.
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