Duluth high-rise apartment plans may be placed on hold

The city's Economic Development Authority will be asked to amend a development agreement for the $70.4 million project, pushing the timeline back a year.

Duluth high-rise apartment building.jpg
A rendering of the proposed 15-story apartment building at 333 E. Superior St., which would replace the Voyageur Lakewalk Inn. Developers hope to attract a grocery store to the ground level of the 204-unit complex. Courtesy Landmark Development
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For the third time, the Duluth Economic Development Authority will be asked to amend a development agreement for a proposed 15-story apartment building at 333 E. Superior St.

Initially, construction of the $70.4 million high-rise was to begin by no later than Dec. 31, 2019, but the schedule for the project has continued to slide. The deadline had previously been extended to April 30, and on Wednesday, DEDA will take up a resolution that would allow for an additional year of delay, with construction now slated to commence no later than April 30, 2021.

The resolution heading to DEDA cites "current uncertain market conditions" in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and said the additional time will provide the developer, Northstar Development Interests LLC, time "to finalize tax-increment financing note financing."

The sale of that note is expected to close in May, and the project could well be under construction by fall, said Chris Fleege, director of Duluth's planning and economic development division.

DEDA approved $6.2 million in tax-increment financing, or TIF, for the project in December. The aid is a subsidy that captures new property taxes generated by a project and uses those revenues to cover certain development costs.


The project also is expected to benefit from its location in a designated Opportunity Zone — a federal program that seeks to foster development in economically disadvantaged areas by allowing investors to defer capital gains when they follow certain guidelines.

The proposed new building is to be constructed on the corner of East Superior Street and Fourth Avenue East, where the Voyageur Lakewalk Inn, the former Hacienda Del Sol restaurant and the former First Oriental Grocery store buildings now stand.

The project is being spearheaded by Rob Robinson of Madison-based Landmark Co. in collaboration with Brian Forcier, managing partner of Duluth-based Titanium Partners LLC.

The DEDA resolution says the new deadline should be "concurrent with the closing on the developer's construction financing." It notes that: "The developer has closed on the acquisition of the property and is motivated to commence construction as soon as possible."

Plans call for a 204-unit apartment building with retail — possibly a small grocery store — on the ground floor.

This story was updated at 6:26 p.m. (April 20) with additional information from Chris Fleege. It was originally posted at 1:18 p.m. (April 20)

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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