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New assisted-living facility in works for Duluth Heights

A new $1.5 million assisted-living facility could soon be coming to Duluth. Northern Health Care LLC will turn to the Duluth Economic Development Authority seeking its assistance Wednesday in acquiring the property needed for the development. The...

A new $1.5 million assisted-living facility could soon be coming to Duluth.

Northern Health Care LLC will turn to the Duluth Economic Development Authority seeking its assistance Wednesday in acquiring the property needed for the development.

The Duluth-based holding company wants to build on property that's currently owned by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, but it's not allowed by law to purchase land directly from the state. That's where DEDA comes in. As a governmental agency, it can buy land from the state, and a resolution to be considered tonight would authorize the authority to buy 3.9 acres of property from MnDOT at its appraised value and then turn around and sell the parcel at cost to Northern Health Care LLC.

The appraised value of the land in question is $127,000, according to Chris Eng, DEDA's executive director. The proposed site for the development is on the east side of Trinity Road between Anderson Road and Miller Hill Mall.

If plans move forward, the new development will be called Bee Hivecq two words Homes. It would be a locally owned business that's part of a 150-facility national franchise.

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Joncq Kalkbrenner -- the developer, owner and operator of the proposed Duluth facility -- said initial plans call for the construction of a 16-bed assisted-living residence that could be ready for occupancy by next summer. Plans are also in the works for a second facility of the same size, catering to people who require special care due to memory problems.

Kalkbrenner said he and his wife already own and operate several area Curves fitness centers for women and were looking to diversify.

"I spent about a year researching and determined there was a huge need for something like this," he said.

"From a business perspective I couldn't ignore the situation. With all the Baby Boomers, how will we fulfill the need for care?" Kalkbrenner asked.

Kalkbrenner said he was drawn to the small scale of the Bee Hive Homes model and the opportunity for more personal interaction between residents and staff.

He described the facilities as low-profile, single-level buildings with a homey rather than institutional feel. Each 8,500-square-foot building will feature communal spaces -- including an exercise/activity area, sitting rooms complete with fireplaces and even a spot for summer cookouts -- in addition to private units, according to Kalkbrenner.

"This is a great opportunity to provide needed services and increase the local property tax base, as well," said Eng of the proposed development. He estimated the 16-bed facility will generate between $10,000 and $11,000 in new property taxes each year. And that tax impact will grow if Bee Hive Homes expands, as Kalkbrenner expects it will.

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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