An industrial property that has stood empty for seven years could become the next part of Lincoln Park’s renaissance.
Northridge Accommodations, a Grand Forks, N.D. developer, purchased the old Kemps dairy plant in the 1900 block of West First Street on Dec. 19, according to Minnesota Department of Revenue records. The seller was listed as Franklin Foods of Kansas City, Kansas, and the purchase price was listed as $450,000.
Northridge did not immediately respond to queries from the News Tribune. But according to the website Perfect Duluth Day, which first reported the news on Tuesday, the company’s CEO said they plan to clear the site, remove contaminated soils and build a $15 million to $25 million hotel or apartment project.
At least one attempt to redevelop the site was attempted in the past. In 2016, the Duluth City Council approved funding for an environmental investigation of the facility. It was being considered as the site for a possible distillery for the Duluth Whiskey Project.
Jodi Slick, executive director of the Lincoln Park-based nonprofit Ecolibrium3, said that was one of several developers that had been “sniffing around” the property over the past few years.
In her discussions with Northridge CEO Jon Miskavige, he talked of the potential for a mixed-use development and/or a hotel, Slick said.
Lincoln Park has been an “emerging district” over the past five years, focusing first on filling empty storefronts, Slick said. Now, mid-sized properties are being redeveloped, such as the former furniture stores, the recently vacated Esmond building and the Kemps property.
A mixed-use development on that property including expansion of parking for the district would be an “epic success,” Slick said. That doesn’t mean that’s what the developer will have in mind, she added.
The site is located a block up from the heart of what has become known as the Lincoln Park Craft District. The Duluth Folk School and Dovetail Cafe, OMC Smokehouse, Corktown Deli, Love Creamery, Flora North, Duluth Pottery and Frost River are among establishments on the 1900 block of West Superior Street.
To date, Northridge hasn’t sought permits from the city to redevelop the site, city spokeswoman Kate Van Daele said.
“We’re excited about the continued interest in Lincoln Park,” she said.