Development of a 100-unit apartment building in Lincoln Park could begin as soon as this year, an official of the company that owns the property said.
The News Tribune reported in January that the old Kemps dairy plant on the 1900 block of West First Street had been purchased by Northridge Accommodations of Grand Forks, N.D.
No one from Northridge was available to comment at the time, but in a call Tuesday, chief operating officer Ryan Carlson fleshed out the details.
Northridge, which previously developed the Endi project at London Road and 21st Avenue East and built the Tru by Hilton that opened off Central Entrance last year, hopes to begin demolition of the abandoned plant soon, Carlson said. Although Tru by Hilton was built for another company, Northridge plans to manage the Lincoln Park property, he said.
In addition to the 100 market-rate apartments, the development may include first-floor businesses, Carlson said. The Endi development followed that model, with first-floor retail outlets that include a credit union, a pizzeria and a bagel shop and coffeehouse. He estimated development cost at $15 million-$20 million, and said once construction begins that likely would take about 18 months. He’s hopeful construction could begin later this year, Carlson said.
Last month, Jodi Slick, executive director of Lincoln Park-based nonprofit Ecolibrium3, expressed the hope that the development might help alleviate parking challenges in the fast-developing district. But Carlson said the project will be parking-neutral, providing sufficient parking for tenants and consumers.
The planned development is on the back side of a block that has seen much of the development in recent years, including OMC Smokehouse, the Duluth Folk School and Dovetail Cafe and Flora North. But the district has seen little new development in the way of housing, except for the recently opened Garfield Square development at Superior Street and Piedmont Avenue. That provides low-income housing, largely replacing housing in the now nearly empty Esmond Building in the 2000 block of West Superior Street.
Carlson said he and his partners have been watching Duluth’s areas of growth closely during the past four or five years. “We’ve kept a close eye on the Lincoln Park development,” he said.
The Kemps building has been vacant for seven years. Northridge purchased it for $450,000 in December from Franklin Foods of Kansas City, Kansas.