A new mini-mall near Miller Hill Mall. A hotel on Park Point accessible by boat. A neighborhood mixed-use project near the University of Minnesota Duluth.
They're among several eagerly anticipated projects taking shape in Duluth. Here's more about them and an update on each.
Park Point Marina Inn
Opening: June 2014
Construction of this 68-room, three-story hotel is well along on the harbor side of Park Point within walking distance of the Aerial Lift Bridge and Canal Park.
The hotel, scheduled to open in June, will tap into marina traffic by offering dock space for lodgers traveling by boat.
The shell of the structure is nearly complete, utilities have been run to the building, and installation of windows has begun. Interior work will follow.
Reservations will start being accepted in December with rates comparable to Canal Park hotels, said General Manager David Riddle.
The 37,000-square-foot structure at 1033 Minnesota Ave. sits on five acres at Harbor Cove Marina, within 50 feet of docks where guests will be able to arrive by boat. The marina will continue to operate at the site.
The design by BDP Architects of Duluth was inspired by the Duluth Boat Club that stood majestically on Park Point in the early 1900s and was the social center of Duluth. The hotel is designed to fit into the area and to have a nostalgic feel to it with 48-foot towers and other features reminiscent of the old clubhouse.
Reclaimed materials, including salvaged timbers and logs, are being used in the design as well as green products and energy-efficient technologies.
The hotel will offer rooms with private patio decks, an indoor recreation center with a pool, business center, meeting rooms, lounge and shuttle service to Canal Park and Amsoil Arena.
Owners Terry Anderson and Bob Maki spent several years planning the estimated $5 million project before construction began this year by BBI Construction in Duluth. Western Bank has financed the project.
The development fits in with the city's plan to switch the area from its past industrial focus to a mixed use-waterfront one that includes lodging, retail and recreation.
Joel Johnson, the owner of Lakehead Boat Basin next door, had planned to build a larger $22 million hotel on his site that also would attract travelers by boat. But his plan for a 90-room, nine-story hotel met with resistance from Park Point residents and others. During delays in lining up the needed financing, Johnson's special use permit to build the hotel expired on June 1. He now faces a newly enacted height restriction if he proceeds with the project.
Opening: Early 2014
Many are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Panera Bread to Duluth in early 2014.
The fast casual dining chain's first venture in northern Minnesota will be at the Hansen Center, a mini-mall being built on the former Ground Round site just west of Miller Hill Mall.
Construction, along Maple Grove Road near Miller Trunk Highway, began in May and should be completed this winter with the mini-mall's four retailers opening in early 2014.
The development by Florida-based owner General Realty will return retail to the vacated site. The mini-mall's three buildings will form an L-shape on the 1.6-acre site, with parking in the center.
Panera Bread will alone occupy the largest building, in the middle. It will have a bakery-cafe and drive-through. It also will have a production area where its dough will be made from scratch and its breads, bagels, muffins and other baked goods will be baked. Panera restaurants serve sandwiches, hot panini, salads and soups. The company, based in St. Louis, is already seeking applicants for the restaurant's management team in Duluth.
Another building will house a Vitamin Shoppe, which will be new to Duluth, and a Sleep Number store which will move from its current location at Miller Hill Mall. The third building will be the new corporate store for Verizon Wireless in Duluth. It currently has a kiosk at the mall, which it will keep after the new store opens.
The general contractor -- Fendler Patterson Construction of Savage, Minn. -- is building all three buildings at the same time. The shells and exteriors of the buildings will be completed one at a time, from early November to early December. Except for the Vitamin Shoppe, the retailers will do interior finishing and décor themselves, which generally takes one to two months, said Dave Wosika, the job superintendent.
Weather permitting, Fendler Patterson also plans to have the asphalt, driveways, curbs and gutters, and landscaping in by Nov. 2, he said.
The design features a modern look with floor-to-ceiling glass fronts and sections rising two stories high.
For Panera Bread, which has more than 1,700 locations in the U.S. and Canada, opening a restaurant in Duluth is part of its expansion in the Midwest. This month it opened restaurants in Fargo and Grand Forks, N.D. Next year, it also plans to open stores in Minot and Bismarck, N.D.
Chester Creek Gardens
Opening: Summer 2014
Back in April, city planners couldn't say enough good things about this mixed-use neighborhood development that combines housing with retail and offices.
That's because the two- to three-story building rising on the northwest corner of Eighth Street and 19th Avenue East fits in perfectly with the city's goal of creating small neighborhood business and residential hubs that blend in well.
The $2.4 million project in Duluth's Chester Park neighborhood is headed by Carla Blumberg and Barbara Neubert, the owners of At Sara's Table/Chester Creek Café which is kitty-corner from the development. It's also across the street from Vintage Italian Pizza.
Construction began in June and is expected to be completed in early summer when it's also expected to open. Park State Bank in Duluth provided the project's financing.
The 11,000-square-foot structure is three stories tall facing Eighth Street, but appears to be two stories in the rear where the property slopes up. A greenhouse and garden plots are in place on the eastern side of the four-lot property. Vegetables grown in the gardens beginning next year will be used at Chester Creek Café, and area residents will be able to stroll through the gardens.
The building, designed by Scalzo Architects of Duluth, will have three storefronts facing Eighth Street, three offices on the second floor and seven apartments on the second and third floors with a communal deck on the roof. The exterior façade will be mostly brick.
So far, no leases have been signed, but applications have started going out, Blumberg said.
She said the apartments, which range in size from studios to two-bedroom apartments, will lease for $800 to $2,000 a month. They'll be more high-end than the upscale student-oriented apartments that just opened at nearby Bluestone Lofts.
"The apartments are going to be nice," Blumberg said. "And the view from the top floor will be pretty nice."
As an accomplished cook, Blumberg has designed four apartments for people who know how to cook that will include professional-grade appliances.
So far, the structure's framing by general contractor Donald Holm Construction of Duluth is up and work is under way to enclose the building before winter, when interior work will be done. Sustainable building practices are being used and energy efficient features incorporated.
Before construction could begin, however, oil, gas and diesel contamination on the site had to be removed. The contamination stemmed back to years when a gas station operated on the site. That cleanup was helped by a state cleanup grant that covered up to 75 percent of the cost.