New development planned on Grand Avenue in West Duluth
A new industrial/commercial building campus could be coming soon to West Duluth. Fred Strom, president of Johnson-Wilson Constructors, said he and business partner Ron Johnson began acquiring land for the development about seven years ago. Now op...
A new industrial/commercial building campus could be coming soon to West Duluth.
Fred Strom, president of Johnson-Wilson Constructors, said he and business partner Ron Johnson began acquiring land for the development about seven years ago. Now operating as J&S Partnership LLP, Johnson and Strom have pieced together a 7-acre parcel between 43rd and 46th avenues west off Grand Avenue.
The Duluth City Council voted last week to authorize a grant application for $664,780 from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to help cover infrastructure costs including streets, utilities and storm-water management systems. A local match is required to obtain such a grant, and J&S has pledged to provide that match, leaving no financial exposure for the city.
Heidi Timm-Bijold, manager of business resources for the city of Duluth, said preparing the site for development is expected to cost about $3.2 million to $3.3 million. Final development costs are anticipated to exceed $21 million.
The campus is attractively located, with easy access to Interstate 35, U.S. Highway 2 and the Miller Hill Corridor up 40th Avenue West.
With strong interest from prospective tenants already, Strom said construction could begin yet this year.
Timm-Bijold said much of the site is earmarked for neighborhood commercial development in the city's comprehensive plan, and that would need to change to allow for some of the uses contemplated by J&S. She expects that a small area plan will be conducted as the city looks at the possibility of rezoning the area for mixed-use commercial applications.
"It's a neighborhood in motion," said Timm-Bijold, who also referred to it as an evolving area of town.
Meanwhile, J&S continues efforts to add to its acquisitions in the area.
Although most of the land J&S has assembled is now free of structures, the property has been put to a host of uses over the years, including serving as a right of way for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and the site of the former Radford Lumber Co. Other past tenants of the site have included Duluth Filter Co., a service station, a doughnut shop and a cafe.
J&S has been involved in other projects in the area, including the new Acme Tools store, Oneota Plaza and the Jackson Auto Parts store, all on Grand Avenue; the Gold Cross building at 4505 W. Michigan St.; the North Shore Bank of Commerce in Hermantown, and the Airpark Center Development on Haines Road.
In all, J&S now has about 135,000 square feet of space under lease in Duluth, Strom said.