Variance for London Road cooperative approved
A new senior cooperative housing development dubbed Zvago Superior Shore soon could be coming to Duluth. The Duluth Planning Commission recently approved a shoreland variance that opens the way for a proposed four-story 51-unit housing developmen...
A new senior cooperative housing development dubbed Zvago Superior Shore soon could be coming to Duluth.
The Duluth Planning Commission recently approved a shoreland variance that opens the way for a proposed four-story 51-unit housing development overlooking Lake Superior. A single-family home located at 3900 London Road would be removed to make room for the development, which would cater to independent residents age 60 and up.
The proposed building would be located just west of the Ecumen senior campus. The project was brought forward by OneTwoOne Development, a cooperative housing development company formed through a partnership between Ecumen and Lifestyle Communities. The development is expected to cost between $15 million and $20 million.
Construction could begin yet this year, if the local market receives the project enthusiastically. Before Zvago can proceed, a minimum of 60 percent of the units in the building will need to be pre-sold, said Dena Meyer, Ecumen's vice president of sales, marketing and client relations.
Early indications show encouraging demand for the type of housing Zvago will provide, Meyer noted.
Two other cooperative senior housing developments already operating locally - Gramercy Park and Realife - have enjoyed full occupancy, said Keith Hamre, director of planning and construction services for the city of Duluth.
"Those have been very popular models within our market," Hamre said. "We've heard from people that they want to see more senior housing options and more options for people who want to downsize. It's definitely something we need."
Meyer suggested Zvago will prove an attractive addition to the local market, particularly given its lakeside location and its close proximity to the Ecumen campus.
"We will have a full continuum of care available for our cooperative owners, so they really can age in place. That's pretty unique in that marketplace, and it gives people options they might not otherwise have, where they might have to move again someday," she said.
The Ecumen campus in Duluth, formerly known as the Lakeshore Lutheran Home, contains 100 independent-living apartment units, 60 assisted-living units and a 60-room rehabilitation center. It also offers in-home services.
Ecumen is a nonprofit affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and is based in Shoreview, Minn. It has operations in more than 30 communities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Michigan, Idaho, Ohio, Indiana and Tennessee. In 2016, it reported $163.5 million in revenues.
Zvago is a relatively new manifestation of Ecumen, and the Duluth development is expected to be the fourth property operating under that name in the state. One already is up and running in Minnetonka, another is under construction in St. Paul's St. Anthony Park neighborhood, and work is expected to begin at a third site in Apple Valley soon.
Zvago residents own a share of the development and enjoy some of the same tax benefits as conventional homeowners. They buy into the development and also pay monthly member fees, to maintain the property and purchase optional services. Meyer said early estimates indicate units in Duluth will start at about $95,000, and lake-facing two-bedroom units with dens will probably start at around $195,000.
Residents of the development also will have access to large common spaces designed to foster a sense of community.
Hamre said empty-nest homeowners might be drawn to the new development, freeing up single-family homes for younger families.
"It will have ripple effects," he said.
The project will add to traffic on London Road, Hamre confirmed.
"There are concerns, no doubt. But they are manageable concerns. So MnDOT is looking at the London Road corridor and considering different options for traffic management," he said.
Planning commission members also raised concerns about stormwater management on a site that includes a creek and steep ravine. But Tom DesMarais of Northland Consulting Engineers offered assurances that runoff will be captured and treated before it enters Lake Superior.