Shops at BlueStone secures new tenants, plans for the future

The Duluth News Tribune recently reported on the continued development of Mark Lambert's BlueStone Commons off Woodland Avenue and Clover Street. New details also emerged regarding the Shops at BlueStone.

Pizza Hut | Wing Street will open their doors September 15th (for more openings check our calendar here) in what will be the third phase of the Shops at BlueStone project. The building also will be home to two more retail tenants.

An unnamed dentist will open an office next to Pizza Hut while AT&T Wireless will open their fifth (third in Duluth) Twin Ports location. Both are scheduled to open this fall. With these two additional tenants the building will be 100% leased along with the rest of the Shops at BlueStone buildings. So, on to the next phase we go!

WISHLIST: GROCERY STORE

Developer Mark Lambert told the Duluth News Tribune that he hopes to attract an organic grocery store of some type to the final phase of the BlueStone Commons development called BlueStone Vue. This is where things get interesting.

Originally BlueStone Vue was to become the third and final housing phase of the BlueStone development. It was to include about 14,500 square feet of retail space on the first floor along with residential units on the upper floors. Now plans seem to have shifted to making retail the priority within the building. Lambert mentions that he is looking to attract a "popular upscale market chain not currently in the Northland." He also notes that he is looking for this marketplace to fill 20,000 to 30,000 square feet of space.

WE'VE BEEN THINKING

So, naturally we here at CDINDULUTH have been thinking. What could possibly be a potential candidate for this space? There's two companies that come to our mind right away. The first would most likely be a prayer come true for many Duluthians and that is Trader Joe's.

With Aldi entering the Twin Ports market in November with the opening of their Superior location it marks a milestone for their parent company. As we've mentioned before, Aldi and Trader Joe's are actually part of the same company. Aldi has plans to continue expanding in the Northland and is currently scouting for a location within Duluth.

Now, Aldi could be a fit for the Shops at BlueStone however it doesn't fit the category of being an upscale organic marketplace, plus it wouldn't be new to the Northland. Trader Joe's however fits the description perfectly with one exception.

Interior of a typical Trader Joe's store (Leopardo Construction)

Trader Joe's locations tend to rarely be over 12,000 square feet in size. However this could match up perfectly with Lambert's comments regarding the size of the marketplace and how it could ultimately determine if other retailers could also located within Vue and how much housing could be included within the development.

There's one more player that comes to mind and that particular grocer could be an even more perfect fit for the development.

LET'S THINK BIGGER. LET'S THINK MORE SPECIALIZED. 

There's another organic marketplace that is sweeping the country by storm and that is Whole Foods Market. Don't confuse it with the local organic grocer Whole Foods CO-OP as this is completely different company.

Whole Foods Market currently has five Minnesota locations all of which are in the Twin Cities. They're currently constructing a new replacement for their St. Paul store that will make it the second largest in the state after the Downtown Minneapolis location on Hennepin Avenue.

If you haven't heard of Whole Foods Market we can almost guarantee you that you have seen a chef shopping at one on the Food Network. They're huge in presence on the West and East Coasts and up until about three years ago they had a relatively small presence within Minnesota.

Interior of a Whole Foods Market in Del Mar, California. (DLE Design)

The reason that we are bringing up Whole Foods Market as a potential player for the final phase of the Shops at Bluestone and the BlueStone development all together is that they are basically the perfect contender.

Whole Foods Market is an upscale organic marketplace. Their older stores tend to range as small as the 17,000 square feet mark but more recently are averaging between 35,000 and 45,000 square feet. This would match up more so with the developer Mark Lambert's wishes for a marketplace between 20,000 and 30,000 square feet. Also, we should mention that East Duluth's demographics are essentially a perfect fit and dream come true for Whole Foods Market.

IT'S ALL SPECULATION AT THIS POINT.

Let's just make it clear, we're not here to start rumors but rather we are here to lay the facts on the table. It is all speculation at this point, got it? Has Trader Joe's been looking to expand their Minnesota presence including within Duluth? Yes.

Has Whole Foods Market also been looking to expand their Minnesota presence, even venturing North? Yes. In fact last year they opened their most northern location in Minnesota in Maple Grove's Shoppes at Arbor Lakes (about 35 minutes from Downtown Minneapolis).

At the moment is clear that both retailers could be perfect contenders for the final phase of BlueStone Commons. But, we're also thinking that if Lambert's dreams come true Whole Foods Market might be the forerunner in the race. 

As always, we will keep you up to date right here at CDINDULUTH with all the latest in news regarding this exciting project and the countless others within the Twin Ports!