Plans change for former Burger King site on London Road

Remember how we posted a few months ago that Burger King and Caribou Coffee were coming to London Road? Well, plans have changed to the tune of $36 million dollars. We're talking big changes.

The site that has sat basically dormant for the last two years after Burger King closed up shop in order to rebuild their location now has new life coming to it. What originally was suppose to be included in the redevelopment of the site was just two small 2,500+ square foot retail buildings that were to house a free standing Burger King and a free standing Caribou Coffee. Those plans are no more.

News broke yesterday that Harbor Bay Real Estate Advisors are planning a 148 unit six story apartment project for the site. Yes Duluth, this could be the first sign of the area beginning to see a smaller apartment housing boom like that of the Twin Cities market in the last five years. If so, prepare yourself.

Above: Rendering of the proposed developed for the 2100 block of London Road. (Image courtesy of Harbor Bay Real Estate Advisors)

Above: Rendering of the proposed developed for the 2100 block of London Road. (Image courtesy of Harbor Bay Real Estate Advisors)

The project will be developed on the 2100 block of London Road (that's right across from McDonalds and will include in addition to the 148 apartment units also 13,000 square feet of retail. The retail space could house up to five tenants while the developers are aiming to have all the retail tenants be an amenity for the residents above. It seems logical that Caribou Coffee would be one of the first tenants for the space as they were in negotiations for a space within the former redevelopment plan for the site. Also, who would object to a coffee shop beneath their apartment? We see that as an amenity. As far as Burger King goes... we have some doubts that they will make it back onto this site specifically.

Apartment units in the building will range from 500 square feet for studios up to 1,500 square feet for two bedroom units. While the developers say it's too early to predict rent amounts you can expect a studio to go for the upper $900's, one bedrooms in the low $1,200's to upper $1,800's and the two bedrooms most likely being in the mid $1,500's to early $2,000's per month.

While the Duluth market isn't exactly the same as the Minneapolis/St. Paul market the developers behind this project have had experience in the past with similar projects. They can see a demand in the Twin Ports for quality housing for young professionals and are eager to be one of the first to the playing field.

Above: Aerial identifying the project site on the 2100 block of London Road

Above: Aerial identifying the project site on the 2100 block of London Road

It's most likely that this development will follow the design of similar projects in the Twin Cities exact details still have yet to be given. Similar projects are typically constructed with a base level of concrete and the upper floors being of wooden materials.

While the building is actually six stories it won't appear that way from the London Road. In fact, you'll only see two levels from the roadway due to the fact that most of the building will be sunken into the hillside. From the freeway however you will see six full stories of apartment units in a horseshoe design surrounding a center courtyard. The exterior design will feature modern design elements with a wide usage of brick and metal accents. 

One thing that will truly make this project one of a kind are the views. No longer will you need to own a condo on the lake or a house on the hillside to have those majestic views of Lake Superior. This project will feature absolutely breathtaking sights from the comforts of your living room couch for the active young professional crowd or the well seasoned adults who are looking to enjoy the shores of the lake during summer and winter.

Occupancy is expected for early summer 2016.

We'll have more details here at CDINDULUTH as they become available.

Our View

This really is HUGE news for the city of Duluth as it marks a new type of development that is hitting the northland. We have yet to see mixed-use luxury apartment projects being developed similar to those found in larger metropolitan markets.

If you haven't been following development in Minneapolis you most likely don't know that the city is one of the most development rich cities in the nation right now. Basically 90% of the projects being constructed right now are residential and are six story projects similar to this one.

While some will object to this we think it is quite a positive for the city as it starts ushering in density to our already urban areas. From the day this site was pegged for redevelopment it had always been a wish to include housing of some sort and for the development that occurred on site to be of a far greater density than what was on it formerly. This development will do just that and from the rendering it appear that it will do it in a very well approached manner.

We're excited to hear more about this project over the coming months.