January 27, 2017

by Brooks Johnson
Duluth News Tribune

Natural light fell on the blue, silver, white and wood inside Duluth's newest apartment complex overlooking Lake Superior on Thursday afternoon, in a scene more commonly seen in cities twice the size.

“My crazy vision seems to be coming true,” said developer Tom Lund with Harbor Bay Real Estate Advisors.

That vision was a $38 million mixed-use development at London Road and 21st Avenue, formerly home to a Burger King and a burned-out commercial building, where more than 40 residents moved in this month paying rents ranging from $1,000 to $4,500 a month.

“It seemed to me intuitive, with the population of young professionals and empty nesters and everyone in between,” Lund said. “The vision for me was: Let's build this community for everybody.”

A crowd gathered to hear from Lund and tour a few unoccupied units Thursday as part of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce's Ignite Your Fuse luncheon series.

Groups of 30 were easily able to fan out inside a two-bedroom flat, bathed in gray light glowing off the polished stone countertops and stainless steel appliances. There was certainly room to spare in the expansive corner penthouse on the second floor, which overlooked both the lake and the common area still under construction on the south side of the magnet-shaped building.

Meanwhile, a combination Caribou Coffee/Einstein Bros. Bagels was seeing traffic on the north side of the building next to a Papa Murphy's take-and-bake pizza joint. With Zen Eye Care on the way, there are still a few commercial spaces looking for inhabitants.

The apartments are about 70 percent leased, according to Endi's management, including at least one of every floor plan.

A recent apartment boom after years of stalled building helps with the city's rental shortage; a new look at housing needs will be undertaken this year.

The mixed-use Kenwood Village at Kenwood Avenue and Arrowhead Road is nearing completion as well, and BlueStone Commons is planning a third building at its development near the University of Minnesota Duluth.

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