First Look at City View Flats

First Look at CityView Flats Apartments

A look at how the apartments in downtown Duluth are coming along

April 26, 2019  Ryan Compeau Cityview Flats 00:0000:52

DULUTH, Minn.- Today, we got a first look at how the CityView Flats apartments are coming along in downtown Duluth.

While the expected date to open still is October of 2019 for the building consisting of more than one hundred units, the builders have experience some set backs due to multiple issues including the weather.

Marshall Jackson, Managing Member CityView Flats, said that “I’m really pleased with all of the different contractors we’ve had here on the project. Obviously safety comes first when you have weather related setbacks that takes priority. They are trying right now to get caught up, back on schedule and we are still hopeful to finish in the fall of 2019”.

Rent for a studio will start around $1,100. One bedroom at $1,300, and a two bedroom unit at $1,800 a month. The CityView Flats apartment will be located at 333 North First Avenue West.

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Groundbreaking of City View Flats

Groundbreaking Ceremony September 6, 2018


CityView Flats Groundbreaking Ceremony

Local View: Drive the economy with strong private sector

For more than 15 years, APEX has been the business-development engine for the private sector in Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin. APEX investor-members represent many industries and comprise some of the largest and most influential organizations in the region. They work together to strengthen our economy through a shared, vested interest in the attraction, expansion, and retention of business.

We have such great potential here, and if we all work together we can realize that potential. Our success relies heavily on building a next-generation workforce, ensuring that housing exists to meet market needs, and supporting job growth in a thriving private sector. When we collaborate to solve issues like these, we win.

First, we need to renew our focus on education, training, and a strong workforce. APEX and several partners, including the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB), regional workforce centers, foundations, and Minnesota Power have joined together to assess the region's workforce skills, better understand the needs of business, and formulate solutions to help develop skill sets and encourage a fully engaged regional labor force. Initiatives like these are prime examples of the public and private sectors working together to solve problems common to all of us.

Second, we need a variety of housing. Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, drove this point home during his keynote address at the Regional Economic Indicators Forum in Duluth in April. The availability of housing for the next-generation workforce is a key asset in attracting talent to a community. Projects like CityView Flats are a great start. We applaud MBJ Development, the city of Duluth, and the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency for their efforts to develop workforce housing. Variety is essential, including affordable, market-rate, and multi-family options. If the workforce can't find affordable options to live here, they'll have to find work outside the region.

Third, we need private-sector job growth to thrive. Jobs and income lead to taxable revenue for our state, which in turn strengthens our economy. APEX actively pursues growth in the aviation, technology, manufacturing and fabrication, mining, and forest-products industries, as their jobs provide some of the highest wages, best benefits, and greatest overall impact to the regional economy. We work closely with partners such as the Development Association in Superior, Itasca Economic Development Corporation, Great River Energy, Minnesota Power, growth-oriented cities, and state leaders to develop the compelling business case for investment and growth.

Make no mistake; challenges exist. But new opportunities also arise frequently. We're seeing an influx of businesses looking to start or expand here. They're attracted to the area by our educated workforce, vast natural resources, and quality of place.

At APEX, our mission is to leverage private-sector resources to drive investment throughout this great region. We find success by bringing these resources together in a research-driven, strategic manner, positioning the business and the regional communities for long-term success.

When job creators and public-sector leaders collaborate, we all succeed. Regardless of industry, we all share similar goals for sustainable growth and shared prosperity.

Let's set aside issues that may divide us and instead focus on providing family-supporting jobs that sustain our communities, our economy, our environment, and our way of life.

Brian W. Hanson is president and CEO of APEX (, a private force in Duluth for economic development.

Duluth's Essentia Health plans state's biggest medical expansion project

Essentia's record expansion will include a massive new medical center.

                      Star Tribune    May 25, 2018

An $800 million project  announced Thursday would replace Duluth’s biggest hospital while also  making renovations to related facilities across its downtown campus over  the next four years.

Duluth-based  Essentia Health said it will build a new St. Mary’s Medical Center plus  a clinic building and an outpatient surgery center as part of a plan  called “Vision Northland,” which hospital officials say is the largest  private development in Duluth’s history.

The health  system plans to spend $675 million on new facilities that span 800,000  square feet, plus $125 million for renovation of existing buildings,  site preparation and financing costs.

“Our  facilities that we’re currently using were built many years ago,” Dr.  David Herman, the chief executive at Essentia Health, said in an  interview. “We’re making our facilities work right now. But as we look  forward ... our facilities likely will not be able to support the future  practice of medicine much longer.”

The  development is the largest in a string of hospital projects in Minnesota  announced over the past year or so, including $217 million for  improvements at Mayo Clinic’s St. Marys hospital campus in Rochester.

Between  2007 and 2016, the biggest health care capital expenditure reported to  the Minnesota Department of Health was $281.8 million for facility  construction and remodeling at Children’s Minnesota, the state’s largest  pediatric hospital. Mayo Clinic in 2001 added more than 1.5 million  square feet of space at a cost of nearly $500 million.

In  December, Essentia Health first announced a strategic planning effort  that included transforming the health system’s campus in Duluth. Details  were made public this spring as state and local officials tried, but  failed, at the Legislature to connect the hospital project to a broader  economic development initiative like the state’s Destination Medical  Center effort in Rochester.

Thursday’s  announcement signified that the health system’s board of directors has  signed off on the $800 million investment, according to a spokeswoman.

Essentia  Health runs 15 hospitals and 75 clinics across Idaho, Minnesota, North  Dakota and Wisconsin. With about 15,000 employees, Essentia in 2017  posted $151.4 million in net income on about $2 billion in revenue.

The health  system said it is still finalizing schematic designs and a master  construction plan. Project completion is expected in 2022. It would  reduce Essentia Health’s overall footprint in the eastern portion of  downtown Duluth in hopes of spurring new development.

Herman,  the chief executive, said Essentia in Duluth was built over many years  through a series of mergers that brought together St. Mary’s, the Duluth  Clinic and Miller-Dwan Medical Center. Those three facilities and  related buildings create a campus that currently spans about six bocks,  Herman said.

The  replacement hospital for St. Mary’s would be built within Essentia’s  existing campus footprint, but two blocks closer to Lake Superior. The  health system on Thursday released a rendering that suggests the new  facility would offer sweeping views of the lake, although officials  cautioned against taking the picture too literally since details might  change.

The price  tag for the new hospital is big, but Essentia Health officials believe  it’s more effective to build a new facility than to keep renovating the  existing hospital, portions of which date to the 1920s.

Modern  hospitals have bigger operating rooms that can better house equipment  and cooling systems that can handle the heat given off by the many  computer systems that now run in ORs, Herman said. Currently, many of  the hospital rooms at St. Mary’s are double occupancy, whereas the new  facility would offer more private rooms for patients.

“When you  look at the requirements for equipment and keeping people close  together, there was no real way to be able to do that in the old medical  center,” Herman said. “As a matter of fact, as we redesigned new  operating rooms we had to decommission the floor right above them to  make the operating rooms taller in order to accommodate the equipment  and the lighting that’s required for the modern operating room.”

With a new  building, Essentia Health plans on incorporating not just the latest in  health care technology, but also consumer technology like the “smart  speaker” called Alexa from online retail giant Inc.

“All of  our hospitalized patients can choose the meal that they want,” Herman  said. “Does that require somebody being at the other end of the phone,  or can you just use a technology like Alexa to be able to order your  meal?”

Duluth City Council Seeks Grant for new 96-unit apartment building


Duluth City Council could seek grant for new 96-unit apartment building

By Peter Passi on Jan 17, 2018 at 7:45 p.m. 

A new 96-unit apartment building soon could be on the horizon for Duluth's Central Hillside neighborhood.

But the would-be developer of the proposed $20 million CityView Flats project, MBJ Development Corp., is seeking a financial leg up from the city. On Monday, the Duluth City Council will consider a resolution that would authorize city staff to apply for an $800,000 Workforce Housing Grant from the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency. The same resolution also would offer conditional approval of a plan for the city to abate $300,000 in taxes, to be matched with another $300,000 from St. Louis County. The full, combined $600,000 value of the tax abatement packages should be achieved in about 10 years, and after that time, all future property taxes would be collected in full. The proposed 3- to 4-story apartment building at 333 N. First Ave. W., would offer underground parking, according to Heather Rand, Duluth's business development director.

"This developer has wanted to move forward with a project like this for quite awhile. He believes there's a strong market for workforce housing here," Rand said. If the grant request proves successful, Rand said construction of the new building could begin this spring.

But Rand pointed out that Duluth likely will face stiff competition, as just $4 million will be made available for workforce housing grants statewide, and the requested grant for CityView Flats would represent 20 percent of that sum.

"We think multiple cities will submit this year, because there's such a need for this type of housing and all types of housing throughout the state," she said.

Nevertheless, Rand believes Duluth can make a strong case for the CityView Flats project. She noted that the vacancy rate for rental housing in Duluth has been sitting at 3 percent for two years running. Rand said a number of local employers are expected to write letters in support of the project, which could provide needed housing for workers in Duluth.

If built, nine of the building's 96 market-rate units are expected to be smaller rent-restricted apartment

Hillside apartment complex on the rise

  By Brady Slater on Feb 15, 2019 at 5:56 p.m. 

The appearance of construction cranes in Duluth always draws attention.

A pair of cranes operating in the Central Hillside neighborhood of Duluth are there to assist with the construction of the $18-million, 105-unit CityView Flats, which are scheduled to open Sept. 1.

"We brought in a second crane to help speed up the process," said Nate Huber, vice president of MBJ Development Corp. of Minneapolis. "With all the weather and snow, it's been a little rough."

CityView Flats is being built into the hillside across from the Steve O'Neil Apartments on West Fourth Street. The four-story apartment complex (333 N. First Ave. W.) will feature studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments — most at market rate. Ten units have been set aside as rent restricted.

For business observers, the project will bring a much-needed infusion of housing to the neighborhood.

"We have a lot of low to moderate housing in the downtown area," said Brian Hanson, CEO of business development group APEX. "Having a mix would include more market rate and that would be good for the downtown area. We have needs across all categories — all categories are vital in our community."

A 2017 study found the city needed about 2,000 more rental units across all income levels.

For the CityView Flats developers, the desire was to bring "luxury apartments" to within walking distance of Canal Park and the downtown.

To live up to the billing, CityView Flats will include lower-level indoor, heated parking, a fitness center and sauna, high-end appliances, and the finishing flourish — an all-season rooftop party room, hot tub and deck. Lined with glass railings, the deck will feature grilling stations and a bonfire pit with seating.

"It's going to be a great space with a great view of Lake Superior and downtown Duluth," Huber said. "We thought we would bring a building that had high-end amenities. We wanted it to be a good fit for professionals — with the hospital expansion in mind."

MBJ has experience in the Northland already, operating Cascade Springs apartment complex in downtown Duluth and Woodgate Apartments in Cloquet.

Neither of those affordable-housing complexes features rents approaching what the costs will be at CityView Flats, where a one-bedroom will go for $1,355 per month or a rent-controlled $940 per month.

So far, construction, which began in September, has included the precast concrete parking garage being put in and a build out of the first-floor offices and communal spaces.

Johnson Wilson Constructors is in the process of doing the floor-by-floor wood framing.

The development of CityView Flats was aided by a $180,000 grant from the Minnesota Finance Housing Agency. Also, both St. Louis County and the city of Duluth agreed to tax abatement totaling $800,000 in order to help facilitate the development. Once it's back on the tax rolls, it's expected to generate $195,000 annually in property taxes.

When making the case for abatement, the city administration noted the city's shortage of workforce housing.

"I can see the cranes from my window," Hanson said. "Projects that can support our medical industry and thriving downtown are important."