A small closet door opened up to a bright yellow staircase leading up to the rooftop of BlueStone Lofts. Climbing the concealed exit, Mark Lambert was greeted by soaring heights. “How’s this for a view?” Lambert said.
UMD in its entirety is visible, with all attention given to Malosky Stadium, a truly magnificent view.
Making his way around the rooftop, Lambert pointed out the newly built grand entrance connecting the apartments to UMD’s campus.
He revealed PDFs of what the land below used to look like before construction crews started working on the property just over a year ago. After purchasing seven houses and the Woodland Middle School property, Lambert had to approach the city of Duluth for approval.
“The city said, ‘Mark, we like your concept, here’s what we’re thinking: we’ll let you build your lofts and then how about we do some retail all along Woodland Avenue?’” Lambert said. “As we began working on that, our good friends at UMD also began to work on their grand entrance.”
Lambert happened to be in the right place at the right time and decided to join forces.
“Both of us recognized the opportunity to work together to accomplish something great,” Lambert said. “UMD was able to create the trail into BlueStone and, obviously, we met them with our roundabout and central entrance.”
While the grand entrance is close to completing the collaborative vision, new developments are just beginning to take shape.
The entire development has been approved for 250 units (BlueStone Lofts accounts for 99) and 40,000 feet of retail on a total of 26 acres.
“There’s going to be a Starbucks, a Chilly Billy’s (frozen yogurt), a Big Burrito—similar to Chipotle—and a couple other places,” said Peggy Walsh, property manager at BlueStone Lofts.
Lambert added to this list, saying there would be a financial institution, a hair salon and a personal service salon (hair waxing). There will also be a regional chain restaurant, unidentified for suspense.
“You’ll recognize it when you see it,” Lambert said.
But it doesn’t stop there. Lambert said they will continue expanding the development by tearing down six houses on Woodland Avenue across from UMD’s Chester Park.
Lambert is also working on two different proposals for the Woodland school, rather than just tearing it down.
“A larger retail store, you often hear Trader Joe’s, and that would be ideal for us,” Lambert said. “The other alternatives we’ve got are another hundred units, or we’re also talking with the university about the possibility of leasing for classrooms.
Overall, Lambert said BlueStone is a three- to five-year development.
“Every single month now it’s just going to get better,” Lambert said. “Each year you’re going to see another ‘wow’—it’s almost like BlueStone has some fireworks.”
“Time and again we’ve heard this reference to kind of a new Dinkytown, and I finally realized that we’re really not building a Dinkytown,” Lambert said. “We’re building a BlueStone.”
BY KIM HYATT firstname.lastname@example.org