Developer has new student housing/retail plan for Woodland Middle School site

The DNT ran a story today detailing a new mixed-use residential/commercial plan for the site of the former Woodland Middle School.  The developer bought the site from the school district in September. You may be familiar with the developer’s other projects like Boulder Ridge and Campus Park.

Currently the plan is to reuse the school building itself, and add one-to-three additional buildings. The student-focused housing would have 300 beds in mainly four bedroom units. If demand is high enough this could be increased to 1,000 beds. The retail aspect of the new development would include restaurants. The DNT story named  Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods as some potential additions.  A hotel is also being considered.

Sounds like the new development would open in Fall 2013 or 2014.

The full story can be found here.

What do you think about this plan? Is it a good idea? If not what would you propose? Personally, I think no matter where students go in high concentrations that residences in the same area will take a “not in my backyard” attitude. This development may not solve all the student housing issues, but it will alleviate it to some degree, and create jobs.

On the retail side what would you like to see at the site? A friend of mine would really like to see a Chipotle, Panera, or faster food pasta place. I would love to see more locally owned restaurants go in. Duluth Grill part 2?



about 8 years ago

I think it sounds like a good plan. I understand the "not in my backyard" feelings of homeowners, but with the college right across the street, people would have to expect having students for neighbors, right?
My opinion is influenced by the fact that I live sort of close to the colleges -- sort of close. When I bought the place 13 years ago, I never would have imagined student rentals up and down my street, but things are going in that direction. I think it makes more sense to have students living right across the street from the school.

The Big E

about 8 years ago

Make it all bars.  I can't believe the paucity of neighborhood bars on the east side of this town.


about 8 years ago

I think from an epidemiological standpoint, it may prove to be a moderate disaster; but economically, it may also stimulate some short term jobs, and be a good long term investment for this development company (whom I unfortunately have little economic relation to).  

As far as reducing the amount of students living in east side neighborhoods, this would put a minor dent in the number of rental properties..but maybe a good start (?). Personally, I just keep the channel of neighborly friendliness open, and either share a toddy with my younger neighbors, or ignore them when I don't feel like it...so my perspective is a bit skewed from a family person or those up in the years. 

I do, though, suspect that a lot of the attitude of dismay towards college kids in the hood may be fueled by a fear of change ('kids these days..'); intolerance and misunderstanding; urbanization and its negative effect on group dynamics; and simply enough, a lack of effort in surveying a potentially liveable neighborhood before (more or less) cementing your bottom to it with a mortgage. For example, when I get sick of my fairly loud neighbors (whom I now just chuckle at now), my intentions will definitely be to acquire 60 acres in the woods, where developments won't get me in this lifetime..

++ for use of 'paucity' & 'bars' in the same sentence, E..


about 8 years ago

I will be surprised if it gets developed as envisioned.  First off, hire an architect that uses more than a shoe box for inspiration.  The only design improvements he has made with his Duluth projects are moving from vinyl siding to some block facing and hardi-plank.  The buildings are about as unique and interesting as the military barracks at Camp Ripley [for those who have had the pleasure to serve].  Hopefully he scuttles his design team and brings in somebody who can fit something to that area - something that blends with what the University has done perhaps.  His current projects suggest he has purchased plans and materials at Mendard's.


about 8 years ago

The Big E, we could definitely use a couple of bars over here on the East end. duluth_bishop, totally agree with you about Lambert's lack of design creativity. None of the buildings he's built look all that great.


about 8 years ago

Please dear jeebus give us a bar.


about 8 years ago

Yes a bar.  Not an Applebees, or a Champs, or some other no soul chain garbage, but a bar owned by locals, run by locals for locals.  I predict it would be the busiest bar in the city.


about 8 years ago

Trader Joe's?  That would be quite nice!


about 8 years ago

I'd love to see the retail that's going to be included in this development be locally owned. I believe strongly in buying local. And I am all for a college strip there. I'd rather college students walk to bars and other places to hang out and party, rather than drinking and driving.

Fist Shaker

about 8 years ago

I'll be brief.

@NIMBYs ... Cry me a river! You had a chance years ago to pony up and make your voices heard when it was happening in the neighborhoods next to you. Now, when this plan surfaces as the best option for the city, you start belly aching?!?! WTF? Where were you when Endion was being converted to party house after party house? We've gone through hell and come out the other side with a solution. We've worked hard to reach out to our campus neighbors and develop a strong working relationship with the city, the colleges, the police and the students. It's taken 10 years. So suck it up, learn how to play and take one for the team like the rest of us on the west side of 21st ave have had to do for years. It actually won't be that painful because the rest of us have sacrificed our neighborhoods, home values and countless nights of sleep to gain you higher awareness of town and gown issues. It worked, things have been much better the last couple of years. You're welcome, and enjoy.


about 8 years ago

"west side of 21st Avenue..." 21st Ave. E or 21st Ave. W? Just to be clear.

Fist Shaker

about 8 years ago

@ TimK, I meant 21st E. I dont know many students who (before the 300' rule at least) were living West of 21st W.


about 8 years ago

B-Man, abso-fuckin-lutely. If there was any bar near campus, it would turn into one of the busiest in town. The only options for students are at Fitger's, downtown, in Canal Park, or my personal favorite, the OP. Don't get me wrong, I love the OP, but that is a looong walk back down to my place in Upper Chester.


about 8 years ago

Our neighborhood received notice that the developer is speaking at Woodland Middle School's library on Thursday, 12/15 at 5:30 p.m., to update us on planned development.

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