Duluth’s Waterfront Condos May Offer Million-Dollar Views

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Taking inspiration from the waters of Lake Superior, which the four-story building will directly overlook, developer Sandy Hoff has dubbed the development The Breakers.

As proposed, the building would be 55 feet high and would require an exemption, as it exceeds the maximum height of 45 feet allowed under the existing zoning. This exception request will be submitted to the Duluth Planning Commission for review at its next meeting at 5 p.m. on October 12.

“The challenge we face is with the amount of rock and the size of this site. If we were to dig deeper into the rock, our garage access ramp would be too steep to meet the ADA (Americans with Disability Act). ) requirements, ”Hoff said.

Gary Meader / [email protected]

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City staff recommend that the height deviation be approved.

“We tend to look at the two criteria of: the practical difficulty of a project and its reasonableness. And the lot is considerably crowded with a number of things, and they also try to make sure that it is responsive to. Water Street, as well as Lake Superior, so to insert a building there, that seems like a reasonable request, ”said Adam Fulton, deputy director of Duluth’s planning and economic development division.

The proposed building would exceed the height of 45 feet of the neighboring Beacon Pointe development.

Considering the elevation change as you move further away from the lake, Hoff said he suspects the proposed height variation will not cause any difficulty for neighbors.

“The zoning allows 45 feet. So the incremental difference in the amount of incremental field of view that it will occupy in the skyline is nominal,” he said.

Hoff said the proposed condominiums would range in size from 1,750 to 2,900 square feet and that unit prices would likely range between about $ 900,000 and over $ 2 million.


An artist rendering shows a planned idea for the roof of the proposed development called The Breakers.  Contribution / Arola Architecture Studio

An artist rendering shows a planned idea for the roof of the proposed development called The Breakers. Contribution / Arola Architecture Studio

While that price range is out of reach for most residents, Fulton said he’s confident potential investors have conducted enough market research to feel confident that the project will continue.

“We certainly recognize that there is a great demand for housing in Duluth, and that includes housing at all levels, both at the upper and lower ends,” he said.

The roughly $ 18 million project will be fully funded by the private sector without public support, according to Hoff. He hopes to start construction in spring 2022 and complete work by 2023.

Hoff estimates that the finished condos will generate over $ 300,000 in annual property tax revenue. He also said the project would solve pre-existing soil contamination issues at the site.

Hoff said the proposed development will not encroach on a previously established easement for a Lakewalk extension along the waterfront. But he sees little chance that the trail will be installed anytime soon.

“We met the Friends of the Lakewalk group and shared with them the scope of our project,” he said.

An extension of the Lakewalk was planned behind the Beacon Pointe Resort, but the development was built so close to the shore that there was not enough room for full multi-use, and subsequent erosion did not exist. only complicates the situation.

Meanwhile, a bluestone pedestrian walkway has been installed behind a townhouse development called The Ledges east of where The Breakers condominiums are offered. This path was also closed due to shoreline erosion. And there is an intermediate easement gap between the properties owned by Cindy and Paul Hayden, directly east of the proposed Breakers development.


The Breakers, a proposed development for Water Street in Duluth, would be 55 feet tall and would require an exemption.  Contribution / Arola Architecture Studio

The Breakers, a proposed development for Water Street in Duluth, would be 55 feet tall and would require an exemption. Contribution / Arola Architecture Studio

“It’s a trail that isn’t going anywhere right now, and the first discussions with the city are that they don’t know what future plans are for this section of the trail, if any,” Hoff said.

Fulton confirmed, “The easement is in place, should this become a priority for the city at some point. But that’s not something that would be appropriate at this point, given the current circumstances around. “

This story originally pointed to the wrong date for the next Planning Commission meeting. It was updated at 12:05 p.m. on October 7 with the correct date. The News Tribune regrets the error.


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