DULUTH, MN– We’re learning more Friday night about Essentia’s $800 million expansion and redevelopment plan in downtown Duluth. Including ways, it could potentially impact traffic, wildlife and those living nearby.
City officials said an environmental assessment is mandatory because they’re building more than 400,000square feet of new medical space. This assessment primarily looks at traffic, transit, parking, and visual aesthetics among other things.
Something we’re learning as part of the assessment process is the big new building will be equipped with fritted glass. Fritted glass would limit the reflectivity of the glass, which will result in fewer bird-glass collisions.
Also, the location of the proposed rooftop heliport was evaluated for noise impacts.
The new helipad will be at a higher elevation than the existing one, lessening noise impacts.
As far as traffic, the hospital bed count will not increase, so the proposed project is not anticipated to add significant amounts of traffic to the roads.
All of this is something that will be part of the pitch to lawmakers this session.
“It’s illustrating to those decision-makers who are not from our immediate area why it’s so important not only to Duluth but to the entire region–we’re a regional medical center– and why they in St. Cloud or Rochester or in Mankato benefit by having a vibrant medical campus here in this region. And I think if Duluth is successful, our success is our state’s success,” said David Ross, Duluth Area of Commerce president.
In a statement Friday, Essentia said:
“We appreciate the City of Duluth’s work on the comprehensive Environmental Assessment Worksheet. Considering the potential cumulative environmental impact of any project is an important part of planning to mitigate potential impacts during and following construction. “
The public will be able to submit comments about the environmental assessment from now until March 13th. The City Planning Commission will then share their findings and make a determination on if an environmental impact statement is required, that meeting will be on March 26th.