St. Luke’s Clinic in Hermantown going up in High-Profile Location

St. Luke’s Clinic in Hermantown going up in High-Profile Location

It’s Hermantown, so perhaps it’s not surprising a hockey analogy was used in describing construction of a new medical clinic.

“Congratulations for having the vision to see where the puck is going,” said Karen Pionk, executive director of the Hermantown Chamber of Commerce, during a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday for the St. Luke’s Miller Creek Medical Clinic.

The Duluth hospital already has a Miller Creek Medical Clinic, on Miller Trunk Highway next to Skyline Lanes bowling alley. It opened in 1996.

But the replacement clinic will be bigger — about 20,000 square feet versus about 14,000 square feet. It will be able to offer procedures and specialists not available at the current clinic, said John Strange, St. Luke’s CEO.

It will add five jobs to the 20 at the present clinic, he added, and it also will offer better access to patients.

The existing clinic, on a four-lane highway, is tricky to get into and even can be intimidating for some older drivers, Strange said. The location of the new $6.5 million clinic “gives us a clear shot. We’re on a bus line. There’s a good traffic flow past the clinic.”

That traffic flow no doubt will increase. The new address is 4190 Loberg Ave., but it’s a good bet it will be better known as the clinic that’s kitty-corner to Mills Fleet Farm, the much-anticipated retail outlet expected to open in late summer. Next door to the clinic, a new Holiday Inn Express opened just before Grandma’s Marathon. The clinic, where construction started just last week, is expected to open in October, Strange said.

It’s all in a district, roughly from Wal-Mart to Sam’s Club, that Hermantown has christened as its Marketplace, Mayor Wayne Boucher said.

“There’s more room available,” he said, adding he could see more retail stores and/or casual dining options as possibilities.

The Marketplace district is a combination of new development — such as Mills Fleet Farm — and redevelopment. The site of the hotel and clinic were most recently occupied by Kolar Chevrolet, Boucher said. Remnants of the old Cinema theater also were removed to make way for the project.

Pionk’s hockey analogy — in the town whose high school holds the 2016 Class A state hockey championship — began with a quote from hockey great Wayne Gretzky.

“Some people skate to the puck; I skate to where the puck is going,” she said, citing Gretzky.

“You’ve been able to anticipate the opportunity to provide expanded services and employment to many of our residents and neighboring opportunities,” Pionk added, speaking to Strange and others from the hospital.

Former Hermantown Mayor Dan Urshan switched to a more seasonal analogy.

“This is a great spot,” Urshan said. “I think St. Luke’s has hit a homerun, a grand slam here.”

The St. Luke’s administrative team thought the new location was “fabulous” from the start, Strange said.

“We didn’t know that Fleet Farm would be across the street when we got involved with this, but now we’re excited to have neighbors that are going to be high traffic and give exposure to our clinic.”

Short remarks by Strange, Pionk and Boucher were followed by the obligatory groundbreaking ceremony, with 17 blue-helmeted individuals using shovels with gold-colored blades to toss dirt from a pile for the sake of the cameras.

DSGW Architects of Duluth designed the building, and Donald Holm Construction of Duluth is the contractor.

Wellness center

Although construction for the new St. Luke’s clinic is underway, another health-related project in Hermantown is on hold.

Planners were counting on $8 million in bonding money from the state as part of the financial package for the proposed $17 million Essentia Health Regional Wellness Center at the site of the just-closed Hermantown Middle School.

But the Legislature didn’t pass a bonding bill, meaning wellness center funding is awaiting a possible special session.

“We haven’t waved the white flag yet that there won’t be a special session,” Pionk said. “We think that the fire might get a little fanning after the Fourth of July. … We’ll figure out a way.”

Urshan, a member of the volunteer steering committee, said he, too, remains optimistic.

“Something will happen in a positive way.”

Article by the Duluth News Tribune