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Essentia Health moving forward with Vision Northland project

Preliminary conceptual drawing of the Vision Northland project. Plans are not finalized, so the look of the buildings may change. Submitted / Essentia Health

By Maureen Talarico
Essentia Health’s board of directors has demonstrated its strong commitment to the health of Essentia’s patients, the economic vitality of the community and the work environment for Essentia Health staff. In May, the board formally approved additional planning, financing and construction for Vision Northland, a major project to transform Essentia’s downtown Duluth campus.

“This decision represents an investment in Essentia’s mission, along with the future of Duluth and surrounding areas,” said Essentia Health CEO David C. Herman, MD. “Vision Northland will serve as a catalyst for further development, bringing the best level of care possible to our patients while retaining and attracting the brightest talents to serve our communities. It’s an opportunity to acknowledge and support the excellent care that my colleagues provide here every day.”

Essentia Health will invest approximately $675 million to replace buildings on its downtown Duluth campus and another $125 million on related infrastructure and financing. It is the largest private investment in Duluth’s history.

Vision Northland will build 800,000 square feet of new facilities and renovate approximately 114,000 square feet of existing facilities in downtown Duluth. This includes plans to build a new St. Mary’s Medical Center, a clinic building and an outpatient surgery center. Essentia’s overall footprint in downtown Duluth will be reduced by 240,000 square feet, opening up space for other development.

“While significant construction will take place, it’s important to note this is not about new buildings,” said Dr. Herman. “It is about focusing on the practice of medicine and how we can best advance our mission to make a healthy difference in the lives of those we are privileged to serve.”

Next steps include finalizing schematic designs and a master construction plan. The project is expected to be complete in 2022.