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Essentia’s Vision Northland project pushed back, project cost rises

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DULUTH, MN. -- A year later, and trying to come up with an extra 100 million dollars.

That's what Essentia executives are dealing with as it relates to Essentia's Vision Northland project, now slated for completion in 2023.

A year since construction began in downtown Duluth, the now 900-million-dollar Vision Northland project won't be finished until a year after the original completion date.

"We are on time with our new timeline," said Robert Erickson, Lead Physician on the Vision Northland project.

A new timeline that has added 14,000 square feet to their blueprints adding another patient floor and more outpatient care spaces.

"This schedule is quite aggressive. It's about 26,000 square feet per month is what it equates to when you are looking at a 942,000 square foot building," said Phil Johnson, project manager with McGough Construction.

Despite the building going up with the pandemic on-going, they have only had to stop progress for one day, but are prepared for anything to pop up.

"So far we are hanging in there, but obviously we are preparing for contingency plans if things change or if materials are delayed," said Johnson.

Despite the expansion, expanding, even more, it comes down to care for patients now, and into the future.

"We found an opportunity to increase the footprint of the building, for patient care, and we are glad we did that because we are seeing an uptick in patient care over the past few months and we anticipate that to continue," said Erickson.

When the biggest tower on the project is finished, it will stand 15 stories above First Street.

It will also be the tallest building in Duluth.

Earlier this year, Essentia laid off about 900 employees.

According to hospital spokespeople, the price increased primarly because the project has grown.

"Opportunities arose during the design phase to provide additional capacity for patient care, which led to the current scale and timeline. As a result of the added space and subsequent longer timeline, as well as changes in market conditions, the cost of financing increased," Louis St. George, Essentia's Media Relations Specialist, wrote.

He added that those additional costs will be covered by philanthropy sources and Essentia Health.

In the past, they have said funding for the project comes from a fund, separate from the one used to pay for staffing.

Ryan Compeau

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