Essentia Health is purchasing the property formerly occupied by Younkers at Miller Hill Mall in Duluth. The seller is Bonstores Realty Two LLC, according to preliminary documents on file with the state. 

"The acquisition will allow the Northland’s largest health care provider to offer a variety of services to its patients at a convenient location," said Maureen Talarico, Essentia media relations specialist. "A number of options are being considered for developing this property. Those plans will be announced when they are finalized."

Bon-Ton, which owned Younkers, sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February 2018. Two months later, it changed the bankruptcy petition to Chapter 7, meaning the company would not restructure. The Duluth store, which employed 134 persons, was among those that were set for closure. A Superior Younkers store had already closed. Bon-Ton also owned Herbergers, which closed it’s Virginia store, along with Carson’s, Bergner’s and Boston Store.

A property document indicates Essentia’s purchase price for the holdings is $3.2 million. It includes 161,000 square feet at the center of the 831,000 square foot mall.  

The investment comes atop massive commitments the nonprofit is making in other Duluth healthcare projects. Essentia Health intends to invest approximately $675 million to replace buildings on its downtown Duluth campus and another $125 million on related infrastructure and financing. The company says it's the largest private investment in Duluth’s history.

Younkers was among three anchors at Miller Hill Mall. Sears closed last year and J.C. Penney Co. remains open. The mall opened in 1973 and Younkers constructed its expansion in 1987. Other major tenants are DSW, Dick's, Old Navy and Barnes & Noble.