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Brownfield sites get $3.5M for cleanup from Met Council

Cali Owings//June 26, 2015

Brownfield sites get $3.5M for cleanup from Met Council

Cali Owings//June 26, 2015

St. Louis Park-based Bader Development is looking to secure funds for more than $1.9 million in environmental cleanup costs at a printing company site in St. Louis Park.

A nearly $600,000 grant approved by the Metropolitan Council on Wednesday will help remediate contaminated soils and remove timber pilings and an underground storage tank on the 2.2-acre site at the southwest quadrant of France Avenue and Highway 7. Bader plans to build 150 market-rate and affordable apartments as well as 20,000 square feet of office space.

The project, called the Shoreham, is among 16 brownfield sites in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Hopkins, St. Louis Park and Maplewood awarded cleanup and site investigation funding from the Met Council totaling more than $3.5 million. As part of this grant round, $190,000 was awarded to pilot projects to address environmental contamination and stimulate economic development in low-income areas.

Altogether, the funding will clean 22 acres and support a $2.8 million annual increase in net tax capacity, according to Met Council program coordinator Marcus Martin. The projects funded are anticipated to create or retain 900 jobs, add 1,200 units of housing and create 400,000 square feet of commercial and industrial space.

The former Superior Plating site at 315 First Ave. NE in Minneapolis, where Lennar Multifamily Communities plans to build 278 apartments, was awarded the largest cleanup grant of $798,800. While a partial cleanup has already been completed, the funds will go toward ongoing efforts to remove metals, cyanide compounds and other contaminants from the soil and groundwater. The former Macy’s department store in downtown St. Paul, where the St. Paul Port Authority is still trying to land a deal, also topped the list with a $720,750 grant for asbestos and lead paint abatement.

A $518,000 grant will go toward asbestos abatement in the iconic Seward Towers to preserve 640 affordable apartments.

Many of the projects also applied for additional funds through county and Department of Employment and Economic Development sources, which will be announced soon.

Applications are in for an additional $1.37 million for the Superior Plating site from Hennepin County and DEED.

Bader, which is seeking another $825,000 in cleanup funds from Hennepin County and DEED, may also be eligible for $3.5 million in tax increment financing from the city of St. Louis Park. The city is expected to consider the TIF request and terms at a meeting in mid-August. A representative for Bader declined to comment Thursday because other funding sources are still pending.

While cleanup needs on redevelopment sites in St. Louis Park are not unusual, Economic Development Director Greg Hunt said the costs associated with the Shoreham project are on the higher end. In addition to the contamination cleanup, the project includes trail and roadway improvements and structured underground parking which make it economically unfeasible for the developer, Hunt said.

The pilot program, new this year, provided smaller grants for areas of poverty in St. Paul and Minneapolis. Minneapolis received a $32,200 award to conduct environmental assessments of the 50-acre Upper Harbor Terminal area. The riverfront area and former shipping yard in north Minneapolis is targeted for redevelopment into park, business and mixed uses. Another site in north Minneapolis at 4146 Fremont Ave N. will be cleaned of asbestos and lead paint with $68,600. Four sites – one in Minneapolis and three in St. Paul – that were previously home to car repair services, dealerships and gas stations received funding for environmental assessments.

Another round of cleanup grants from the Met Council will be available later this year.

Other brownfield sites receiving grants

  • In Hopkins, a $190,100 grant will be used for asbestos abatement and remediation of soil and vapors for Project for Pride in Living’s Oxford Village Apartments, a 51-unit affordable building at the southeast corner of Oxford Street and Blake Road.
  • A former industrial site off of Huron Boulevard where CPM Development plans a 168-room hotel received $180,400 for work to clear asbestos and contaminated soils.
  • Plymouth-based Dominium will receive $130,100 to turn a 75,000-square-foot industrial building at 4041 Hiawatha Ave. into 70 to 80 affordable apartments. Funding will be used for asbestos and lead paint abatement, soil remediation and soil vapor mitigation on the 1.8-acre site.
  • The Met Council awarded $94,500 to convert the former Schmidt Brewery Keg House into a mixed restaurant and retail space at 928 W. Seventh St. in St. Paul.
  • Minneapolis-based Sherman Associates received $77,900 for its 50-unit mixed income project, Villages at Frost-English, on a former bowling alley site in Maplewood.
  • A $50,000 site investigation grant will evaluate potential contaminants in several south Minneapolis properties identified as affordable housing locations.

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