Developer walks away from Superior Plating deal

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July 10, 2014 // UPDATED 10:28 am - July 16, 2014
By: Ben Johnson
The old Superior Plating factory was demolished in April
Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson
Developer splits after neighborhood demands bigger, better project

The latest developer to propose a new housing project where the Superior Plating factory once stood has walked away from a tentative agreement to buy the site.

DLC Residential signed a letter of intent to purchase the 5.6-acre site last winter and had floated plans that included approximately 500 apartments, but after meeting with the Nicollet Island East Bank Neighborhood Association (NIEBNA) several times it decided to walk away from the project.

During the last meeting between DLC and the NIEBNA Superior Plating task force, neighbors pressed representatives from the Florida-based developer to come up with a larger project built with higher-quality building materials.

“The design they proposed, well, it wasn’t terrible but we want a denser development. We want a tall, skinny building, not a squat, wide one,” said NIEBNA President Victor Grambsch. “And we’re certainly not interested in the six-story, stick frame construction like you’re seeing in Dinkytown right now.”

Third Ward City Council Member Jacob Frey was pleased by the news, and wrote in a mass email to the NIEBNA Superior Plating task force that he's already spoken with several developers interested in the site. “The design did not fully utilize the space, did not produce a 100-year building, and did not fully fit with the neighborhood plan. We can do better!” he wrote.

Superior Plating went bankrupt in late 2011 and its land was purchased by First and University Investors (FUI) in 2012. FUI used government pollution cleanup grants to demolish the dilapidated 110,000-square-foot factory in April and during the last few months crews cleaned up the polluted soil underneath the building.

Some remnants of chromium still cling to the soil and bedrock, which creates yellow puddles when it rains. Still, the bulk of the pollution remediation is completed, making the site even more attractive to developers.

Although DLC is based in Florida, it’s trying to make a push into the Twin Cities market. It’s building a new 158-unit apartment complex in St. Louis Park’s West End, and Rich Kauffman, President of DLC’s Midwest Region, told The Journal last winter that the company was actively pursuing several developable sites around the metro.

Kauffman declined to comment on this story or confirm that DLC had dropped its plan for Superior Plating, but Eric Galatz, a lawyer representing FUI, did confirm that DLC was no longer interested in the site. Galatz declined to elaborate on why the deal fell apart.

Ryan Companies spent several years working on a plan to build as many as 600 condos at the site, but that was dropped in 2006. Greystar Real Estate Partners, a South Carolina-based developer, considered a plan to build apartments there in 2012, but that never materialized either.