Superior Plating files for Chapter 11

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December 5, 2011
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie
Northeast factory closing after more than 90 years in business

Superior Plating Inc., a metal finishing factory in Northeast at University and 1st avenues, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Michael McMonagle, president of the company, said the factory will be out of operation by year’s end and Superior Plating’s 5.6-acre site will go up for auction early next year. The factory has one potential buyer for the site — CCSG Finance, which has the first chance to bid on the property as part an agreement related to the bankruptcy filing.

When the company filed for Chapter 11 on Nov. 15, Superior Plating had 55 employees, and now it’s down to 30 people with the rest of the layoffs planned for coming weeks.

The company has $2.39 million in total assets and $2.71 million in debts, according to court records.

The company was founded in 1919 and has a long legacy of being a strong community partner in the neighborhood.

“I have a lot of feelings about this,” McMonagle said. “In some ways, there’s relief. In some ways, there’s sadness.”

He said he regrets that some of the company’s customers will be left “high and dry.” The factory is one of a kind in the city with the ability to do plating and detail work on metal parts designed for a wide variety of uses.

Superior Plating’s site at 315 1st Ave. NE has an estimated market value of $2.2 million, according to Hennepin County property tax records. Superior Plating has attempted to market the site for redevelopment for years, but the economic downturn and pollution on the site have been roadblocks.

The factory is listed as an active Superfund site, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. It’s been on the state’s Superfund site list since 1984. Groundwater on the site is contaminated with solvents, including Trichloroethylene — a liquid used to clean metal parts.

Superior Plating sought support from the Nicollet Island-East Bank Neighborhood Association (NIEBNA) in early 2007 for a redevelopment plan calling for 550 to 600 condos and 20,000 square feet of retail. The proposal was later shelved after the condo market collapsed.

Before that plan came before the neighborhood, Ryan Cos. US Inc. had considered building a 20-story condo tower with up to 600 units on the site, but the proposal fell through in the spring of 2006.

Victor Grambsch, president of NIEBNA, said he plans to meet with Scott Parkin, president of the Northeast Minneapolis Business Association, to discuss a strategy about how the two associations can collaborate and weigh in on the future of the site. “We’re going to sit down and see if there is something proactive we can do,” he said.

Parkin, an urban luxury specialist with Hoffman Parkin Urban Realty, said McMonagle has been a “very supportive member of the business community.”

“He will be missed by everyone,” he said.

Parkin said the Superior Plating site is a huge redevelopment opportunity for the city. He’d like to see a mixed-use project similar to what Superior Plating was trying to achieve with the 2007 plan come to fruition.

Superior Plating’s plant is 110,000 square feet. During the course of its operations, crews at the plant have worked on a variety of finishes — from blackoxide to zinc, according to the company website.

McMonagle said he hopes that there will be a lot of bidders on the site at the auction and would love to see a developer move ahead with a plan for a mixed-used project combining residential and retail on the property.

“It’s a prime location,” he said.

Reach Sarah McKenzie at smckenzie@mnpubs.com.