East Bank plating factory draws developer's interest

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December 20, 2004 // UPDATED 4:58 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

A local developer is eyeing the East Bank's Superior Plating factory for a possible redevelopment that would include new housing and retail.

Michael McMonagle, president of the metal-finishing factory at 315 1st Ave. NE, said Superior Plating is entertaining the developer's interest in a new use for the expansive site but is far from making a decision about relocating.

"We are at an interest stage with this developer. He has not come to us yet with an offer to actually make a purchase," McMonagle said, who declined to name the developer.

Superior Plating employs about 100 union workers who are part of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Before accepting a developer's offer, a majority of the company's shareholders would have to vote to accept the deal.

"We have an obligation to our shareholders," McMonagle said, adding that a majority of the stock in Superior Plating is held by its workers.

A redevelopment of the property would come with a steep price tag. McMonagle estimates it would take roughly $20 million, which would include relocating Superior Plating -- one of the conditions of the deal.

Superior Plating occupies a 110,000-square-foot warehouse.

Another expense the developer would likely assume is the cost of ongoing groundwater remediation. Superior Plating is listed as an active Superfund site, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). Groundwater near the massive factory is polluted with metals, cyanide and solvents.

The company uses a special Canadian technology to blast the solvents in the groundwater when the water is pumped into the air.

If the site is redeveloped, a developer would also have to pay to clean up soils at the site. McMonagle estimates the cost would range from $800,000 to $1.8 million.

If a redevelopment proposal were to move forward, McMonagle said he'd like to see the developer consider adding a platform for the Northstar Corridor Commuter rail line, a passenger rail line slated to link Downtown with Big Lake to the north.

Organizers have mentioned the site as a possible spot for a platform for the commuter rail line.