Developer, East Bank business update Superior condo-site negotiations

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October 3, 2005 // UPDATED 1:58 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Jeremy Stratton
Jeremy Stratton

Superior Plating and Ryan Cos. are still negotiating about the possible sale and relocation of the 315 1st Ave. NE plant, and may seek subsidies to make room for 18-20 stories of condos, townhomes and commercial space, officials of both companies told the Nicollet Island/East Bank Neighborhood Association (NIEBNA) board Sept 19.

Tony Phelps, Ryan's director of development, said his company is likely to seek public dollars in the form of tax-increment financing (TIF) for the $20 million project. (TIF reduces a project's construction costs, paid off via the development's higher property taxes.)

Getting a government subsidy would mean that 20 percent of the 500-600 proposed units would have to be affordable at 50 percent of the metropolitan median income ($38,500 for a family of four, according to the federal government).

Superior Plating President Mike McMonagle said his business is not looking to profit from the deal "for tax purposes," but only to cover relocation costs, which both parties agreed would account for 90 percent of the cost.

Cleaning up existing pollution is estimated to cost $800,000-$1.8 million. The site contains two types of contamination: soil and groundwater. Phelps said that consultants brought in to assess soil contamination feel it is limited to the soil and has not reached beyond the limestone bedrock beneath the site. However, the extent of soil pollution will not be known until the building comes down, he said. Ryan is looking at grants to assist with pollution-removal costs, he said. Some contamination may date back to when the site housed streetcars, before Superior Plating occupied the site.

McMonagle said Superior Plating has been controlling groundwater pollution for 13 years -- and will pay to do so in the future, should the company move. Organic contamination has been found in one of 15 wells dug to monitor the groundwater flowing east (parallel to the river) from the site. The source of the contamination, somewhere to the north, has not been identified, McMonagle said, adding that the pollution has not reached the river.

A pump in the well destroys the pollutants with ultra-violet light and peroxide -- rather than releasing it into the air, as is common for such treatment -- before the water goes to the sewer, McMonagle explained. He said the process is 99 percent efficient and received an award in 1999.

Mathwig Development recently withdrew its application for its project at 110 NE 6th St. -- one block from the Superior Plating site -- after the Minneapolis Planning Commission balked at the 12-story project, NIEBNA President Victor Grambsch reported. Another NIEBNA board member noted that the Planning Commission seems amenable to eight stories, but not 12. A Mathwig Development spokesman has said the company plans to "relaunch" the project in some form in the first quarter of 2006.

It remains to be seen how an 18-20-story Superior/Ryan project, if built, would fall prey to such an eight-story precedent.