A mere 10 miles from both downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, an undeveloped parcel of land known as the site of the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant in Arden Hills sat empty for decades.However, that the land has now been cleaned up and deemed safe for residential use and developer Alatus can launch the official planning stages of transforming it into shops, homes, places to eat, parks, trails and office space. “It’s not just going to be another residential subdivision. It’s going to be a place to live, work and play,” David Sand said.
Sand is the chair of the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant Joint Development Authority. He says it’s taken years to clean up the industrial waste left behind from when the plant was in use, primarily during World War II. The area is now being called Rice Creek Commons and is taking inspiration from areas like Edina’s Centennial Lakes and West End in St. Louis Park, only it will be a lot bigger. “Our job is to really take their plan, their master development plan that they’ve put in place, and to implement it,” developer Bob Lux, with Alatus, said.
The project is massive with 427 acres of land. That’s slightly larger than downtown St. Paul. However, before developers can truly get started, the EPA must delist the soil on the land that’s currently known as one of Minnesota’s largest Superfund sites. The Environmental Protection Agency can begin that process once the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency signs off this summer.
Developers say the mini-city won’t be finished for another 10 to 15 years but, even so, they believe the demand for something like this today will stay.
“It does not look intimidating at all; it feels inviting,” Sand said. Once it opens, he estimates more than 4,000 jobs will be created within the Commons. “We’re hoping that some of those 4,000 people that work here stay here and actually live in some of the multi-family and single-family options that are going to be provided,” Kent Carlson, with Inland Development, said. The company has teamed up with Alatus to develop the commercial space.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation is already working on new interchanges in the area. As for the area’s Superfund status, talks with the EPA have begun to delist the site’s soil. Groundwater will still be listed for years but water provided to those who will live and work in the area will all come from St. Paul.
By: Katherine Johnson
Date: May 18, 2016 10:27pm CST
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