Five upcoming housing and commercial developments have landed a total of $560,000 in grants from Hennepin County’s Environmental Response Fund (ERF), which is used to help spur the redevelopment of contaminated sites.

The ERF is funded by mortgage registry and deed taxes. Since the grant program was established in 2001, county leaders have handed out more than $54 million through 380 awards. The Hennepin County Board approved the spring 2018 grant round on July 24, which will help enable the construction of an estimated 786 housing units.

Here’s a rundown of the latest ERF grants:

• West Broadway Curve Apartments & Townhomes, Minneapolis, $153,654 for contaminated soil cleanup.

Housing developer Sherman Associates is planning a two-part redevelopment of the West Broadway Curve area in north Minneapolis. The builder envisions a 69-unit, affordable-housing apartment building and an adjoining cluster of 20 market-rate rental townhouses. The townhouses will be laid out in five buildings of four units each.

The 2.1-acre site runs along the north side of 1706-1920 W. Broadway as the busy thoroughfare curves to the northwest. The stretch now has 21 city-owned vacant lots, acquired more than a decade ago to facilitate redevelopment into high-quality housing. The effort’s first phase was West Broadway Crescent, a 54-unit affordable project from Commonbond Communities and the Basilica of St. Mary, which opened in 2015.

• 36 Bryant, Minneapolis, $85,000 for contaminated soil cleanup and soil gas vapor mitigation.

The 36 Bryant project, approved by the city this spring, includes the redevelopment of a one-story office building at 3612-3616 Bryant Av. South into 38 market-rate, “micro-unit” apartments and a trio of two-bedroom units. The four-story building, given the go-ahead over the objections of a group of neighbors, is taking advantage of a soaring demand for small apartments near “walkable” city amenities.

The site holds an office building constructed in 1954 and leased for many years by the Volunteers of America. An environmental investigation of the parcel found it contained contaminated fill as well as “polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons,” typically produced by the burning of coal or other fossil fuels.

• 13250 Grove Drive Redevelopment, Maple Grove, $27,723 for soil cleanup.

An upcoming project for a new retail building in Maple Grove’s popular Arbor Lakes commercial area was approved for an ERF cleanup grant. City officials indicated they are currently considering a proposal for a 7,340-square-foot, multitenant retail at a site located at 13250 Grove Drive — a parcel which one held a dry-cleaning establishment.

The spot is located just north of the Maple Grove Crossings retail center, which is anchored by a Cub Foods grocery and Kohl’s department store. The owner is listed in Hennepin County records as an entity related to Minneapolis-based developer John Wall. The grant includes funds to mitigate soil contamination left from the use of dry-cleaning solvents.

• Calhoun Towers, Minneapolis, $249,480 for mitigation of contaminated soil and groundwater.

The mammoth Calhoun Towers proposal from Bader Development to build around 750 units near Bde Maka Ska landed nearly $250,000 from the county’s environmental fund for the construction of its first phase: a 242-unit, 22-story apartment tower featuring market-rate units. Future phases include another 22-story tower as well as the later addition of affordable units. Bader told city officials 20 of the 124 units planned in a future six-story building and all 121 units in a seven-story building would be reserved for low-income renters.

• Southern Gateway Redevelopment, St. Anthony, $44,400 for contaminated soil cleanup.

The city of St. Anthony secured $44,000 from the Hennepin County ERF to clean contaminated soils at the former Lowry Grove mobile home park, where a private developer is planning to construct up to 430 units in three buildings. The controversial proposal from the Village, an affiliate of Wayzata-based Continental Property Group, was retooled this year to call for 189 market-rate senior living units; 146 market-rate multifamily rental units; and 79 affordable housing units.

Contamination issues at the former trailer park include soil polluted with petroleum as well as groundwater and vapor contamination from volatile organic compounds.


Don Jacobson is a freelance writer based in St. Paul. He is the former editor of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Real Estate Journal.