Brooklyn Center project looks to grants for cleanup

  • Article by: MARIA ELENA BACA
  • Star Tribune
  • June 28, 2012 - 8:41 AM

City officials and developers in Brooklyn Center are watching more than $1.5 million in grants come together to help clear the way for a $10 million industrial project.

The project will include 90,000 square feet of office and warehouse space, said Paul Hyde, a partner at the developer Real Estate Recycling.

Earlier this spring, the city applied for the grants to treat and remove contaminated soil and monitor ground water on the nearly 9-acre site on Lake Breeze Ave., near Hwy. 100. The project has been awarded $740,000 from the state Department of Employment and Economic Development. Requests for $525,000 from the Metropolitan Council and $240,000 from Hennepin County are expected to be approved this week.

A Northwest Racquet Club, built in the mid-1980s, once accounted for much of the parcel. Life Time Fitness purchased the club in 2006 and demolished it in 2007.

Last year, Hyde's company discovered that the asphalt tennis courts milled into soil on the site had been painted with a material that contained asbestos. In addition, the parcel was a dump site for excess soil, possibly removed from nearby road and other construction projects, said Brooklyn Center Economic Development Director Gary Eitel.

Off-site preparation already is starting before a scheduled Thursday closing date. Hyde's company hopes to start soil correction and grading in July and pouring footings and foundations in August. They hope to complete construction by December.

Still, the grant money is vital to make the project go, Eitel said.

Sometimes cities can fund cleanup, or at least offer tax incentives for developers. But Brooklyn Center already has tax-increment financing sites across the street at the Caribou Coffee headquarters and farther north at Toro Wagner Spray Tech. It is buying just over an acre of land owned by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, but plans to sell that to the developer. The city recently invested in the redevelopment at the former Brookdale Mall and infrastructure improvements in that area.

"We reinvested in the city's central commerce area to ignite that development," Eitel said of the Shingle Creek Crossing redevelopment. "A lot of times what they'll do is assume someone will come up with money. But the last thing I'd want to do is suggest I could just dig into a pocket. I don't have any more pockets."

Still, the city applied for the grants earlier this spring on behalf of Real Estate Recycling and the project to build the 90,000 square-foot office/warehouse building. They estimated at the time that the project would create 160 full-time, long-term jobs and increase the city's tax base. Hyde said the project indicates more good things to come, and it seems appropriate that the recovery from the recession would start with conveniently located inner-ring infill sites.

"It's the first new industrial building we've built in five years," he said. "It's a broader indicator that the market is recovering."

One tenant, medical supply company Omnicare Inc., already has signed a lease for about a fourth of the available space, Hyde said. He said his company expects to add two more tenants.

Maria Elena Baca • 612-673-4409

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