An experienced development firm is under contract to buy the shuttered Nestlé plant in suburban St. Louis Park.

Minneapolis-based Hillcrest Development is interested in redeveloping the site, which comprises a manufacturing facility spanning about 311,000 square feet, said Greg Hunt, economic development coordinator for the city of St. Louis Park. The site, at 5320 W. 23rd St., is off Hwy. 100 near Cedar Lake Road S., and was constructed in the early 1980s.

"It's a great location and a great city," said Scott Tankenoff, Hillcrest's managing partner. "It's a marvelous location — almost everybody knows where it is, though it is a little challenging to get off the freeway." He predicted the land sale will close in 2014, but declined to elaborate on the site's price tag.

Tankenoff said the site will likely be redeveloped for multitenant manufacturing use.

Swiss food giant Nestlé said in 2011 that it would close its St. Louis Park health care and nutrition products plant over a two-year period, eliminating 243 jobs.

The plant had operated for nearly four years as a manufacturing site for nutritional food and drinks, including thickened fruit juices and tube-feeding products. Its most prominent product was Boost, a Nestlé nutritional energy drink.

The plant became the base of Nestlé's North American health care nutrition unit after the company closed its $2.5 billion purchase of Novartis Medical Nutrition, a Swiss company that based its U.S. and North American headquarters in St. Louis Park. At the time of the sale, Novartis was the world's No. 2 health care nutrition manufacturer, with annual sales of $950 million in 2006.

Hennepin County records indicate the 25-acre site is owned by Novartis Nutrition Corp. and has a market value of about $6.6 million.

Hunt said the city prefers that the now-shuttered plant retain its industrial use. "Converting the building to multi-tenant flex industrial space makes logical sense," he said, noting that the city met with Hillcrest officials Tuesday.

"We view it as an opportunity for Hillcrest, the city and the market in general," Hunt said. "This is a very prominent location, and now there's an opportunity to bring back jobs and tax base."

Hillcrest, known for its ambitious development projects, has been rehabbing Pentagon Park in Edina, one of the state's first suburban office parks. Earlier this year, the firm bought 11 buildings there for about $7.6 million in a project also involving veteran real estate developer Mark Rauenhorst.

In addition, Hillcrest recently purchased the old Minneapolis schools headquarters in Logan Park, with plans to redevelop that site for small and medium-sized businesses.