To get the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant in Arden Hills ready for redevelopment, some things had to go:
More than 100,000 tons of contaminated soil, 43,700 feet of railroad track, 39,000 feet of fencing, 11,780 feet of steam pipe, 38,600 feet of storm pipe, 37,500 feet of sanitary sewer pipe, 48,600 feet of old water main pipe and 42,000 feet of gas pipe.
And Ramsey County officials are betting that whoever develops what is now known as Rice Creek Commons won't miss any of it.
On Friday, county officials announced that soil cleanup of the 427-acre site is complete, moving one step closer to what they hope will be an ambitious mixed-use redevelopment of what was once the largest contaminated site in Minnesota.
The site was cleaned to residential standards, meaning that it's safe for new housing. About 93 percent of materials taken off the site have been recycled or reused in new roadways in Arden Hills and other parts of the metro area.
"When we decided to purchase the TCAAP site in 2013, our goal was to return this vacant property into the economic and social engine that it once was," said Ramsey County Commissioner Rafael Ortega.
"Completing the cleanup puts us one step closer to creating a vibrant development that will strengthen our community."
After decades of ownership by the federal government, the site was purchased by Ramsey County in April 2013 for $28.5 million, which included the cost of cleaning the solvent-heavy soil. Demolition and soil cleanup began about the same time, said Mark Ryan, president and co-owner of St. Paul-based Carl Bolander & Sons.
All that contaminated soil was removed one 20-ton truckload at a time, Ryan said, and another 20,000 tons of clean soil was trucked in. Bolander completed the demolition and environmental remediation work on time and on budget, county officials said.
The site is expected to be removed from the federal list of Superfund sites sometime in early to mid-2016.
All that work was done to prepare Rice Creek Commons for life as a mixed-use development, said Heather Worthington, Ramsey County's deputy manager. That process is now expected to heat up, she said.
"I think the site is on everybody's list in the development community," Worthington said.
Other steps prior to redevelopment include knocking down 44 buildings and carting away contaminated soil to facilitate the kind of development laid out in the county's master plan.
That plan calls for 1,500 units of housing on 168 acres, 2 million square feet of office space on another 156 acres, 300,000 square feet of retail space on 18 acres, and 53 acres of open space that could include hiking and biking trails.
Worthington said that the project probably will be developed in phases over the next decade. Still to be determined, she said, is whether Rice Creek Commons is built out by a single developer or many.
"We want to have a site that meets the market," she said.