A deal that calls for a Superfund site in Fridley to be redeveloped into a jobs-rich industrial and office park cleared an important milestone this week.

Minneapolis-based Hyde Development closed on the $13.5 million purchase of 122 acres just south of Interstate 694 in the northern Twin Cities suburb. The site has been home to many kinds of industrial manufacturing since 1941, including production of naval guns for destroyers and battleships deployed in World War II.

Hyde Development plans to pump $100 million to $150 million to clean up and develop the site in a project that could ultimately create 4,000 jobs, said Paul Hyde, principal at the firm.

The plan involves developing a 12-building industrial/business park with bulk and office warehouses, office showrooms and corporate build-to-suit operations on land Hyde considers to be one of the most desirable commercial sites in the state.

Hyde Development specializes in projects involving environmental contamination. "This is our fourth Superfund site that we've done; we really like these projects," Hyde said. "We like it because of the location near 694 and East River Road, the proximity of the Northstar commuter line and the fact that the industrial market is recovering."

The reach of the Fridley site is vast — it is currently home to a 2.1 million-square-foot building, the largest of its kind in Minnesota, and bigger than the Mall of America. Six tenants, including defense and aerospace firm BAE Systems, are located in the building, employing 500 to 600 people.

That structure will remain intact as three additional buildings are constructed on its periphery. Ground will be broken this fall for the first building — a 200,000-square-foot bulk warehouse.

In 1947, the U.S. Navy purchased a portion of the site, once home to the Northern Pump Co., with the remaining land bought by FMC Corp. in 1964. Part of the land is classified as a Superfund site by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, due to the industrial solvents that were used on site until the 1960s. Most recently, the site was owned by Environmental Liability Transfer Inc. of St. Louis.

Hyde said the Navy began environmental remediation in the 1980s, efforts that continue today. However, once the main building is demolished, that remediation work will expand to include the ground underneath it.

"We expect to find other stuff under the big building," Hyde said.

Cleanup efforts, site preparation and infrastructure improvements will likely be aided by state and federal grants, as well as tax-increment financing from the city. The exact amount of TIF money has yet to be determined.

Colliers International will lease space at the site, while Mortenson Construction will handle the design and construction operations.

Janet Moore • 612-673-7752