The metro’s conaminated sites got a little more attention than usual last week when first the Metropolitan Council and then the Department of Employment and Economic Development announced grant packages, including grants for the Gallery Flats project in downtown Hopkins. That followed a grant announced in June for the same project.
The Park Nicollet and Lutheran Digest sites that make up the Gallery Flats project aren’t unusually contaminated, though—at least not in the smoke-belching-factory way that way most people think of. The sites are just two properties among hundreds that have health issues that must be taken care of before they can be redeveloped.
The grant money for the Lutheran Digest building, for example, will take care of soil remediation and asbestos abatement. The Park Nicollet money will clean up arsenic and asbestos.
One look at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's "What's In My Neighborhood" map shows how widespread such properties are. The old BP station at 525 Blake Road—soon to contain a Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Bruegger’s Bagels, Sprint store and Fantastic Sams—is listed as a petroleum brownfield because of its past use. Along the area's major commercial corridors and nodes, a good proportion of the commercial properties are listed as having contamination or hazardous materials like asbestos.
(Note that not all sites in the database are contaminated. The database also include potentially contaminated sites and sites with environmental permits and registrations.)
Grants like that can make the difference between a profitable redevelopment project that beautifies the area and a languishing, vacant property.
So check out the MPCA’s map and see which sites are near your neighborhood? Which ones would you like to see cleaned up the most?