The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has determined that the site of St. Paul’s former Ford plant is clean enough for redevelopment.
In a May 15 letter to Ford’s Environmental Quality Office in Dearborn, Mich., the MPCA informed the company that its 122-acre parcel in Highland Park has been issued a certificate of completion, meaning the company’s cleanup of its longtime manufacturing site is done.
“The MPCA appreciates the cooperative effort of Ford Motor Company during the extended investigation and cleanup of the main parcel,” wrote Amy Hadiaris, supervisor of the Remediation Division in the MPCA’s Voluntary Investigation and Cleanup Program.
Ford’s former Twin Cities Assembly Plant in Highland Park has been eyed for development since Ford announced it was shutting down operations more than a decade ago. Soil testing found heavy metals, including lead, and volatile organic compounds at the site.
Cleanup at the site began in 2013 and continued through January. Approximately 440,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil were removed.
The automaker announced in June 2018 that it had chosen Minneapolis-based Ryan Companies as master developer of the site. After months of extensive community meetings, Ryan last fall proposed a new mixed-use urban village that includes 3,800 units of new housing, including 760 units of affordable housing, as well as commercial and retail space within 40 new city blocks.
Last month, the St. Paul City Council approved amendments to the area’s master zoning plan to also allow 35 single-family houses to be built along Mississippi River Boulevard.
Still to come is for the city to conduct a comprehensive review of the site, called an Alternative Urban Areawide Review, probably by the end of the summer. Also over the next several months, the City Council will decide how much St. Paul is willing to chip in for the development. Ryan has requested $107 million in public financing to help cover the costs of infrastructure and affordable housing.
City Council Member Chris Tolbert, who represents the area, said the MPCA’s signoff on the site “is a huge milestone for the neighborhood. I was ecstatic when I saw it.”
Two smaller parcels of the former Ford site will not be part of Ryan’s development and were not included in the certificate of completion.
James Walsh • 612-673-7428