Re: City property mkt and pollution
From: Fred H Olson -- WB0YQM (
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 93 04:49 CDT
[Below is an email response to the article posted to alt.planning.urban.
   Followed by my response (by email) to David. Fred ]
>From:dsucher [at] (david sucher)
>RE: City property mkt and pollution
>17-AUG-1993 17:18:48
>I the property for sale?  From whom? Will they sell on condition that it
>complies with all relevant hazardouse waste laws?
>There is no question that a cleaned-up site can be fine for housing.
>I wasn't sure of your question. Are you considering buying it? To
>redevelop it for CoHousing? Give me more information and perhaps I can be
>of some help.
>My earlier reply was based on an incomplete version of your posting. So I
>gather you are doing a FEASIBILITY STUDY; that's what we call it in the
>development business.
>It's complicated but methodical and with some risk. It's a program, in fact.
>The first question, as I mentioned in the prior post is: will the current
>owner clean up the property? Generally, unless one is a high rish taker or
>gettingb the property for "free" (ha!ha!), one never buys a potentially
>hazardous property until IT HAS BEEN CLEANED UP. If an oil company owns
>it, then they will probably do so because I believe that there liability
>will continue through successive owners. Anyway: as far as I am concerned:
>will the current owner clean it up?
In my previous article I (Fred Olson) failed to describe the context adequately:
I am a member of a cohouising group - that is people who would like to live on
the site if cohousing can be built there.  (The cohousing concept includes
major participation by the people who will live in a community in the
design and development of the community.)
The site is currently owned by a person who was a principal in the now out of
business truck operation that operated there until about 3 years ago. He has a
The land has been for sale for those three years at an asking price of $330,000.
At that price in its current condition there have been no buyers come forward...
The Minneapolis Community Development Authority (MCDA) is considering
purchasing the site and preparing it for commercial/industrial reuse.
The MCDA is doing this at the urging of the Seward Neighborhood Group (SNG)
and its affiliated community development corporation, Seward Redesign (S/R).
SNG is one of the most well established neighborhood organizations in Mpls -
it's been around about 30 years and has several paid staff people and many
active board and committee members from the community. S/R shares offices with
SNG but has a seperate staff (about 3 people ??).  S/R recently was the
subject of a Mpls Star/Tribune editorial which essentially said ' S/R is
an example of how to redevelop the city'.
The owner has been cooperative in discussing the problems with the site and
doing and allowing the cleanup and investigation of the site that has been done
so far.  (Old tanks and some contaminated soil was removed in 1988 or so shortly
before trucking operations unexpectedly ceased when Sears discontinued catalog
operations here.  Unfortunately new tanks were installed then also.)  But it
isnt clear (to me) that he has the resources to undertake cleanup to housing
standards particularly now that non petroleum contamination has been found.
Certainly the price of the land given the pollution should be negotiable and S/R
has pursued this some. The owner has an outstanding mortgage on the property so
negotiations with the bank have also been discussed.
The cohousing group which is made up of mostly low and moderate income people
has been expecting to get the land for a nominal amount through MCDA write-downs
(Yes, essentially "free" which is fairly common around here for city
redevelopment)   We would expect to finance construction at near market rate tho
hopefully with some subsidy for some "affordable units".  We are at the stage of
exploring feasability (and have been for about 15 months...).  We realize that
this will give us a less free hand in the cohousing development process but
are willing to accept this. We have been working with S/R in this exploration
tho it has been my feeling that even S/R has been to quick to assume the project
is not feasible because of the pollution.
I count it as a personal coup to be able to argue for continued
hope that the project was feasible when the usually optimistic
Caren Dewar-Saxton, Exec Dir of S/R couldn't see a chance of making it work.
I took a January '93 pollution report to a geologist friend (Bob Kadwell)
who works in the pollution cleanup and has also been involved with redevelopment
issues in the past.  Bob's natural skepticism of MCDA and expertise led me to
the conclusion that the data did not at that time support the conclusion that
housing was not feasible.  Unfortunately Bob's very busy out of town at the
moment and I have not been able to consult him about the July report. That
conclusion, I think, led to further study and the July report.
                                  Wed  08-18-1993
                                  Fred H. Olson    ( WB0YQM )
                                  1221 Russell Av N
                                  Minneapolis, MN 55411
                                  (612) 588-9532
                                  (Internet: fred%jwh [at]

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