St. Paul Port Authority takes over Midway Stadium site

By: Brian Johnson

Now that the last vestiges of baseball are gone from Midway Stadium, the St. Paul Port Authority and Bloomington-based United Properties are getting ready to start prep work for a new $20 million industrial park that will rise there.

This week, the Port Authority officially takes control of the 12.77-acre Midway site at 1771 Energy Park Drive, which was home to the St. Paul Saints baseball team for 22 years.

The Saints played their final game at Midway Stadium in August, and the team’s front office moved in March into the new, $63 million CHS Field at 360 N. Broadway St. in St. Paul’s Lowertown area.

Monte Hilleman, vice president of real estate development for the Port Authority, said Tuesday that the authority would close on the Midway property by Wednesday at the latest.

“Either today or tomorrow will be the actual closing,” he said.

The authority is working with United Properties to develop a 190,000-square-foot industrial facility at the site. It’s expected to bring about 300 new jobs to the area, said Tom Collins, the authority’s senior vice president of marketing and communications.

Site work and demolition will begin in earnest in June. In coming days, the site will be secured with fencing, and some preliminary cleanup tasks will begin to “make sure there is nothing sitting outside that might be an attractive nuisance,” Hilleman said.

By this fall, the authority plans to be finished with demolition and remediation and start construction in anticipation of spring 2016 occupancy.

The property requires extensive cleanup. Before it was a ballpark with a neatly mowed grass outfield and a groomed dirt infield, the property was a dumping site for refuse — including horse manure — from the nearby Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

Hilleman said the property will be remediated with help from a vapor barrier and a “sub-slab depressurization system,” which is similar in concept to removing radon from homes — only on a much bigger scale.

It’s “like a radon system on steroids,” Hilleman said. “This is probably one of the more intense approaches to vapor mitigation we have been involved with.”

The project cost includes $14 million to $15 million for ground-up construction, plus $5 million for demolition and cleanup, Hilleman said. The authority has secured more than $2.5 million in cleanup grants in recent months, he added.

The project team is pursuing a grant from the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program. The grant would help offset costs of installing a 40-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system for the project, Hilleman said.

As previously reported, Capital City Properties — a Port Authority subsidiary — will contribute the land, valued at $3 million. United Properties will throw in nearly $2.5 million in cash and a $541,000 in-kind contribution, and an anticipated $9 million loan will cover the rest of the project cost.

For its part, United Properties is focused for now on finalizing details of the development plan, which will go before the city for approval in May or June, said United Properties communications manager Jessie Timmerman.

In addition, development plans will be presented at neighborhood meetings starting this week, she said.

Cushman & Wakefield/NorthMarq is marketing the property. The development team isn’t ready to announce any tenants yet, but Hilleman said there’s been strong interest.

Hilleman said the project will include “very modern” space with 24-foot clearance and 50-foot column space.

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