Environmental Impact Project Finalists: Solhaus

Project Location:  Minneapolis

Project Summary

The Solhaus project transformed a Superfund site into a successful 75-unit apartment building.  With an industrial history back to the 1880s, the site was highly polluted from decades of paint mixing followed by petroleum distribution.  By the 1880s and the operations out of business, the site was left virtually idle and occupied only by a small office building, warehouse and parking lot.

Solhaus Associates invested an extraordinary level of energy and capitalized on The MPCA’s nationally recognized Voluntary Cleanup Programs and the State’s and Hennepin County’s cleanup grant programs to secure the liability protections and cleanup funding necessary to redevelop the site.  The Solhaus design and environmental team worked hard, iteratively and cooperatively with a broad range of stakeholders to develop a cleanup strategy that would work – with no room for cost or scheduling overruns.

Excavation on the small triangular site required shoring and dewatering.  Over 19,000 tons of soils, including 17 tons of PCB hazardous waste was removed, alleviating a continuing source of contamination to groundwater.  Dewatering required groundwater treatment prior to discharge.  Air monitoring was necessary for worker and public protection.  The building required a vapor mitigation system to reduce the risk of organic vapor intrusion.

The project broke ground in October 2010, and was completed in time for occupancy in September 2011.  The environmental cleanup achieved the approvals of three separate MPCA programs (Superfund, Petroleum Remediation and Voluntary Investigation and Cleanup). The site was delisted from the Superfund list.

Solhaus was a 2012 Minnesota Construction Association Awards of Excellence recipient; named Best in Real Estate by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal (2011) and named one of 26 Top Construction Projects of 2011 by Finance and Commerce.  The MPCA has the project highlighted on its Brownfields Success Stories webpage.

Project Submitted by:  Vieau Associates

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