Straight River Apartments and Straight River City Park

Project Location: 601 First Avenue Northeast, Faribault, MN 55021

Nominated by: City of Faribault

After a series of failed redevelopment attempts, the City of Faribault is moving forward with plans for a brownfield site in its downtown that is considered to be a “catalyst site” in the city’s Master Plan. The redevelopment of this site, the Straight River Site, will have a direct impact on the rest of the downtown area. The proposed 111 apartments will increase foot traffic in the downtown area where residents and visitors can shop and dine at local establishments. It is anticipated this will spur additional tourism activities and business development. The City has very low vacancy rates downtown, so this property has been a noticeable blight.

The site has a varied industrial history including use as a railroad yard, bulk petroleum storage site, and a city dump, among others. These past uses have left soils contaminated with debris including concrete, brick, glass, metal debris, ash, cinders and clinkers. Other known contaminants at the site include diesel range organics, gasoline range organics, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds and metals. In order to accommodate both residential and recreational uses, this site will be cleaned to meet the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s most stringent standards.

Existing waste mass and shallow perched groundwater posed challenges to construction that required careful planning to balance cleanup costs with structural stability. An unexpected finding during the investigation of contamination was elevated levels of lead in soils in an isolated area of the project that meets the criteria hazardous waste. These soils will be treated by stabilization during construction, retested to confirm they are stabilized, and disposed of at a non-hazardous waste landfill at a significantly lower cost than direct disposal in a hazardous waste landfill. To address the soil remediation challenge, a rammed aggregate pier foundation will be implemented to limit the amount of excavation for soil corrections while providing the remediation necessary to maintain safe occupancy of the site and controlling overall project costs. Construction on this project has been heavily impacted by the COVID-10 pandemic in addition to standard brownfield pitfalls, and is still underway.

When finished, the site will soon be home to a 111-unit market-rate apartment complex and neighboring park.

Project Financing

  • Private capital of Straight River Apartments, LLC
  • City of Faribault
  • TIF

Project Partners

  • City of Faribault, Minnesota (Owner)
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (Regulatory Oversight)
  • Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (Environmental Funding)
  • Straight River Apartments, LLC (Owner)
  • Wells Fargo (Lender)
  • Crown Bank (Lender)
  • American Engineering Testing, Inc. (Environmental Consultant)
  • Alliance Contracting, Inc. (General Contractor)
  • Ehlers and Associates, Inc. (Financial Consultant)
  • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (Shoreland Overlay District Review)