Guthrie Theater Auxiliary site

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Guthrie Theater Parking Ramp (Photo: McGough Construction)

The Guthrie Theater Auxiliary Site is in the historic West Bank Mill District, along the Mississippi River, near downtown Minneapolis. It was redeveloped in 2005 to serve as the main parking ramp for the Guthrie Theater. The parking ramp portion of the site, the Ramp Property, is surrounded on three sides by the Liner Area, an area of proposed commercial/residential redevelopment. The Liner Area lies between the Ramp Property and Chicago Avenue South and Washington Avenue South.

Redevelopment of the Liner Area began in 2011, when the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) broke ground for its new headquarters. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) Voluntary Investigation and Cleanup (VIC) Program provided oversight to the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, and the AAN for the site environmental investigation, cleanup and redevelopment activities.

Environmental issues and the cleanup process

The Guthrie Theater Auxiliary Site was historically part of a railroad depot and was used for parking before redevelopment. Minneapolis entered the site into the MPCA VIC Program in 2003 to facilitate the construction of a parking ramp next to the Guthrie Theater.

Site investigations identified a widespread layer of ash fill with clinkers contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and heavy metals as well as debris/fill with varying amounts of bricks, concrete, wood and metal. Response actions at the Ramp Property involved soil management and excavation associated with the parking ramp construction. About 23,250 cubic yards of contaminated soil fill and debris were excavated and disposed off site at a landfill.

Response actions at the Liner Area involved the excavation of about 3,800 cubic yards of ash fill with debris in the spring of 2006. In addition to the Ramp Property and the Liner Area, realignment and extension of Chicago Avenue and Ninth Avenue South involved soil excavation, offsite disposal of about 1,600 cubic yards of ash fill, and reconsolidation of contaminated soil beneath Chicago Avenue next to a stormwater containment system. A restrictive covenant was filed to document and restrict access to residual ash fill remaining under the Chicago Avenue and Ninth Avenue South area of the site.

Redevelopment of the site

Site redevelopment has included construction of the Guthrie Theater Parking Ramp on South Second Street, realignment and extension of Chicago Avenue and Ninth Avenue, and redevelopment of the Liner Area. Construction of a five-story, 62,000-square-foot building at 201 Chicago Avenue South that will serve as headquarters of the AAN began in 2011. The new building, being built to LEED specifications, will house up to 140 staff, and host nearly 1,000 physicians from around the world for meetings each year. The building should be ready for occupancy in May 2012. It features a sensory garden entrance area, a rooftop terrace and state-of-the-art meeting capacities. Electrical outlets along the exterior of the building will provide power to Mill City Farmers Market vendors.

Assurances received

November 4, 2010: Limited No Further Action Determination issued to the City of Minneapolis for the site excluding a southern portion of the Liner Area where significant ash fill remains.
December 16, 2010: No Association Determination issued to U.S. Bank as lender for the AAN building.
December 17, 2010: No Association Determination issued to the American Academy of Neurology.
February 16, 2012: Limited No Further Action Determination issued to the American Academy of Neurology.

Institutional controls

Declarations of Restrictions and Covenants, June 12, 2006, amended December 21, 2010, for the portion of the site containing the realigned Chicago Avenue and Ninth Avenue South properties.

Project partners

MPCA VIC staff: Patrice Jensen, Project Manager, and Rick Jolley, Hydrogeologist
Guthrie Theater Ramp redevelopment: Braun Intertec, Earth Tech, City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, McGough Construction, and Bel Air Excavating