Minnesota BioBusiness Center


Photo courtesy of Paramark Real Estate Services

The 124,000-square-foot Minnesota BioBusiness Center, at 221 First Avenue Southwest, is an eight-story building strategically located in downtown Rochester. Since completion in 2009, it is poised to feed off the synergy of the adjoining Rochester Business District, Mayo Clinic, University of Minnesota Rochester, and the Urban Village, accommodating research and businesses. As a development with application toward LEED registration: it has a retail/commercial ground floor and seven stories of office space; is connected via skyway to downtown and the Mayo campus; is served by an adjoining 900-space parking ramp; and is finished to provide for constructing additional floors of office space.


In 2007, the site was a business district parking lot comprised of two parcels. The former 219 parcel supported a commercial laundry from 1933 to1963 with dry-cleaning operations from 1960 to1983. The 223 parcel was a hotel and movie theater. Subsurface investigations identified the dry-cleaning solvent tetrachloroethylene and its breakdown compounds in the soil, groundwater and soil gas across the site as well as Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) metals and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) compounds in the fill soils.

Environmental cleanup and redevelopment of the site

  • Five tons of hazardous waste solids and 110 gallons of hazardous-waste-impacted groundwater were disposed of off- site at permitted disposal facilities. Waste was inside and underneath a buried elevator counterweight structure.
  • 4,350 tons of soil impacted with RCRA metals and PAH compounds were excavated and disposed of at a permitted industrial landfill.
  • 20 tons of buried construction debris were disposed of at a permitted landfill.
  • A dual-phase extraction (DPE) system consisting of eight extraction wells was installed in June 2009. The DPE system has removed approximately 3,300 pounds of chlorinated volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the first 14 months of operation and continues to remove chlorinated VOC vapors from the soil and from the impacted groundwater beneath the new building.
  • A 40-mil vapor barrier underlies the new building with a passive venting sub-slab venting system to diminish the vapor-intrusion potential over the long term.
  • DPE system monitoring, and groundwater and vapor monitoring, are continued for risk management.

Environmental and economic benefits

  • The project is a key catalyst for “Building Rochester’s BioBusiness Future through Collaboration.”
  • The state-of-the-art office building supports start-up companies seeking to locate or stay in Rochester, a new biobusiness mecca.
  • Total construction cost exceeded $26.7 million and the property will produce an estimated $326,000 annually in property taxes.

Assurances received

  • May 3, 2007 – No Association Determination for the City of Rochester
  • November 17, 2008 – Limited No Further Action to the City of Rochester for complete soil cleanup

Institutional controls

A Uniform Environmental Covenant is in development, pending final refinement of the risk management plan.

Project partners

  • Developed by the City of Rochester’s Economic Development Authority
  • Building design by Hammel, Green and Abrahamson of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Landmark Environmental LLC, Environmental Consultant
  • MPCA Voluntary Investigation and Cleanup Program personnel include Ed Olson, Project Manager, and Allan Timm, Hydrogeologist.