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City agency buying key 3M land for redevelopment efforts

The 3M company — which grew to international prominence from its early days on St. Paul’s East Side — will sell 35 acres of that land along the new Phalen Corridor to the St. Paul Port Authority.

The land includes the site of the company’s headquarters from 1910 to 1962. 3M — which over the years has moved much of its Minnesota operations from St. Paul to Maplewood — has been trying to sell the land since 2006.

The Port, a public corporation charged originally with overseeing riverfront commerce (hence the Port name) and now active also in creating jobs in St. Paul and the East Metro,  will redevelop the property, with a goal of creating many new jobs.

The Phalen Corridor was a high-profile,10-year redevelopment initiative to reclaim industrial land just northeast of downtown St. Paul. More than 60 sponsors funded the effort, which included construction of a new road connecting the East Side to near downtown. The plan also included the clean-up of several industrial sites that cleared the way for several new office buildings and housing developments.

Ken Johnson, Port Authority president, said the Port Authority will pay $3.5 million for the 35-acre parcel. The Port Authority has an option to buy an additional 10 acres, which includes two buildings — still occupied by 3M —  at Reaney Avenue and Arcade Street. Terms are not yet set on that parcel.

At a news conference today announcing the land sale, Johnson said: 

“We’re pleased to be able to continue the incredible revitalization process that was sparked by the development of the Phalen Corridor with this project. We will focus our efforts now on redeveloping this site to fit the character of the East Side and attract the types of businesses that will offer good-paying jobs to East Siders.”

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman also lauded the transaction:

“The sale of this land opens new doors of opportunity to bring good-paying jobs to the city’s East Side. For all of us who have worked more than a decade on the Phalen Corridor, that has been our mission. … This agreement gives us the land to meet the needs of growing enterprises while leaving 3M a good legacy for a corporation that has grown up in St. Paul.”

St. Paul East Side, which covers about a third of the city, has been economically hard hit in recent years along its industrial corridors. That area saw the loss of well-paying jobs following the exodus of several major employers, including a major Whirlpool factory and the shuttering of the Stroh/Hamm’s brewery.

In 2007, 3M closed a tape plant on the site, moving 100 jobs to Knoxville, Iowa, and Springfield, Mo., as it prepared to sell the land.

Earlier this year, a spokesperson told the Business Journal that about 1,000 engineers and call-center workers still work on the site but that it will be gone by mid-2009.

At the time, 3M told the Business Journal that no pollution or environmental problems had been found on the property.

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