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Small business hired for demolition on St. Paul Saints ballpark project that starts Thursday

St. Paul had a small slump, of sorts, in its efforts to build a new minor-league baseball park on the edge of downtown, so city officials were happy to announce that a small business firm has been hired to help demolish the concrete-fortress of a manufacturing plant now sitting on the field site.

The city announced today that Rachel Contracting of St. Michael has been hired by contractor Ryan Cos. “to complete demolition work on the 650,000-square-foot Diamond Products building.”

And interior demolition will start Thursday, city officials said.

A public demolition celebration is scheduled at the site for 1 to 3 p.m. on July 13. I’m hoping Mayor Chris Coleman will say: “Tear down that wall, Mr. Rachel.”

The long-awaited project to replace the Saints’ crumbling stadium in the Midway area has seen bumpy times.

  • It didn’t make the cut for the 2011 or 2012 legislative bonding bill, but at the last minute got a break last spring when the state set up an extra bonding pool that looked to some like a wink-wink deal to help out St. Paul. Then the city only got $25 million from that state pot, less than the $27 million it said was needed.
  • There was a flap when the city awarded a no-bid contract to Ryan last fall; the outcry and a lawsuit caused city officials to open up the contract for bids. Three months later, few were surprised when they announced that Ryan had won the contract.
  • Some downtown residents and business people, led by gallery-owner Bill Hosko, have argued eloquently that the old Gillette building shouldn’t be demolished completely for the ballpark, but instead incorporated into the design. That would add lots of extra parking and make the ballpark more amenable to year-round use. City officials continue to pooh-pooh that idea, and with demolition starting, it appears to be DOA.
  • And early this month, the city announced that the overall price tag of the ballpark was going to be nearly $9 million more than expected because of unexpected clean-up costs and utility work.

So today’s small-business announcement was a bit of good news for the project: more jobs and hiring a small business. Rachel Contracting says it is a certified SBE (Small Business Entity) within the CERT Program encompassing Hennepin County, Ramsey County and the City of St. Paul.

And at first glance this morning, I thought they’d hired a woman-owned company, too: Rachel Contracting.

But the CEO of Rachel Contracting is Don Rachel, and the vice president is Jerry Rachel. There are three women listed among the 16 “team members” — two project coordinators and the payroll/HR supervisor.

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