Met Council grants funds for Whittier cleanup

The Metropolitan Council has approved a $517,000 grant to clean up the old Despatch Laundry site at 113 E. 26th St. in Whittier.

The laundry closed its doors in 1986, and it became tax-forfeited property in 1994. It has since been leveled. The two-thirds-acre parcel, which has also contained gas stations, has a long history of hazardous waste management violations and is listed as one of the state’s most contaminated sites. Currently, it’s on the federal Superfund list. The polluted soil contains elements of perchloroethylene, a dry-cleaning solvent, and also petroleum-related compounds.

Budget cuts made the site ineligible for federal money, but Hennepin County secured funds from the state and Met Council, as well as its own Environmental Defense fund.

"Part of our remediation is going to be to excavate the top four feet of soil and take it away," said Hennepin County property management specialist Harold Troup, whose office gets tax-forfeited properties back on the tax rolls.

"We’ll then put in an active venting system by digging wells into the hot spots and pump the air through activated carbon filters until all the contamination is removed. We’re going to literally suck it out of the soil and then the replace the soil."

The Despatch site has been earmarked for a development called "Corson’s Corner," a 4,500-square-foot project that will include a three-story, 15-unit condo with mixed commercial use and a surface parking lot. Building cannot start until the polluted land is mitigated.

Hennepin County officials estimate that once the building is completed, it will generate $458,500 in new tax revenues per year.