ARDEN HILLS, MN-The General Services Administration plans tohold an auction by the end of August to dispose of 430 acres offormer Army base property to the private sector. The site, a goodchunk of the 2,400-acre former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant,is being marketed by the GSA as Northern Pointe.

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The problem is that the demand is questionable. Last year inMay, Ryan Cos. pulled out of a plan to develop more than 580 acreswith the city for $45 million, citing problems with pollutionclean-up and economic uncertainty, prompting the GSA to go with anauction for the site. Ramsey County and the Minnesota NationalGuard took more than 150 acres for parkland and other uses, leavingthe 430.

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On Monday, the City Council voted to limit development on theproperty to not more than 1,500 units of housing and 2.2 millionsquare feet of commercial development. However, it’s not that thecouncil wouldn’t take more, it’s that the land, formerly used forArmy training and small ammunition manufacturing, doesn’t have goodenough drive-up access. “The level of development is contingent onplanned improvements in infrastructure,” says James Lehnhoff,community development director for the city. The roads leading into the property aren’t built to handle much traffic, he says.

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A buyer would also need to pay for ground contamination,Lehnhoff says, while the government would foot the bill to clean upwater pollution on the site. Even Ryan’s plan had allowed someenvironmental credits, he says.

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The director says he’s not sure demand exists for newdevelopment, though the area has businesses such as BostonScientific, Land O’Lakes and Medtronic. “Every market is soft rightnow,” Lehnhoff says. The local population is about 10,000, “withabout 13,000 jobs here,” he says.

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Jones Lang LaSalle is helping the GSA market the property. A JLLofficial could not return a comment in time for this story.

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