Stadium Village apts. to replace polluted ground

The new complex will be located on Delaware Street Southeast and Huron Boulevard.

Jennifer Bissell

What was once polluted ground will soon be the foundation for a new green apartment complex in Stadium Village.

Before 1890, land at the intersection of Delaware Street Southeast and Huron Boulevard âÄî where preparations for the new Solhaus complex are underway âÄî was a bulk petroleum storage facility for a rail line, and it left a legacy of polluted and contaminated soil.

In Stadium Village, especially behind TCF Bank Stadium, past land use left much of the soil needing to be “capped” with asphalt, or excavated.

At the site of the planned Solhaus complex, previously a parking lot, construction workers are about to fill in the last of the new soil transported to the worksite, which was once a Gopher Oil Superfund site.

“Philosophically, it has been a really interesting test,” Solhaus owner Curt Gunsbury said. “How do you do really careful construction on a tight urban site that still cleans up the mistakes of the past?”

Roughly 11,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil was removed from the location and will either be transported to a soil treatment facility or, in more severe cases, incinerated. The soil was excavated to a depth of 25 feet.

“We think students deserve green housing,” Gunsbury said. “Just like everybody else does.”

The cost of excavating the site was paid for by roughly $1 million from the Environmental Response Fund and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Next week, developers will lay the foundation for Solhaus. The complex is planned to open August 2011.

The six-story, 75-unit complex will feature rain barrel irrigation, organic trash disposal, an on-site rental car and green roofs. Rent will range from approximately $1,000 a month for a studio to $2,000 a month for a two-bedroom apartment.

William Cunningham, an emeritus professor at the University of Minnesota who taught environmental science and biology from 1965 to 2002, said he was excited to invest in another Solhaus Associates project.

The same group built a similar complex, Solhem, in Uptown in 2009.

“Each building makes an impact,” Cunningham said. “Everything we can do to reduce energy consumption and water use and make the building more environmentally sustainable is a good thing.”

Cunningham said he was happy about the University community being able to use the apartments.

“ItâÄôs an education in itself to live in a building and see what can be done,” Cunningham said.

Elizabeth Turner, a graduate student at the UniversityâÄôs School of Architecture, agreed.

“I think thereâÄôs generally an interest among students to learn about how these different [sustainable] systems can be integrated in a building,” Turner said.

As an officer for Greenlight, a student group promoting sustainable design, Turner said she appreciated that the developers were not “green washing” the building with sustainable products, but that the buildingâÄôs architecture itself was sustainable. Turner cited the south-facing windows to capture sunlight in tandem with the nontoxic paint as examples.

“ItâÄôs nice to see that thereâÄôs a development thatâÄôs looking a little bit more holistically [at] the lifestyle of the student,” Turner said. “It looks like a place IâÄôd like to live, and I think it makes a sustainable lifestyle possible, attractive and easy.”