By Burl Gilyard
As football stadium speculation swirls around an expansive site in Arden Hills, one thing remains unchanged: The property is still owned by the federal government.
Neither Ramsey County nor the city of Arden Hills have control of the land, the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant site.
On Tuesday afternoon, a spokeswoman for the U.S. General Services Administration said the agency — the real estate manager for the federal government — is preparing to put the 430-acre site up for bids.
“Right now where we’re at in the process is finalizing the invitation for bid,” said Paula Santangelo, a spokeswoman in the Boston office of the GSA. “We’re not conducting an auction; we’re having a sealed bid sale.”
The site is owned by the U.S. Army.
Santangelo said the information could be posted by the end of March on the GSA’s property disposition website. She said the government will have a minimum bid for the land but declined to comment on the price.
“There will be a suggested minimum bid, yes … that will be posted right up front,” Santangelo said.
Renewed talk of a formal bidding process is frustrating to Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett, who has been championing an effort to build a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings on the Arden Hills site.
Bennett said the county is unlikely to enter a bidding war for the property.
“If the price gets too high, we’re not interested. They haven’t sold it in seven, eight years … the golden goose disappears when the Legislature quits in May. June is too late,” Bennett said.
He noted that several other potential stadium sites are in play.
The Minnesota Vikings have previously said they are weighing five potential sites for a new stadium, including the Arden Hills location. Although the team has not confirmed every site, three others are believed to be in downtown Minneapolis, including the current site of the Metrodome. A site in Brooklyn Park has also been floated. But there remains no stadium bill at the Legislature and no overall financing plan.
“The Army needs to know that this isn’t the only site they’re looking at,” Bennett said. “Maybe the Army ought to think about that. If I were the Army, I’d sell.”
There has been previous talk of putting the property up for bids, but it has never hit the market. The site has been dubbed Northern Pointe, for marketing purposes. The GSA has also tapped the Chicago-based commercial real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle to assist with the marketing.
“It’s a very technical property with a lot of components that need to be addressed financially and environmentally,” Santangelo said.
Environmental issues on the land, a designated federal Superfund site, are extensive.
The city of Arden Hills made an offer to buy the site in 2006 for a major mixed-use redevelopment. That deal unraveled when Minneapolis-based Ryan Companies US Inc. withdrew from the project.
Bennett said it is a challenging site in what remains a tough economy.
“The word I heard is that nobody was interested,” Bennett said of efforts to sell the site. “There’s nobody out there today that’s willing to put up any money for it. They’ve had a hard time. It’s old abandoned buildings … it’s not an attractive site.”
But for his part, Bennett remains optimistic.
“I’m fairly confident that they’ll work with us,” Bennett said. “I think this is a hell of a chance for them to unload a piece of property that they want to unload.”
let the army ( us taxpayers)know that there are other sites that want the vikings and they are lucky to find anyone that will take that abandoned property. If they don’t like it,let another suburb have the Vikings stadium, there are many sites in the twin cities that would love to have that stadium in their town.