A project to clean up a contaminated industrial site and construct a four-story office building along the Paint Creek moved forward on Monday, July 10, as Rochester City Council members unanimously approved a site plan and special projects request from developer Frank Rewold and Son.
Rewold, who owns the Royal Park Hotel and existing offices on the east side of the Paint Creek between E. 2nd Street and E. University Drive, is proposing a 45,000 square-foot office building at 400 Water Street, on the west side of the creek. The office building would be next to Rochester Mills building, which was purchased by Rewold in 1997. The project includes brownfield redevelopment to bring at least $2 million in environmental cleanup in the area, as well as improvements to the Rochester Lions Park, just north of the Mills Building, and enhancements along the creek bank.
Rochester Economic Development Director Nik Banda said the building and clean-up are a phase in what is expected to be a campus project planned by Rewold that would extend from his Mills building south to E. 3rd Street. Rewold has said plans to develop the corner property at Water Street and E. 3rd are in the works, but Rewold was not yet ready to announce what that development would entail.
"Without saying too much, there are two projects that have been narrowed down for the corner that would be awesome," Rewold said at a May 5 planning commission meeting. "They would be different uses than our office. Different densities and use at different times."
Banda said the proposed office project itself will provide much desired office space close to the downtown area, and serve to clean-up the longstanding industrial contamination in that area that has hampered development there.
Contamination at the site stems from historic industrial uses at the Western Knitting Mills building in the 1940s, after the knitting corporation dissolved. It was later purchased by McAleer Manufacturing, which was the largest producer of flash bombs and flares in the United States during World War II. It was later used by ITT Automotive, which produced automotive push rods and tubing until 1994. Today, the site has contaminated soils with lead and trichlorethylene, according to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
Contamination at the site over the years has migrated to the Paint Creek, forcing ITT to work with the DEQ to build an underground containment wall and install monitoring walls to ensure pollutants aren't continuing to reach the creek. While Rewold purchased the site in 1997, ITT is responsible for environmental monitoring at the site. However, the former industrial manufacturer isn't required to conduct remediation at the site, which is needed before it can be developed, and rests with the city of Rochester....continued on page 2