City of Albert Lea wins award for development

(ABC 6 News) – The City of Albert Lea recently won an award for the success and completion of a development project.

The City won a Community Impact Award for the Front Street Apartments project at the Blazing Star Landing. The award highlights the $1.26 million cleanup of 3.4 acres that cleared the way for a private developer to build the $5.9 million apartment complex.

After sitting vacant for two decades because of soil contamination, a state grant made cleanup feasible with the city providing additional funding.

“This project is truly a story of rising from the ashes. A little over 20 years ago, a meat-processing plant caught fire and burned on this site. Hundreds of jobs went with it. Today, our community has turned around and now needs housing for hundreds of open jobs,” said City Planner Megan Boeck when receiving the award from Minnesota Brownfields, a non-profit that works to clean up contaminated sites for economic growth.

“Thankfully, a better story became a reality with the help of many partners, including the private developer who bought the land, built the apartments and looks to add more. We thank Unique Opportunities — the developer that came to Albert Lea and saw this property not for what it was but for what it could be.”

The City intends to keep going. At its April 24 meeting, the Albert Lea City Council approved an agreement with Braun Intertec for additional cleanup at the Blazing Star Landing to prepare for future housing of approximately 96 more rental units.

The State of Minnesota is providing a $465,345 grant toward the $870,000 cleanup. Testing the soil for contaminants is complete with expected remediation in late summer or early fall. The goal is to have the 4.5-acre site ready for housing construction in 2024.