City and developer plan cleanup for North East Chemical site
by Chuck Hoven

(Plain Press, December 2005) The contaminated former North East Chemical plant’s site at the southeast corner of Fulton and Monroe Avenue may someday get cleaned-up.

The city of Cleveland Community Development Department and private developer, West Monroe, LLC have teamed up to submit to the state of Ohio a $283,000 Clean Ohio Assistance Fund grant application. If funded, the grant would pay for an environmental analysis of the site and the development of a remedial plan for site cleanup.

At a November 15 community meeting at St. Ignatius High School’s Xavier Center on W. 30th and Lorain Avenue, West Monroe, LLC’s Mike McBride told a small group of neighborhood residents that environmental contamination of the site makes it unfeasible to develop the site on a private basis. West Monroe has an option to purchase the property. West Monroe plans to complete the environmental analysis of the site and apply for additional government funds for cleanup before committing to purchase the property from current owner, Brandon Partners.

McBride said he and his partners in West Monroe, John Carney and Robert Rains, would like to build 73 units of housing on the 7.3 acres site if the site could be cleaned up for residential use or modified residential use at a reasonable cost. He noted that, while cleaning up the property for industrial use would be less expensive, residents of the neighborhood have indicated their desire that the site not continue as an industrial site. He added that the partners are experienced residential developers with a number of completed developments in Cleveland.

Tom Gillespie of GETCO, Inc., which will perform the environmental analysis of the site, said his company will use the State of Ohio Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Voluntary Action Plan guidelines to determine “how clean the property needs to be for residential use.”

McBride said cleaning up to state guidelines will assure that the land is safe for future residents. “If I’m going to tell someone it is a good place to live, I want to do due diligence to make sure that is true.”

McBride said a preliminary timeline calls for the environmental analysis to be complete and the funding for cleanup to be secured by the end of 2006. If all goes as planned, the current owners will demolish the structures on the property, cleanup the property and transfer the title to West Monroe sometime in 2007. McBride says he would like to consider saving one building on the property, a historic brick building facing Monroe.

Two businesses are currently leasing the proposed development site, one that stores furniture and one that repairs vehicles. The last industrial tenant of the site, North East Chemical, recycled solvents for use as cement kiln fuel until it closed the plant in 2000 after going bankrupt. The company was on the site since 1983.

The site has been in industrial use since 1932 when Dobeckman Company produced cellophane there. In 1957 Dow Chemical took over the site and produced plastic wrap there. In 1973 American Can Company used the site for production of synthetic containers. The proposed clean-up will address possible toxins left in the ground and ground water by all the previous tenants of the site.

 

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