Frequently Asked Questions
How much did it cost to purchase the Rice Creek Commons site, and who paid for it?
In 2013, Ramsey County purchased 427 acres of the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant (TCAAP) property in Arden Hills from the US Government. The sale price for the land was $28 million. The cost of the environmental cleanup of the site, $22.6M, was included in this sale price. After environmental cleanup costs, the county paid approximately $4.8 million for the site. The site purchase was financed with $21.4 million in bonding, $2 million in contingency funds, and a $6 million transfer from Ramsey County’s solid waste fund.
What development is planned for Rice Creek Commons?
The Rice Creek Commons master plan lays out a vision for the site. The master plan consists of two documents: the TCAAP Redevelopment Code and the TCAAP Regulating Plan. TCAAP Redevelopment Code (TRC) is the zoning code that describes the permitted land uses in different zoning districts, as well as design standards and other regulations relating to land development. The TCAAP Regulating Plan (PDF) is a zoning map that shows the zoning of different areas of the site.
These documents were the result of comprehensive community engagement processes, and they ensure that the development will be in line with the vision set forth by the City of Arden Hills and Ramsey County (as property owner). The exact development plan is not yet determined, but will be guided by these documents.
When will development at Rice Creek Commons begin?
The TCAAP Joint Development Authority (JDA) is working with partners to determine a development plan. The primary items that need to be addressed prior to drafting an updated development timeline, include project financing, housing density, and infrastructure coordination.
When was environmental cleanup completed? Is it safe to buy property at Rice Creek Commons?
Cleanup of the Rice Creek Commons portion of the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant (TCAAP) in Arden Hills was completed in November 2015. The county cleaned the property beyond minimum standards to allow for residential or recreational use – the highest standard of environmental remediation.
This environmental cleanup work was verified by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) through its Voluntary Investigation and Cleanup (VIC) program and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The site received a Certificate of Completion, verifying the completion of all environmental remediation, from the MPCA in 2016. The EPA and MPCA removed soil and surface water from the federal Superfund list (National Priorities List) on September 23, 2019, and the state Superfund list (Permanent List of Priorities) on April 22, 2020.
What happens if additional environmental cleanup is necessary?
The US Army is responsible for any additional environmental cleanup. Deep groundwater contamination remains on the former TCAAP property. The on-site treatment system for deep groundwater pumps contaminated groundwater and sends it to a treatment system. The Army will continue to be responsible for groundwater treatment until cleanup goals are achieved and groundwater is delisted from the National Priorities List. Because this contamination is deep underground and being actively treated and cleaned, it does not pose any human or ecological health risk at Rice Creek Commons and does not restrict the development or use of the property.
For more information on past and current cleanup, please refer to the MPCA TCAAP site.
Will there be affordable housing on the Rice Creek Commons site?
Ramsey County is committed to building an inclusive economy that offers housing infrastructure at every income level. Together with the JDA, the vision for Rice Creek Commons will include rental and ownership opportunities including apartments, townhomes, and single-family homes at income levels accessible to the diverse needs of new and emerging residents of the County. There are many local, state, and federal programs that could be used to finance affordable housing at Rice Creek Commons. Rather than the County or City owning and operating housing itself, the County will work with developers who specialize in building and managing affordable, mixed-income, and market-rate housing developments. The county also offers down payment assistance for eligible first-time homebuyers.
What is the AUAR and why does the City of Arden Hills need to update it for this project?
The Alternative Urban Areawide Review (AUAR) process is a hybrid of the Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) review processes. Responsible governmental units (RGU) can use an AUAR as a planning tool to understand how different development scenarios will affect the environment of their community before the development occurs. The process is designed to look at the cumulative impacts of anticipated development scenarios within a given geographic area.
The original AUAR for TCAAP was completed in 2014, and an update was completed in 2019. AUARs need to be updated every five years until a project begins construction. The deadline for the next AUAR is 2024, but it could be completed prior to the deadline. An updated AUAR will help decision makers understand how assumptions may have changed since the last update and take into account any updated development scenarios.
How can I get updates about the project?
The website for the project is RiceCreekCommons.com.
Project updates will also be occasionally distributed through a newsletter. Sign-up to receive the latest information.
The Joint Development Authority (JDA) meets the first Monday of every other month, with additional work sessions scheduled as needed. Agendas are posted prior to the meetings, the meetings are televised, and minutes are posted online afterward.
The city of Arden Hills also provides updates on city processes related to the project.