Updated: 06/06/2014 8:16 PM
Created: 06/06/2014 5:39 PM KSTP.com
By: Cassie Hart
Arden Hills can't wait to usher in a new era. On Friday, on the 70th anniversary of D-Day, dozens of people celebrated a new phase of work at the old Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant: the near-completion of building demolition on the 427-acre site.
During the 1940's, 26,000 people were employed there, making bullets for the Allied troops in World War II. The facility continued to operate on a much smaller scale through the end of last century. Then it fell into disrepair, and the soil became contaminated.
The site was nearly chosen as home for the new Minnesota Vikings' new stadium, but when plans fell through, Ramsey County purchased the property last year.
In a year's time, 43 of the 44 buildings have now been demolished, and environmental cleanup has been completed on nearly 100 acres. The rest should be complete by next year.
City, county, and state leaders say redevelopment plans are next. Katie Clark Sieben, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development says the site is one of the most sought-after in the state for business development. An announcement as to what businesses might locate there is expected later this year.
Still, some former employees at the old plant admit they'll miss it. Jerry LeGarde worked there in the 1980's. He met his wife there, and together they're about to celebrate their 30th anniversary.
As another former employee put it, "Kind of sad to see all this go down, but time goes on."