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Business park ramps up for expansions

The Diversified Manufacturing Corporation building is up for sale or lease after the headquarter and other operations were moved to Prescott, Wis. Katie Nelson / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 2
Modern Automotive Performance will double its building size and undergo a 33 percent increase in employees over the next few years. Katie Nelson / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 2

Major changes are coming to the business park this spring and summer.

One new business — North Star Sheets — will be constructed and opened, Modern Automotive Performance will more than double its physical presence and Diversified Manufacturing is disappearing from the area.

North Star Sheets

North Star Sheets, a corrugated paper manufacturer, is pursuing an aggressive schedule to start construction and production.

Hillcrest Development owns 35 acres on Hemingway Avenue in the business park; Opus Development Company is building North Star Sheets on 12.5 acres of that land.

The rest of is being actively marketed, Economic Development Director Christine Costello said.

The proposed North Star Sheets building will be about 160,000 square feet, and is expected to create 40 to 50 new jobs.

The city is working to fast track the schedule to meet an aggressive schedule they have framed. North Star wants to bring equipment to the site this summer, and needs construction finished by that time.

Phil Cattanach, real estate development director for Opus, provided this statement through a spokesperson:

"We are excited to be advancing the preliminary approval process to bring a new rail-served manufacturing facility for North Star Sheets at Southeast Industrial Park in Cottage Grove. This first phase of the project is the result of a partnership between Hillcrest Development LLLP and Opus, and we look forward to sharing more information in the coming weeks."

The project will be before the planning commission Feb. 26 and the council meeting March 7.

Modern Automotive Performance

Modern Automotive Performance, 9800 Hemingway Ave., has undergone booming growth in the last few years that owner Chris Carey doesn't intend to let slow down.

Carey said Modern Automotive has seen upward of 35 percent growth in each of the last two years.

Launched in 2006, the company is an aftermarket automotive distributor that manufactures parts for specific vehicles. One big opportunity for the company's growth, Carey said, is their recent acquisition of the 2017 Honda Civic to their inventory of vehicles they specialize in.

"We're moving into new niches within the industries," he said. "We like to be a big fish in a small pond."

To make room for this rapid growth, Carey began looking to Prescott, Wis. where his business park neighbor Diversified Manufacturing Corporation migrated to.

"When we moved in five years ago didn't know what to do with the space and now we're jam-packed in there," Carey said.

Instead of having to move into a new building and shift his employees commutes, he decided to find some incentives from the city of Cottage Grove to counter those offered by Prescott.

Cottage Grove is working see if the expansion qualifies for tax increment financing through the city as part of their business subsidy program.

Carey also connected with the Job Creation Fund, a program offered to manufacturing and distribution companies that are poised to add employees. He expects to add 21 new employees over the next three years. Modern Automotive currently employees 44 people.

"It's very exciting and very stressful at the same time," he said. "We had to try and hire pretty rapidly."

He will also be adding 24,000 square feet to the current 20,000 square foot building.

The expansion and TIF will be on the table at the March 13 Economic Development Authority meeting.

Diversified Manufacturing

About a year ago, Diversified Manufacturing Corp. started a slow move across the St. Croix River.

The company first sold its Newport location, which was used for manufacturing, production and shipping divisions at 101 Seventh Ave, to the St. Paul Park refinery.

At the time, the plan was to keep the headquarters in Cottage Grove, while also considering expansion there. Plans have since been altered, and company owner Ram Motilall said all operations are being moved to Prescott.

The old HQ building — next door to Modern Automotive Performance — is now up for sale or rent, and the DMC website officially lists Prescott as the company's headquarters.

Looking to the future

Consulting firm Stantec completed a year-long Areawide Urban Alternative Review in October that analyzed 1,800 acres of land south of Highway 61 in the business park area.

Stantec made growth estimates using permits filed in the city between 1998 and 2017 as well as growth in similar cities.

Based on the study, they estimate there to be about a 420-acre distribution or technology center in the business park by 2040, south of 100th Street.

The area between 100th and Highway 61 is expected to fill out more completely with industrial companies. The city also expects to place a water facility treatment facility in this area, just east of Jamaica Avenue and south of Highway 61.

About 60 acres of the 1,800 acre swath is set to remain agricultural preserve as part of environmental mitigation.

The AUAR also can speed up the approval process up front, since the study will include environmental impact, noise, traffic, air pollution, stormwater and groundwater analyses.

This allows individual businesses to skip its required environmental assessment.

The study connects with the city-planning document, the 2040 Comprehensive Plan, due to the Metropolitan Council later this year.

With the Diversified Manufacturing building up for sale or lease and the lots near the planned North Star Sheets being actively marketed, the business park could continue to fill quickly.