For years, the Amcast Industrial Corp. properties have flanked Hamilton Road at Johnson Street, vacant and slowly crumbling. Neighbors considered the parcels an eyesore and public safety officials warned it was a threat to those who went into the plant.
Now, thanks to the ambitions of a Mequon environmental firm president, the eyesore is slowly being transformed into what will include apartments, commercial and office space.
Developer DJ Burns of Drake Consulting Group updated the Cedarburg Common Council recently on the progress being made at what is technically known as tax incremental financing district No. 4.
Amcast was an automotive die-casting industry supplier in Cedarburg from 1939 until 2004, when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and then again in 2005.
The News Graphic reported in 2015 that the Environmental Protection Agency said the property required expensive remediation. Reports indicated one plant may have emptied toxic PCBs from hydraulic fluids and cutting and grinding oils used into Cedar Creek through storm sewers. The compounds emptied into Hamilton Pond upstream of Green Bay Road, according to the EPA documents.
Over the last six years, Burns said he’s been working with the city to develop a plan that would allow the environmental contamination at the site to be abated and remediated to allow future development on the site.
There are two parcels, which equal up to 8 acres: the north parcel on Hamilton Road is the former factory and the southern parcel, which on the corner of Hamilton Road and Johnson Street. North of the Department of Public Works is the former office building of Amcast.
Burns said they have completed 80 percent of demolition of the 116,000-square-foot factory.
“That was our planned endeavor as we worked with the DNR and EPA on the demolition and razing of that facility so that we could get at the contaminated soil throughout underneath the factory,” he said. “That portion of the phase will be occurring over the next two to four years at various portions of the property.”
Burns added that the front facade of the factory facing Hamilton Road will be coming down in the next few weeks.
There is a basement on the northern parcel that Burns hopes to use for underground parking to fit approximately 100 cars. Burns reported that some areas of the south and north parcels are cleared for new development or rehabilitation on the existing buildings.
“Throughout the next couple of years, you’ll see the completion of the demolition on the north side along with the construction of new multi-housing facilities on the south side of the property after those are approved by the Plan Commission and other committees. The 20,000-square-foot facility on the southeast corner of the north parcel will be converted into some form of commercial office space in the future. "That’s the only area that’s going to remain as it is,” Burns said.
The office building is under renovation – Burns said a new roof will be placed by the end of October or early November with hope of occupancy sometime in 2020. Burns is planning on relocating Drake’s headquarters to the existing office building.
The Quonset hut that used to be located on the southern parcel has been demolished and razed completely.
Burns is also working with the DNR and EPA for the cleanup of Wilshire Pond, the Quarry Pond in Zeunert Park and nearby residential areas that may have been affected by the past operations.
“EPA will probably be taking the primary lead on most of those activities while I’ll be responsible for the actual remediation and cleanup of the Amcast site,” Burns said. He mentioned the recent Cedar Creek cleanup, “I would expect from or hope that our work here at the Amcast facility may trigger the expenditure at the federal level of about $10-or $20 million of Superfunds to hopefully clean up the Wilshire Pond area, the quarry area as well as the adjoining neighborhoods.”
When asked if there were any hiccups in the project Burns said there hasn’t been anything major, just some administrative delay.
An EPA spokesperson said the site is fund-led, meaning that the government will incur the costs of site cleanup. They added that a proposed plan is scheduled to come out in early 2020 for public comment, which will include a schedule of when things should be done.