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Duluth, MN turned brownfield with 4,000 tons of contaminated soil into a new craft brewery

City of Duluth

Duluth, MN

To properly develop its Canal Park commercial business district, the city of Duluth needed to address the brownfield that had been left untouched for several years. With the help of local non-profit and entrepreneurs, the city was able to clean up the land and redevelop it into a brewery and walking path.

Topics Covered

Redevelopment & Brownfields


Initial: 600 Thousand USD


State and local grants

Project Status

Operational since 2012

Gov Champion

Pollution Control Agency

Problem Addressed

An industrial site sat vacant and polluted amidst the City of Duluth's redevelopment of the Canal Park commercial business district, a trendy retail, commercial and restaurant area.

With over 4,000 tons of contaminated soil by lead, PAH, and petroleum, the land represented great financial risk, and banks were left skeptical. "Banks wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole," said Rockie Kavajecz, a co-owner of Canal Park Brewing and member of 300 Canal Park LLC.

This left the community with contaminated land that couldn't earn financial assistance. If they were to build Duluth into the "Craft Beer Capital of Minnesota," the city needed to purchase the land and learn about redeveloping brownfields.

Solutions Used

The city was able to address the deserted dump with the help of Minnesota Brownfields, a local non-profit focused on promoting the efficient cleanup and reuse of contaminated land to generate economic growth, strengthen communities and enable sustainable land use.

One of the organization's main functions is uniting different groups involved in brownfield redevelopment with critical information on overcoming the technical and legal challenges related to cleanups.

Eventually the industrial site was purchased by 300 Canal Park LLC, a group of local entrepreneurs with plans to build Duluth into a craft beer hot spot, beginning the cleanup process. In cleanup, the team removed 4,000 tons of contaminated soil and properly disposed of it. The site was backfilled with nonimpacted soil and site grade was raised about four feet to level the site.

Minnesota Brownfields was crucial in this effort, as they provided necessary insight into brownfield redevelopment and helped 300 Canal Park LLC secure local and state grants. “Getting help understanding how to clean up the site was the difference between doing or not doing the project,” Kavajecz said.

Together, Minnesota Brownfields, the city, and 300 Canal Park LLC redeveloped the brownfields to build the Canal Park Brewing Company, a brewhub and restaurant. Accompanying the restaurant is an outdoor seating area along the Lake Walk for all community members and tourists to enjoy.



A beautified lot and restaurant for all community members and visitors to enjoy while in Duluth


Removal of contaminated soil across the whole site, managing risks and allowing new building development


Creation of 70 full and part-time jobs after the opening of the brewery


Increased sales tax revenue for the city and property tax revenue for the county

Something Unique

The Canal Park redevelopment was one of the four projects honored by the Minnesota Brownfields' ReScape Awards, which honor projects demonstrating innovation, collaboration, and exemplary results in revitalizing formerly contaminated land.

Who Should Consider

Communities with contaminated land and/or brownfields that they're looking to redevelop.

Last Updated

Mar 18th, 2022
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