Contamination prompts change in Superior land sale agreement

City officials will set aside $50,000 from the purchase price to address remediation after petroleum was discovered at the Bernick's site in North End.

The Government Center in Superior.
The Government Center in Superior.
Jed Carlson / File / Superior Telegram

SUPERIOR — The city’s Redevelopment Authority amended a purchase agreement that will allow Chas. A. Bernick Inc. to close on the sale of property its leased since 2019.

On Monday, Feb. 27, the authority agreed to place $50,000 from the $221,000 purchase price into escrow in the event that it's needed to address contamination found at the nearly three-acre site at 1606 N. Sixth St.

Bernick’s environmental investigation of the site came up with contamination from petroleum, which is typical from fill and activities that occurred in North End historically, said Jason Serck, economic development, port and planning director.

The finding prompted the city to negotiate with the company to provide financial assurance that as Bernick’s moves ahead with what it is required to do by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources the company won’t bear the full cost.

Under the city’s original lease agreement, which dates back to 1997 when the city issued the lease as incentive to build Northwest Beverages, Serck said the city would have been responsible for the entire expense.


Bernick’s purchased the business in 2019.

Under the terms of the amended agreement, $50,000 from the purchase price will be placed into escrow with Bernick’s title insurer at the time of closing for the purpose of remediation required by the DNR. If the DNR doesn’t require Bernick’s to perform any remediation at the property within 12 months of the closing date, then all of the escrowed funds would be returned to the city.

If remediation is required, those costs would be paid by with the escrowed funds and any remaining balance would be returned to the city.

Superior’s share of those costs wouldn’t exceed $50,000, and Bernick’s would be responsible for costs exceeding $50,000, according to the agreement.

“I thought this was a pretty good deal,” Serck said. “I’ve looked at other projects that we have done in North End; they really haven’t hit that threshold. It’s been more site investigation and more monitoring than anything.”

Even in a worst-case scenario, where contaminants would have to be capped or removed, Serck said the city would still clear $171,000 from the sale, expected to close in mid-March.

The city council will consider the amended purchase agreement at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 7 in Room 201 of the Government Center.

Shelley Nelson is a reporter with the Duluth Media Group since 1997, and has covered Superior and Douglas County communities and government for the Duluth News Tribune from 1999 to 2006, and the Superior Telegram since 2006. Contact her at 715-395-5022 or
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