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One of the most blighted plots of land in Wauwatosa is likely to be cleaned up, capped and built on under plans moving through the city approval process.

The rubble foundation of the former Western Metals plant, off State Street, north of the Grede Foundry and east of Walgreens, is the site eyed by developer Wangard Partners for a $24 million, six-building, 169-unit apartment complex.

It’s hard to overstate the challenges associated with the site. Wangard Vice President Anthony DeRosa, in a presentation to the Budget and Finance Committee last week, said consulting group Sigma placed it in the top 10 percent of dirtiest sites in the Milwaukee area.

DeRosa enumerated the challenges. He pointed to the unavoidable view of Grede Foundry next door, not the handsomest building for residents to look at; the site’s proximity to the Schoonmaker Reef, a national historic treasure that, while not ugly, can’t be encroached on by development; and, most pernicious, extensive soil and groundwater contamination left from its Western Metals past.

That contamination includes lead, hydraulic oils, chlorinated solvents, and, likely, petroleum, DeRosa said.

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