Control Data Australia Memories compiled by Brian Membrey

CDC : The Plant That Never Was

"CONTROL DATA  :Control Data Corp., fast-growing Minneapolis producer of electronic computers, Thursday announced plans to build a $1,500,000 plant and headquarters building in Roseville. The company has enter a purchase agreement to acquire a 25-acre site at the south-west corner oh Highway 36 and Fairview ave. subject to rezoning of the site to industrial use. Control Data plans to start construction of the initial building (right) of 100,000 square feet early in 1961. In about 1963, the second 100,000 square-foot unit would be added.  The firm's headquarters and a portion of its computer division operations will be moved to the first Roseville unit from 501 Park Ave., Minneapolis"  Minneapolis Morning Tribune, Friday, Nov. 4., 1960

“… subject to rezoning of the site to industrial use” was the proverbial “fly in the ointment”.

News of the move was leaked to the press on October 18 after a hearing in Minneapolis on Northwest Bank Corporation's application to acquire a national bank in Roseville. During the hearing, the Mayor Emil F Cedarhome of Roseville, in testifying in favour of the bank's application described Control Data's plan.  The Corporation initially refused to confirm the plan, but other Roseville sources revealed that CDC was intending to build on 25 acres acquired from Allied Stores Inc.

Despite a number of announcements, Control Data Corporation’s plans for Roseville were abandoned in late February of the following year after concerted action by a group of around 30 residents whose properties bordered the site.  

The rezoning had the blessing of the Roseville Mayor and had been approved by the Planning Commission (6-1) and the Roseville Council (5-0) and an earlier application by residents to stop the rezoning had been dismissed by a County District Judge who ruled that his court had no jurisdiction over the matter, but conditions sought by the residents group via a potential new court action were considered untenable for the construction to proceed.

"Roseville Mayor, Emil F Cedarholm, who was been working to bring high tax paying industries into the community blasted the protesting residents for "depriving the taxpayers of millions of dollars Roseville would have collected from Control Data. I do not blame a gilt-edged firm like that for not wanting to take small-town guff from a small pressure group", he declared.

Roseville councilman Jim Shields said "I think it's a dirty shame that a dozen people in our community can put on enough pressure to force Control Data out of here".

Mr Thomas Macy, 2095 Midlothian Drive (below), one of the protesting residents denied his group had forced the plant out..

"Control Data is a fine firm; we're sorry to see it go. But we felt the location was bad because of the homes and schools in the area" There is no industry south of Hwy. 36". "The whole thing was handed badly by the council. The mayor tried to shove this thing down our throats", he said, adding that the residents “felt the the plant should been located north of Hwy. 36 on land already zoned industrial”.

James Harris, Control Data's representative later stated "It is not our intention to force our way into Roseville.  Frankly, we don't have to - several other communities are still interested in having us".  Harris estimated the firm would have contributed around $100,000 to the Roseville tax base, probably increasing to around a quarter million "within a few years".

A quick check via Google Maps suggests that Roseville is about 10-12 kilometres to the north-east of the original McGill Building offices at 501 Park Avenue - oddly enough, the eventual site in Bloomington was also exactly the same distance to the south-west, the two sites probably 22-24 kilometres apart and both in relatively undeveloped suburds.  Minneapolis was around 40% of the size of Melbourne - from the western side of the Bay, an arc stretching from Altona through Sunshine, Reservoir, Rosanna, Balwyn, Glenhuntly and Hampton is approximately equidistant in local terms


AN architect’s impression of the proposed Roseville facility.

It seems unlikely that the Cedar Engineering subsidiary was to be included.

The later Bloomington project established CDC in a similar size building to that proposed for Roseville and another for Cedar Engineering in a separate 75,000 square-feet facility, also in Bloomington, but around 4 kilometres away from the CDC location.

The site proposed for the Roseville plant was described as the eastern side of the intersection of Fairview Avenue North and County B Road West

LEFT : The site proposed for CDC on the residential (southern) side of Highway 36. The area was approximately 500 metres from the Highway - there are now two other shopping plazas just off the top of the image including a Walmart.

RIGHT: Closer image; although not marked, the area between the park and Midlothian Road is the Roseville Elementary School

BELOW: 2095 Midlothian Road, approximate location shown right and approximately 500 metres from Fairview Avenue. Thomas Macy wasn’t in when I called!