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EPA Announces the Selection of 2 Communities to Receive more than $1,300,000 in Funding for Brownfields Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup Grants to Address Contaminated Properties in the Detroit Area

06/05/2019
Contact Information: 
Rachel Bassler (Bassler.rachel@epa.gov)
312-886-7159

For Immediate Release: No. 19-OPA032

DETROIT – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing that two communities in the Detroit area have been selected to receive grant awards totaling $1,336,742 in EPA Brownfields funding through our Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup (MAC) Grant Programs. These funds will aid under-served and economically disadvantaged communities in opportunity zones and other parts of the country in assessing and cleaning up abandoned industrial and commercial properties. Forty percent of the communities selected for funding will receive assistance for the first time.

“These grants fulfill several of President Trump’s top priorities simultaneously: helping communities in need transform contaminated sites into community assets that not only create jobs and jumpstart economic development but also improve public health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “We are targeting these funds to areas that need them the most. Approximately 40 percent of the selected recipients are receiving Brownfields grants for the first time, which means we are reaching areas that may previously been neglected, and 108 of the selected communities have identified sites or targeted areas for redevelopment that fall within Opportunity Zones.”

“Many communities are ready to move forward with redevelopment, they just lack the funding to get started,” said EPA Regional Administrator Cathy Stepp. “Our Brownfields grants can jump-start the process and provide much-needed support to begin the assessment and cleanup process.”  

The projects selected for funding include:

  • City of Detroit – to investigate environmental conditions at abandoned properties on the east side with a history of auto manufacturing and other industrial activities. Determining if contamination exists is a first step toward Detroit’s plans to stabilize housing, increase space for business, and improve parks. The city will also begin a cleanup of Riverside Park, which was investigated with an earlier Brownfield grant. After contaminated soils are removed, the public can enjoy open space within walking distance of several neighborhoods. The city investigated and cleaned up other properties along the Detroit River with EPA Brownfield grants including the old Globe Building site, now the location of the Michigan DNR Outdoor Adventure Center.
     
  • Wayne County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority – to investigate site in River Rouge near the decommissioned DTE powerplant to determine what environmental remediation is necessary before the city’s redevelopment plans can move forward. Properties along and near Michigan Avenue in Corktown will also undergo an environmental assessment. Sites in that area will be ready for development associated with Ford’s restoration of the Michigan Central Terminal for use as the company’s mobility campus. Wayne County and Detroit have received 18 EPA Brownfields grants over the last 20 years. Some of the sites investigated and cleaned up with these grants led to the construction of supportive housing for homeless veterans, a medical supply distribution center, and the Detroit Riverwalk.

“The City of Detroit greatly appreciates the award for both the EPA Brownfield Community-Wide Asssessment Grant for $300,000 and the Brownfield Cleanup grant for $436,742. Detroit has made tremendous progress in revitalizing various Brownfield sites within the city,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “These funds will allow us to continue the revitalization and reuse of contaminated properties and stimulate economic development opportunities particularly along commercial corridors within Detroit’s neighborhoods. The cleanup grant will expedite the reopening of Detroit’s beloved Riverside Park.”

“We are working hard to support and revive communities throughout Wayne County, and to improve environmental health, particularly in our most vulnerable places,” said Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans. “Through the efforts of the Wayne County Brownfield Redevelopment Agency and its partners, we are proud to receive another EPA Assessment grant. We will continue taking steps to improve the health and prosperity of all our citizens.”

“I am delighted that the collaboration and cooperation between the City of Detroit, Wayne County, and the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority has been recognized by the EPA in the form of another Brownfield Assessment Grant,” said Executive Director of the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority Kyle Burleson. “We’re looking forward to working with our partners to further the work we’ve done to aid both development and environmental cleanups in the region.”   

“Environmental assessment is a key element of developing Detroit’s underutilized properties citywide,” said Detroit Economic Growth Corporation’s Brian Vosburg. “Assistance with assessing environmental issues has been the top request received by the DBRA for several years. Unfortunately, very little grant funding has been available to date, delaying the growth of development. This award will supply critical funding to help jumpstart neighborhood redevelopment projects in the Delray, Boynton, and Oakwood Heights neighborhoods.”

Grants awarded by EPA’s Brownfields Program provide communities across the country with an opportunity to transform contaminated sites into community assets that attract jobs and achieve broader economic development outcomes while taking advantage of existing infrastructure. For example, Brownfields grants have been shown to:

  • Increase Local Tax Revenue: A study of 48 brownfields sites found that an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional local tax revenue was generated in a single year after cleanup. This is two to seven times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of these sites.
  • Increase Residential Property Values: Another study found that property values of homes near revitalized brownfields sites increased between 5% and 15% following cleanup.

One hundred and eight communities selected for grants this year have identified sites or targeted areas in census tracts designated as federal Opportunity Zones. An Opportunity Zone is an economically-distressed community where new investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment.

“I am truly excited to join as EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announces over $64 million in Brownfield funding,” said Scott Turner, Executive Director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council. “The Brownfields grant program is a tremendous vehicle for bringing real revitalization and transformation to the distressed communities of America. As the Executive Director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council I am pleased that EPA continues to support the Council and the President’s work in this area. In fact, of the 149 communities selected for these grants, 108 will benefit communities with Opportunity Zones. I look forward to seeing the impact that these grants will have on neighborhoods and citizens across the country.” 

Background
A brownfield is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. There are estimated to be more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S. As of May 2019, under the EPA Brownfields Program 30,153 properties have been assessed, and 86,131 acres of idle land have been made ready for productive use. In addition, communities have been able to use Brownfields grants to leverage 150,120 jobs and more than $28 billion of public and private funding.

In 2018 Congress reauthorized the statutory authority for the Brownfields Program. The reauthorization included changes to the program to expand the list of entities eligible for Brownfields grants, increase the limit of individual Brownfields cleanup grants to $500,000, and add grant authority for Multipurpose grants. These important changes will help communities address and cleanup more complex brownfield sites.

The 2019 National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on December 11-13 in Los Angeles, California. Offered every two years, this conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing formerly utilized commercial and industrial properties. EPA cosponsors this event with the International City/County Management Association.

List of the FY 2019 Applicants Selected for Funding: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy19-brownfields-multipurpose-assessment-and-cleanup-grants.

For more on the Brownfields Grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-brownfields-grant-funding.

For more on EPA’s Brownfields Program: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields.

More on the 2019 Brownfields Conference: https://www.brownfields2019.org.

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