The Infrastructure Law is Investing $1.5 Billion in Brownfield Revitalization
March 23, 2022
In December 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law would provide $1.5 billion in funding through their Brownfields Program. This funding will bring direct grants and technical assistance to communities, states, tribes, and nonprofits to assess and clean up contaminated land through a competitive application process. The EPA provides annual funding to these entities to support brownfield redevelopment through a combination of Brownfield Assessment, Cleanup, Multipurpose, and Revolving Loan Fund Grants. The influx of funding from the recent Infrastructure Law will increase this program from an annual appropriation of ~$62 million to ~$370 million for five years (a combination of appropriation and Infrastructure Law funds).
In Michigan, which has some of the most robust brownfield tools, this funding has had an incredible impact in previous years. Communities large and small, urban and rural, have utilized these grant funds to help with the redevelopment of contaminated sites, which improves public health and the environment and encourages additional investment, jobs, and revenue in the community. Still, much work is left to be done. According to the EPA, the money in the Infrastructure Law will transform countless lives and spur life-changing revitalization in communities, all with the same desire to keep their neighborhoods healthy, sustainable, and reflective of the people who call them home. These funds provide an opportunity to capitalize on the efforts of local brownfield redevelopment authorities and other entities that have limited resources to promote and encourage redevelopment in their communities. Depending on the grant, funds can be used to conduct Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments, Baseline Environmental Assessments, Due Care and Cleanup Planning, Brownfield Plans, site cleanup, and planning activities related to brownfield sites, among many other activities.
Envirologic has broad experience successfully applying for and implementing EPA Brownfields Grants (over $9 million) on behalf of our clients. In many cases, these funds have been the catalyst to move projects forward, typically leveraging other funding as well. The following examples include several catalyst projects completed by Envirologic utilizing these funds:
Inn on Water Street, Marine City, MI
This site was formerly a car dealership, service center, and gas station on the St. Clair River. Using EPA Brownfield Assessment Grant funds, the St. Clair County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority funded $18,000, which leveraged over $500,000 in EGLE funding and $640,000 in MEDC funding, among other sources. This project ultimately resulted in an investment of $4.2 million into Marine City and created 15 full-time-equivalent jobs. The boutique hotel/condominium/retail development strengthens the existing traditional downtown by promoting walkability in the community and supporting tourism in the area. This was the first development project in the traditional downtown in several decades.
Teal Lake Senior Living Community, Negaunee, MI
This former mining site required the extension of public infrastructure including municipal electric, sewer and water, and streets to the proposed development site. The Marquette County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and the County Land Bank Authority collaborated to allow these and other environmental costs to be eligible in a non-core community. Approximately $47,000 of EPA Brownfield Assessment Grant funds were the catalyst for this new, $5.5 million senior living facility, which provided a badly needed resource and created over 26 jobs. This development has spurred additional projects to occur on this formerly unused contaminated mining site.
Westgate Commons, Kalamazoo, MI
Located in a residential historic district bordering downtown Kalamazoo, this contaminated, former gas station and auto body repair shop sat vacant for over 10 years. The Kalamazoo County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority utilized approximately $23,000 from their EPA Brownfield Assessment Grant to conduct due diligence activities. These funds helped leverage nearly $380,000 in EGLE grants to support site cleanup, demolition, and installation of a vapor mitigation system. The City Brownfield Redevelopment Authority also supported a Brownfield Plan to reimburse eligible developer expenses and the EPA Grant funds expended on the project. Today, this $3.6 million mixed-use residential and commercial development will create approximately 24 jobs and eliminate a blighted, underutilized property in this neighborhood.
For other examples of Envirologic’s projects, please visit our website at envirologic.com/projects.
Envirologic has developed an Infrastructure Law infographic, which presents more information on this historic investment. The infographic also provides further details on the EPA grant program and how Envirologic can help you pursue these grants for your community. For more information or to discuss your grant opportunities with one of our team members directly, please contact our Brownfields Group.