On August 20, 2021, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) awarded $2.3 million in brownfield grants and loans to four projects for the redevelopment of contaminated properties in Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.
When brownfields—vacant or abandoned properties with known or suspected contamination—are redeveloped, property values increase both on the revitalized site awards and on other nearby properties.
Overall, EGLE will provide $15.6 million in brownfield funding to 21 projects statewide this summer. More than half of EGLE’s budget each year flows into Michigan communities through grants, loans and other spending that supports local projects, protects public health and the environment, ultimately creating economic growth and jobs for Michigan workers.
Plans include a transformational downtown redevelopment project in Manistee, a new mixed-use commercial and residential development in Sault St. Marie, a new energy service center in Elmira Township, and a five-unit townhome with private parking in Ludington.
EGLE’s Remediation and Redevelopment Division provides financial and technical assistance including grants, loans, tax increment financing, and free site assessments to facilitate the redevelopment of brownfield properties.
Manistee Gateway Project
The city of Manistee plans to use a $700,000 redevelopment grant and $800,000 brownfield redevelopment loan from EGLE to address environmental contamination on several properties located at US-31 and River Street. Redevelopment plans include a new boutique hotel, conference center, business incubator area, and public parking deck in downtown Manistee after addressing environmental contamination at the site this fall.
“The City of Manistee wants to thank EGLE for its continued partnership and support of the Gateway Project,” said Edward Bradford, Interim City Manager. “This transformational redevelopment of the entry into historic Downtown Manistee is vitally important to the future economic well-being of the city. The EGLE grant and loan will help demolish obsolete structures and address significant environmental contamination, as well as being a critical first step in the $30 million mixed-use project.”
Contamination on the site is believed to be a remnant of historic commercial operations, which included a dry cleaner, gasoline service station, and auto repair shop. The EGLE funding will pay for environmental investigations, removal of contaminated soil, and installation of barriers and ventilation systems in the new buildings to prevent exposure to subsurface contaminants remaining on the properties.
The new development is expected to create more than 100 jobs and will increase the city’s tax base.
Sault Ste. Marie mixed-use redevelopment
This summer, the city of Sault Ste. Marie and McClellan Realty, LLC, will renovate a historic and deteriorating structure into a new mixed-use commercial and residential development. The Sault Ste. Marie Brownfield Redevelopment Authority will use an $850,000 brownfield redevelopment grant from EGLE to pay for remediation activities.
The MAC Building, located in the downtown district at 411 W. Portage Avenue, has been vacant for more than 30 years and is located directly across the street from the Soo Locks and St. Marys River. Originally constructed in the early 1900s, the former Soo Lock laundry building served the maritime industry of Sault Ste. Marie for more than 50 years until operations ceased in the 1970s. The property’s historic use as a dry cleaner is the likely source of contamination.
“We are very thankful to EGLE for this grant that supports our community,” said Jeff Holt, executive director of the Sault Economic Development Corporation. “The McClellan family has a long history in our community, and we fully support this renovation.”
The EGLE grant will pay for environmental assessment, disposal of contaminated soil and groundwater, installation of a barrier and ventilation system to prevent subsurface vapors from entering the structure, and the removal of a suspected underground storage tank on site.
The building owner and developer, McClellan Realty LLC, will repurpose the 13,000-square-foot structure to accommodate four ground level commercial spaces and 10 second-floor residential units. It is anticipated that the nearly $3.5 million development will result in the creation of five-to-10 full-time jobs and a nearly $1.2 million increase in the property’s taxable value.
Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative
The Otsego County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (OCBRA) will partner with the Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative to make a contaminated property in Elmira Township safe for reuse as a new energy service center. A $74,000 Brownfield Redevelopment Grant from EGLE will pay for proper disposal of contaminated soil and demolition of a concrete storage pit.
“The Otsego County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority is proud to partner with EGLE in successfully obtaining grant funding to support Wolverine Power Cooperative in its demolition and clean-up efforts in Elmira,” said Lisa McComb, director of the OCBRA. “This project will facilitate development of a new $4 million distribution center.”
The new service center complements Wolverine’s $200 million Alpine Power Plant in Elmira. Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative is currently upgrading and replacing portions of the 40- to 70-year-old transmission system in northern Michigan. The planned service center in Elmira is strategically located for Wolverine’s 1,600 miles of power lines. Each mile of utility infrastructure costs about $1 million to replace, so Wolverine’s investment in northern Michigan is substantial.
South James Street in Ludington
The city of Ludington received a $54,000 grant in 2018 to complete environmental assessment and pre-demolition surveys at a property located on South James Street in downtown Ludington. In 2020, the grant was amended to add an additional $645,000 to help facilitate the redevelopment of this property. The proposed development will consist of a five-unit townhome with private parking.
The property was first developed in the late 1800s and operated for various commercial purposes, including a community hall, blacksmith shop, auto repair, and other retail. It was later renovated to function as a gasoline filling station with automotive repair, which operated from 1950 into the mid-2000s. The building has been vacant for several years and suffered significant decline and deterioration, ultimately becoming blighted and functionally obsolete.
The site is believed to be contaminated as a result of the historic uses of the property. An environmental assessment confirmed the presence of volatile organic compounds, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, and metals in both the soil and groundwater.
The grant will pay for additional assessment and investigation, excavation, transport and disposal of contaminated soil, and installation and commissioning of a vapor mitigation system, if needed.
The current state equalized value of the property is $72,500 and is expected to increase to $1.3 million following redevelopment. Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2022.
Photo of Sault St. Marie, Michigan is by P199 via Wikipedia.