Community revitalization funding for brownfields cleanup and redevelopment pours into Utah, Colorado and North Dakota

In late May of 2023, communities and regions all across American celebrated the arrival of community revitalization funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)‘s brownfields program.

These EPA funds are part of President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda to expedite the assessment and cleanup of brownfield sites while advancing environmental justice through the Multipurpose, Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup (MARC) Grant programs. Thanks to the historic boost from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this funding is the largest ever awarded by EPA’s Brownfields MARC Grant programs.


Former Schovaers site in Salt Lake City.

EPA awarded two Brownfields grants to Salt Lake City-area partners to assess, clean up and revitalize properties in Salt Lake City.

The Salt Lake City Corporation will use $495,200 in Brownfields funding to clean up the former Schovaers Electronics site and Salt Lake County will use a $1 million grant for assessment and cleanup projects in Magna Township.

Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County continue to deliver high-value property cleanup and redevelopment projects with EPA Brownfields grants,” said EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker. “We look forward to seeing these funds transform blighted sites into new community assets.”

The Salt Lake City Corporation will use its EPA grant to clean up the 0.34-acre former Schovaers Electronics site at 22 South Jeremy Street. The site was formerly used as an electrical supply company, electroplating facility and appliance repair shop and is contaminated with heavy metals and volatile organic compounds.

Specific contaminants of concern include trichloroethene and hexavalent chromium in soil and groundwater likely due to seepage from the facility and off-site sources. The cleanup will allow the site to complement the new Folsom Trail with trail-oriented commercial space. The trail is a paved multiuse path that will ultimately connect downtown Salt Lake City with the 45-mile Jordan River Parkway trail.

This EPA grant signifies a major step in Salt Lake City’s efforts to revitalize this westside corridor,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall.

By tapping into the federal Brownfields program, the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City has greatly boosted its ability to activate the pedestrian-oriented Folsom Trail while addressing the community health and environmental impacts of this land’s long history of heavy industrial activity and proximity to major transportation corridors. The planned adaptive reuse of the Schovaers Electronics building is key to the RDA’s overarching revitalization work in the North Temple neighborhood to establish small-scale, trail-oriented and affordable commercial space for local, independent businesses and nonprofit organizations. Having a federal program like Brownfields available to provide crucial funding to help safely rebuild neighborhoods is an invaluable resource for municipalities big and small,” he added.

EPA has also selected Salt Lake County to lead a $1 million Brownfields Assessment Coalition grant, funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, to develop environmental assessments and cleanup plans at more than 20 high-priority sites in Magna Township.

The focus of these projects will be Main Street Corridor, the Guadalupe neighborhood and the Poplar Grove intersection, including former auto repair shops, a former dry cleaner, an abandoned commercial building and other vacant properties. Contaminants of concern include asbestos, lead, metals, petroleum hydrocarbons and drycleaning solvents. Potential reuse of these sites includes plans for affordable housing, retail and commercial spaces. The county’s partners include Magna Township and NeighborWorks Salt Lake.

Salt Lake County is making good on its commitment to clean up our environment and we are grateful for the EPA’s support,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson. “These funds will allow us to assess contamination and clear the path for meaningful redevelopment – making the county safer and healthier for all residents.”


McGinnis Gym in Buena Vista.

Watershed NP, Inc., will receive a $979,222 Brownfields Cleanup Grant to clean up the 5,450-square-foot former McGinnis Gymnasium at 113 North Court Street in the City of Buena Vista, Colorado.

EPA’s award for the Buena Vista project is among six Brownfields grants totaling nearly $4.78 million announced for cleanup and revitalization projects in communities across Colorado.

Watershed NP has worked with local partners to develop a vision for restoring McGinnis Gymnasium as a prime recreational, educational and performing arts space,” said KC Becker. “EPA is proud to support this cleanup and a safe, vibrant space for residents and visitors to gather as a community.”

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is helping clean up and revitalize communities across Colorado,” said U.S. Senator Michael Bennet. “With this funding, Buena Vista, Pueblo, Telluride, Silverton, San Luis and Trinidad can make sure these sites are safe for the families living near them and restore them in ways that meet the communities’ needs.

The McGinnis Gym has been vacant since 2008 due to the identification of hazardous materials, including asbestos, lead-based paint, mercury and mold EPA’s cleanup grant will enable the gym to be restored to its original use as prime recreational, educational, and performing arts space serving the community.

I am deeply committed to improving the economic and environmental well-being of Colorado’s 7th district,” said U.S. Representative Brittany Pettersen. “I’m glad to see federal funds coming to cleanup efforts, which will help our communities thrive. The McGinnis Gymnasium holds a rich historical significance in Buena Vista, and this award ensures it will continue to serve the next generation in Chaffee County.”

The McGinnis Gym project could not have gotten this far without EPA and partners KSU and Tetra Tech,” said Katy Welter, President of Watershed NP, Inc.

The training, technical assistance, warm introductions and now funding have allowed us to return a blighted building on Buena Vista’s elementary school campus to its historic use as a school and community gym, theater and assembly space. It’s fitting to bring back the McGinnis Gym in this time, and with the federal government’s help as the gym was built as a federal Public Works Administration project in 1936. Our little mountain town thanks you!,” she concluded.

Other Brownfields grants announced in Colorado include:

  • The Town of San Luis: $500,000
  • The Town of Silverton: $800,000
  • Mt. Carmel Wellness and Community Center, Trinidad: $998,700
  • San Miguel County: $500,000
  • The Keating School, Pueblo: $1 million

North Dakota

McKenzie County, North Dakota, will receive a $500,000 Brownfields Assessment Grant to conduct environmental assessments and develop cleanup plans focused on several properties across the county, including sites in Arnegard, Watford City and Alexander.

McKenzie County has developed a comprehensive strategy to assess, clean up and revive key properties in the communities of Arnegard, Watford City and Alexander,” said KC Becker.  “We look forward to seeing these projects bring new assets and business opportunities for those who live in these communities.

Priority sites include several vacant properties such as the McKenzie County Hospital, gas stations, the county fairgrounds, a high school building and a commercial building. Addressing contaminants at these sites will enable the County to redevelop these properties based on established revitalization goals, including enhancing housing options and affordability, addressing the need for childcare, and expanding opportunities for parks, trails and recreation.

Remediating sites contaminated by hazardous substances and returning them to productive use is a win-win for our communities,” said U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer. “These bipartisan infrastructure law grants will help create new opportunities at currently unusable locations.

The former McKenzie County Fairgrounds (pictured at top), a large, 29.5- acre property in Watford City, is a prime location for future redevelopment. Contaminants of concern include asbestos, lead-based paint, petroleum hydrocarbons, metals and volatile organic compounds.

Cleanup and redevelopment of the site will give the community access to a trail system along Cherry Creek, greenspace amenities, promote walkability and spur economic development through retail and restaurants, creating jobs and new housing. There is also an interest in potentially relocating the Fire Department and Emergency Management Services to the site.

We are excited to use our brownfields grant to help revitalize properties throughout McKenzie County,” said Sandee Kimpel, Director, McKenzie County Planning and Zoning.

Additional properties with known or perceived environmental issues include the Former County Hospital at 516 N Main St. in Watford City. This 17,484 square foot building is the former home of the McKenzie County Healthcare System Hospital, sits in a residential neighborhood and has been vacant since 2018.

Potential environmental concerns include asbestos, lead-based paint, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and petroleum compounds associated with underground storage tanks. Once assessed and cleaned, the building has potential for much-needed reuse as a daycare facility or other productive redevelopment.

The former Arnegard School on Vine Street in Arnegard is a 12,630 square foot, two-story structure that has been vacant since 2013. Contaminants of concern include asbestos and lead. The county’s vision for this historic building includes senior housing units, retail spaces and a new community center that can be rented for events. A community garden will also be added to the landscaping for building residents and visitors.

The Doorman Overhead Building on Elk Street in Alexander is a 5,600 square foot building formerly used as a gas station, liquor store, truck repair shop and overhead door sales and services. Contaminants of concern include lead-based, petroleum hydrocarbons, metals, PCBs and volatile organic compounds.

The building’s location makes it ideal for mixed-use, commercial and retail redevelopment, a restaurant and low- to moderate-income apartments on the second floor. The redevelopment will also feature energy-efficient measures including high-efficiency windows, insulation and heating/cooling systems and solar panels for power.

The grant to McKenzie County is among three grants totaling $3.5 million EPA is awarding to grantees in North Dakota today. Other grantees include:

  • The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians: $1 million
  • The Fargo Housing and Redevelopment Authority: $2 million

All photos courtesy of USEPA. Featured photo shows Old McKenzie County Fairgrounds in McKenzie County, North Dakota.

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