Four revitalizing projects in Michigan win $5.6 million for brownfield redevelopment, including turning abandoned jail into a hotel

On September 5, 2023, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) awarded $5.6 million in brownfield redevelopment funding to projects in Escanaba, Petoskey, Sault Ste. Marie, and Traverse City, Michigan.

These projects are expected to draw more than $135 million combined in private investment to help revitalize their communities.

Redevelopment of brownfields – vacant or abandoned properties with known or suspected contamination – increases property values both on the revitalized site and on other nearby properties. Overall in 2022, EGLE provided $20.7 million in brownfield funding to 67 projects statewide.

The four projects are:

111 North 3rd Street, Escanaba

A $700,000 EGLE Brownfield Redevelopment Grant will help turn for the former Delta County Jail into a Hampton Inn.

The grant will pay for the transport and disposal of soil and groundwater contaminated with metals and petroleum compounds. It will also pay for a vapor mitigation system for the proposed 80-room hotel.

The city of Escanaba calls the project the culmination of a seven-year effort to revitalize the Lake Michigan waterfront. The hotel is expected to be done in April of 2025.

Michigan Maple Block, 1420 Standish Avenue, Petoskey

The Michigan Maple Block company built laminated butcher blocks for homes and businesses here from 1911 to 2020. The property is contaminated with metals and petroleum compounds and the ground is unstable, requiring special foundations.

A developer plans to turn the blighted property into a nine-building development with more than 200 units of workforce housing as well as commercial space.

EGLE awarded the project a $1 million Brownfield Redevelopment Grant and $1 million Brownfield Redevelopment Loan to pay for removal of contaminated soil, a vapor mitigation system, and the special foundations.

Construction is scheduled to be done by spring 2025.

Carbide Dock, 901 East Portage Avenue, Sault Ste. Marie

The only deep-water port on the Great Lakes for hundreds of miles will be back in business thanks in part to two EGLE grants. The Union Carbide company operated the dock from the 1890s until transferring it to the city of Sault Ste. Marie in 1967.

The city has since used it for a park and staging area. The site is contaminated with metals and petroleum compounds and public access to the waterfront has been restricted since 2016 because the seawall is failing.

A $1 million EGLE Brownfield Redevelopment Grant will pay for the transport and disposal of contaminated soil and for the demolition of underground infrastructure.

A separate $2.2 million EGLE Shore Power Grant will support reduced emissions from ships docking at the port. It’s scheduled to be finished in July 2024.

West State Street, Traverse City

A $900,000 EGLE Brownfield Redevelopment Grant will make it easier to enjoy one of Michigan’s most popular tourist destinations. Traverse City is planning on a mixed-use redevelopment that would include a parking ramp and commercial space on six parcels of land on West State Street and Pine Street.

The property has been home to a lumber yard, blacksmith and livery, auto salvage business, office building, and a dry cleaner, resulting in metals, petroleum compounds, and dry-cleaning solvent in the soil and groundwater.

The EGLE grant will pay for the demolition of existing buildings, removal of the contaminated soil, and the installation of a vapor mitigation system. Traverse City and its Downtown Development Authority are pursuing a $35 million bond to contribute to the project, which will add 500 new parking spots and 8,400 square feet of commercial space when it’s finished by the end of 2028.

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.

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.

Photo of old Delta County Jail site courtesy of the City of Escanada.

See Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy website.

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