The many economic, environmental & social benefits of brownfields redevelopment

Minnesota’s growing population and economy have transformed the state in recent years. Historically, industrial and economic advancement have pushed outward to undeveloped and suburban land, leaving thousands of idle and contaminated properties, known as brownfields, vacant across the state.

Former brownfield on West 7th Street, St. Paul.

Unattended brownfields threaten environmental and public health, burdening surrounding communities, economies, and ecosystems.

These contaminated and abandoned properties solidify economic disparities by driving out local businesses and afflicting neighboring areas with health risks related to contaminated air, water, and lack of recreation. Further, brownfields often depress property values and act as physical barriers between neighborhoods.

The successful cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields has potential to strengthen Minnesota’s communities, making them economically and environmentally sustainable. This report presents the economic, environmental, and social benefits of reintegrating brownfield sites into Minnesota’s economy and communities.

For instance, by placing previously abandoned and undeveloped lots on the tax roll, brownfield redevelopment often results in increases to the local tax base. Residents benefit from job opportunities, new businesses and services, and increased utilization of existing infrastructure.

As a result, consumer spending, state income tax, and sales tax revenue increase, and the vitality of a growing economy influences neighboring economies. The University of Wisconsin – Whitewater’s Fiscal and Economic Research Center determined that the assessable tax base of an average remediated brownfield site in Wisconsin increased by $3.4 million as a direct result of redevelopment, with an additional $3.5 million increase from resounding effects on nearby properties.

Read the full report here (PDF).

See Minnesota Brownfields website.

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