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EGLE provides grants for three Metro-Detroit brownfield projects

Brownfield sites can be abandoned buildings or an abandoned site that are contaminated or perceived to be contaminated.
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Brownfield sites can be abandoned buildings or an abandoned site that are contaminated or perceived to be contaminated.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy EGLE is funding its first brownfield projects of 2023, providing $2.9 million in grants and tax incentives to three projects in Metro Detroit.

Brownfields are contaminated properties, usually former industrial sites. Remediating that contamination can be costly, and sometimes stands in the way redeveloping those properties.

Perhaps the most notable of the three projects is $695,000 for the site of the reputedly-haunted former Eloise Psychiatric Hospital in Westland, which has been a longstanding thorn in the city’s side. The site has petroleum-related products in the soil and groundwater, likely from formerly leaky underground storage tanks. The completed project will include removal of several blighted structures, preservation of two historic structures and the addition of new commercial establishments, including a haunted attraction, hotel and restaurant/bar.

Another brownfield grant recipient is the proposed Shephard House in Ferndale, which will get $700,000. Shephard House will be an affordable housing complex for LGBTQ seniors. Ferndale will use the grant to remove soil contaminated with volatile organic compounds and metals, likely caused by former uses of the site including auto repair, machine sales and metal fabrication. The city is also providing tax incentives for the project.

The third recipient is a proposed development at 456 Cady Street in Northville, which will get an $800,000 grant to help build a new mixed-use development there. Northville will use the grant to address the site’s environmental contamination, including excavation and disposal of impacted soils onsite, and installation of barrier systems to prevent exposure to any residual contamination. The project also received just over $730,000 in brownfield tax increment financing for environmental costs not covered under the grant.

EGLE spokeswoman Jill Greenberg noted that brownfield remediation addresses longstanding environmental issues, but also “makes way for some sort of project, whether it's apartments or a new business, that contributes to a vibrant economy in that community,” she said. “So it's one of these things where it's truly a win-win.”

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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