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DTE plans to redevelop former MichCon property in Ann Arbor

Roxbury Group

Cities like Flint and Detroit are redeveloping former industrial sites along their waterfronts.

Now it's hopefully Ann Arbor's turn, says a developer working for DTE Energy. David Di Rita is with the Roxbury Group.

He says DTE Energy wants to redevelop the former MichCon coal gasification plant on Broadway, along the Huron River.  The plant was closed in 1938.  

The site has had to undergo significant remediation to make it safe for new development. You can read about DTE Energy's efforts to clean up the toxic sludge oozing into the river in this 2012 story by Michigan Radio's Mark Brush.

Credit Bentley Historical Library
Aerial view of old MichCon coal gasification plant in Ann Arbor

Of its efforts to continue the clean up since then, DTE Energy says in a statement:

As a result of significant remediation that DTE Energy has performed in recent years, the site is currently 80 percent remediated without any use of state grants. We have thoroughly remediated the Huron River shoreline of the site by safely excavating and dredging affected sediments from the river bed and shoreline. We have also performed considerable remediation on other parts of the site where the historical manufacturing operation took place.
A Response Activities Plan (ResAP) was submitted to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in February 2018 by Roxbury for the remainder of necessary remediation and is currently under review. This plan lays out the final steps to prepare the site safely for its planned use.

The redevelopment plan includes public access to the site's 1,200 feet of undeveloped shoreline along the Huron River. Di Rita says it's been more than 100 years since this part of the Huron River was accessible.

"What this project promises to bring is that original natural beauty that not a single person alive today ever saw on this property," says Di Rita.

DTE Energy owns the site where an old manufactured gas plant once operated in Ann Arbor. The site is polluted by by-products from producing coal gas.
Credit Mark Brush / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
The MichCon Broadway site as it appears today

The proposal also includes a public pavilion, condominiums, shops, a restaurant and possibly even a hotel.

Di Rita says public meetings to explain the plan begin soon.  He says this site has been fenced off from public use for a long time, and people he's spoken with so far are enthusiastic about the idea of development.

A final proposal could be ready to submit to the city of Ann Arbor by the end of the summer.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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