Michigan’s brownfield laws have established a whole new set of financing mechanisms and tools for the redevelopment of contaminated, functionally obsolete, and tax-reverted properties. The magic is in knowing how to package the project and it’s financing to make it all come together.
Al Bogdan, in partnership with Marge Whittemore, structured and pulled together the brownfield programs for Wayne County. We established the authority, asked the Economic Development Corporation board to serve as its board, signed up 14 communities to be part of its brownfield zone, prepared the bylaws, and ran it through the approval process. But, equally important the county commission agreed, as a matter of policy, to finance the tax increment the projects would generate.
We pulled together a simple set of instructions, sample brownfield plan forms to be completed by firms and started to get the word out on the street. In 1999, we were pleased to be able to work with the legislature to redesign the brownfield act to add obsolete properties and to permit the use of tax increment financing for infrastructure improvements. Bogdan was appointed to sit on the technical advisory committee and were able to assure that urban related activities were included as eligible expenses.
The brownfield redevelopment authority was not only a passive tool that was responsive to outside applications, it became very proactive in projects we initiated. We applied for funding through the EPA’s PILOT environmental assessment program. We obtained $200,000 in the first application followed by two $150,000 grants, a $500,000 brownfield revolving loan fund grant, a $200,000 hazardous site assessment grant, and a $200,000 petroleum contaminated site grant. In addition we obtained a $350,000 state assessment fund grant from the state of Michigan and a $650,000 site reclamation grant from the state for a contaminated site in the city of Taylor for a site now containing a new Walmart Store.
The following are some of the projects that we were intimately involved with as an initiator of the primary strategy using brownfield laws:
- Milton Hospital site in River Rouge - In addition to performing the site assessments, we obtained a $300,000 Clean Michigan Initiative commitment from the state to demolish this historic former African-American hospital, helped the city obtain a $4.6 million HUD 202 commitment for senior housing on the site and a small HOME grant to finance it; (more)
- Cook Family Foods site in Hamtramck - In addition to performing the site assessments, we obtained a $300,000 Clean Michigan Initiative commitment from the state to demolish buildings and to remediate the contamination. The property is being sold to 18th Street Deli to be used as a production site for sandwiches delivered to factories throughout the metropolitan area. We established an important policy commitment from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. They agreed to allow the B.R.A. to sell the property at market value and place the net revenue in a revolving development fund to be used for Hamtramck projects only. (more)
- Sears Site in Highland Park - We performed the initial environmental site assessments for HPDevco and then obtained one of the first Clean Michigan Initiative commitments for demolition. The total demolition cost came in at approximately $1.7 million. The site is being prepared for a mixed use development of condominiums and some commercial on Woodward Avenue. The county is supporting the project with an HUD 108 loan, a brownfield plan containing tax increment financing, a 10% single business tax credit, additional site assessment review to determine cost of bringing the site to residential standards, and with some HOME funding to make some of the units affordable. (more)
- Salliotte Project in Ecorse - We used the brownfield plan to establish a tax increment financing district to finance the infrastructure improvements for the new housing and the single business tax credit to finance the infrastructure in front of properties not in the district such as the church, Most important, the BRA and the County Commission agreed to capitalize the tax increment to provide the funding. An HUD 202 project is providing the basic TIF cash flow. In addition to the HOME funds are being used to make the condominiums affordable and a Neighborhood Enterprise zone to make the units more competitive. (more)
- Annapolis Pointe Subdivision in Inkster - We helped the city conceptualize the project, recruit the developer and structured the brownfield plan and a phased tax increment financing plan to finance the infrastructure improvements. We encouraged the city to form its own brownfield authority to make it easier for the city to bond the project TIF. We brought the city into the county’s CDBG program so it can use multiple year CDBG funds for acquisition and relocation. We provided HOME funds to pay for relocation costs and to create some affordable housing units in the subdivision. (more)