Brownfields Redevelopment

A brownfield, as defined by the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), “is a property the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.”  Brownfields are often abandoned or underutilized sites due to the presence of contamination or suspected contamination. 

Brownfields have a direct impact on the economy of cities and states. The presence of brownfields:  

  • decreases the tax base,  
  • lowers property values on adjacent properties, 
  • increases crime and blight, 
  • eliminates jobs, and  
  • weakens the K-12 education system by encouraging residents to move to neighboring communities. 

Once brownfields are reused, revitalized, and remediated, the local community experiences:

  • elimination of exposures to environmental contamination,
  • rejuvenated tax base,
  • economic Development including housing, businesses and greenspace,
  • job creation,
  • reduction in crime and blight related issues.

Once brownfields are reused, revitalized, and remediated,  

  • the tax base is rejuvenated  
  • jobs are generated 
  • crime and blight related issues decrease  

BSEED-Environmental Affairs (EA) has facilitated countless redevelopment projects, such as clean-up activities located along the Detroit Riverfront.  

Some recent revitalization projects include-  

Brownfield redevelopment is accomplished through collaboration, partnerships, compliance assistance and mechanisms of enforcement. BSEED-EA actively collaborates with the EPA and the Michigan Department of Environmental, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), Brownfield Redevelopment Programs  as well as private entities and local agencies. EA has procured hundreds of thousands of dollars for brownfield assessment and clean-up through EPA and EGLE programs. 

The City of Detroit received a USEPA Community-Wide Assessment (CWA) Grant in FY19 for $300,000 targeting commercial corridors in Campau/Banglatown, Islandview/Greater Villages, and Jefferson Chalmers. Through this assessment grant, the City of Detroit BSEED-EA has assessed fourteen properties. These activities have included Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments, cleanup planning, and development of a brownfield inventory. At closeout in December 2022, outcomes of the grant included: 6 housing projects, a mixed-use development, and a cultural center. The City and its consultant built a searchable database with customizable queries where site history, reports, and other brownfield data are stored. The database will be expanded as new brownfield sites are identified. The brownfield inventory assists with management, tracking, reporting, prioritizing and marketing of brownfields throughout the City of Detroit.  

In addition to the CWA grant, the City of Detroit also received a FY15 USEPA Site Specific Assessment grant for $350,000 and a FY19 Cleanup grant for $436,742 to assess and cleanup Riverside Park. These funds were used to remove contaminated soil on parcel 3 of the park making it safe for public use. This in turn has allowed the Detroit General Services Department to re-open, expand and redevelop the park into a state-of-the-art recreational asset for all Detroiters!

EA also manages and coordinates with USEPA and EGLE on other brownfield programs. We currently have 2 EPA Targeted Brownfield Assessment projects and three EGLE Brownfield grants (totaling $1.75million) underway. A fourth EGLE Brownfield Grant will kick off in November 2023. We also participate in the EGLE Brownfield Site Assessment program and a number of assessments underway.

Do you have questions? - Contact us!

Anita Harrington: [email protected] (313) 628-2459



Riverside Park 2017

Park before renovations

Riverside Park 2022

Updated park with picnic tables