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 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-  

  •  Orleans landing  
  • Eastern Market  
  • Brodhead Armory 
  • Riverside Park  

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 Grant in FY19 for $300,000.  Through this assessment grant, the City of Detroit BSEED-Environmental Affairs has assessed fourteen properties.  These activities have included Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments, cleanup planning, and development of a brownfield inventory, among other tasks.  At closeout in December 2022, outcomes of the grant include 3 housing projects set to begin construction in FY23, 2 in FY24 and 1 is in predevelopment.  A mixed-use development is set to begin construction in FY23 and a cultural center in FY24. The City of Detroit used the Community Wide Assessment grant to create a GIS brownfield inventory for management, tracking, reporting, prioritizing and marketing of brownfields throughout the City of Detroit.  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 target areas included, but were not limited to, these Eastside corridors - Campau/Banglatown, Islandview/Greater Villages, Jefferson Chalmers - and surrounding neighborhoods.   

In addition to the CWA grant, the City of Detroit also received a FY19 Cleanup grant for Riverside Park, for $436,742.  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 expand and redevelop the park into a state-of-the-art recreational asset for all Detroiters! 

BSEED-Environmental Affairs has applied for a FY23 USEPA Community Wide Assessment grant.  Awards will be announced in Spring 2023. 

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