Got Brownfields? The State has grants to help.

February 11th, 2013

Let’s say you have property in an area that is the new up and coming development area in your municipality.   The property has been used for a number of years for industrial purposes.  It would make a lot of sense and increase the value of the property to develop the property to a higher better use.  But, no developer will touch it with a ten-foot pole because of the unknown extent of the pollution and associated liabilities with the properties.  There are a number of state grant programs that can assist your municipality with site assessments and preparing the property to be shovel-ready.  For example, recently the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has funded the following projects:

  • City of Lake Mills was awarded $46,750 Site Assessment Grant to assist in environmental investigation activities in the downtown area of the city.  The site investigation will take place on a six-acre project site which had manufacturing of food processing and foundry operations conducted at the site for over 100 years.  The City of Lake Mills Redevelopment Authority is focusing on testing the property for environmental impacts so the site will be more attractive for redevelopment opportunities.
  • The City of Ashland was awarded a $36,000 grant for a project site that is being redeveloped as a residential community.  The grant will assist the city in its environmental investigation and demolition activities that will take place on the 4.4-acre project site.   Redevelopment plans for the site include establishing a residential community enhanced with significant amounts of green space.
  • The City of Antigo was awarded a $15,000 grant to assist the City in environmental investigation and storage tank removal.   Following the remediation and building rehabilitation on the half-acre site, the property is to be developed as a retail center. 
  • The City of Stevens Point will receive a $34,500 grant to assist in environmental investigation on a site being developed by Mid-State Technical College.  The Community Development of the City of Stevens Point acquired the property in October 2011 by condemnation.  The grant will facilitate the redevelopment of the former CenterPoint Mall by Mid-State Technical College.  Mid-State will be renovating a portion of the former mall as part of Mid-State’s new campus.
  • RDC Development received a $400,000 award for the redevelopment of the former Royster Clark site.  The award will help reimburse RDC Development for remediation costs to prepare the 27 acre site for redevelopment.  The property has been vacant since 2006.  Demolition of the structures on the property started in December of 2011 so that the project site could be shovel-ready for new residential and commercial development toward the end of 2013.  The remediation and demolition costs for the proposed clean-up of the former fertilizer site are expected to exceed $4 million.

Below is a basic summary of the type of state funding that is available and the eligibility requirements.   

Blight Elimination & Brownfield Redevelopment (BEBR) Grants: This program funds property acquisition, phase I and II environmental site assessments, environmental investigation, removal of abandoned containers and some underground tanks, environmental cleanup, demolition, including asbestos abatement, rehabilitation of buildings, including asbestos abatement, and redevelopment.  Eligible applicants include cities, villages, towns, counties, tribes, non-profit organizations, individuals and businesses.  The maximum grant award is $1.25 million and requires a 20-50% match depending on the size of the grant award.   These grants are administered by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

Brownfield Economic Development Initiative (BEDI) Grants: Activities that are funded by this program must meet one of the three objectives: 1) benefit low to moderate income people; 2) prevent or eliminate slum or blight; or 3) address imminent threats and urgent needs.  The grants may be used for planning, property acquisition, phase I and II environmental site assessments,  environmental investigation, removal of underground storage tanks and abandoned containers, environmental cleanup, demolition, including asbestos abatement, rehabilitation of buildings, including asbestos abatement, redevelopment and marketing, public facility and infrastructure improvements.  Local governments that are federal entitlement communities (that receive Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) funds directly from the federal government) may apply for BEDI grants.  Non-entitlement communities may also be able to receive BEDI grants if they work with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation on their BEDI and Section 108 Loan Guarantee applications.  The maximum grant award is $2 million. 

Brownfield Site Assessment Grants (SAG): These grants fund activities such as phase I and II environmental site assessments, environmental investigation, demolition, including asbestos abatement, removal of underground storage tanks, and removal of abandoned containers.  An eligible site is one or more contiguous industrial or commercial facilities or sites that are abandoned, idle, or underused, the expansion or redevelopment of which is adversely affected by actual or perceived environmental contamination.  Eligible entities include: cities, towns, villages, counties, tribes, redevelopment authorities, community development authorities and housing authorities.  The maximum award grant depends on the amount that the state budget has allocated for the program and is limited to 15% of the total funds available in each fiscal year.  These grants are also administered by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

Filed Under: Government Law, Environmental Law

Note: The SR Short Report is published by Stafford Rosenbaum. The SR Short Report is provided for informational purpose only and should not be construed as legal advice or an opinion on specific situations. The legal issues raised by a particular situation may differ from those addressed in the publication. We encourage you to contact one of the Stafford Rosenbaum attorneys before making a legal decision.