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West Michigan sites receive over a million dollars in brownfield redevelopment funds

Dmitriy Zub

The state is spending $1.73 million to help get three former industrial sites in West Michigan cleaned up and repurposed.

The sites in Grand Rapids and Grand Haven were previously used for gas stations, oil storage, and manufacturing.

The state says they’ll become new housing, with the help of brownfield redevelopment grants from the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).

Department spokesperson Jill Greenberg says her agency helps facilitate new uses of the properties.

"It helps eliminate blight, prevents urban sprawl, often capitalizes on existing infrastructure,” Greenberg said.

The department plans to award over $20 million this year to help address environmental concerns at brownfield sites.

Greenberg said the program supports local communities.

“EGLE plays a role in making those sites safe so they can be transformed into something that benefits the community instead of being like the blighted building,” she said.

Local governments can apply for grants or loans up to $1 million from the state.

A Grand Rapids-based development in the city’s Boston Square Neighborhood is receiving the full award amount. It’ll help pay for “demolition, environmental investigation, [and] disposal of contaminated soil,” according to a press release from EGLE.

Jono Klooster is executive director of the Grand Rapids Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. He said projects would often be cost-prohibitive without the grants.

“Doing development in an urban environment is extraordinarily more expensive than doing development on a greenfield site,” Klooster said.

Multiple projects in the city have received prior grants from the state to help get off the ground.

Klooster added the community-driven aspect makes the $40 million Boston Square project unique. He mentioned it will ultimately involve a community hub that can provide services.

“I think that’s a great example of a project that is the result of a lot of community engagement, a lot of stakeholder participation, and one that really just helps to achieve the outcomes that the community wants,” he said.

The other Grand Rapids project receiving the latest round of brownfield grants is a multi-building residential development near the Kent Country Club.

The third project is located just over a mile from the Lake Michigan shore in Grand Haven.

EGLE predicts each will create new full and part-time jobs.

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