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Turning Brownfields into Golden Opportunities

Richard Lyster, PG, CPG | with 0 Comments

Turning Brownfields into Golden Opportunities

Addressing vacant, abandoned, and blighted property has become a top priority for municipal officials and urban planners. In many geographic areas, developers shy away from older urban areas that may have contamination or other historic concerns, making the property unattractive for purchase and redevelopment. There are funding programs targeted specifically to municipalities and developers seeking to redevelop marginal properties in older downtown or commercial districts.
For example, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) provides funding for redevelopment of brownfield sites. WEDC offers two sources of funding.
  1. Brownfield Site Assessment Grant (SAG). The SAG program provides grant funding for the initial assessment or demolition of a brownfield site.
  2. Brownfield Program (formerly Blight Elimination & Brownfield Redevelopment (BEBR) Program). The program assists with remediation on sites with soil or groundwater contamination. Brownfield awards are usually 30% of eligible project costs.
Another approach involves a community and developer working together to prepare a Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) District as part of a development agreement. A development agreement is a contract written between a municipality and the developer. It specifies the stipulations of the how the municipality will financially support the development and what the developer’s responsibilities include to obtain the financial support.
Case Study:
After nearly 10 years of vacancy, the underutilized Zander Creamery property was the focus of ongoing efforts to revitalize downtown Cross Plains.  The Village identified the site for potential redevelopment in various land-use plans.
In 2014, following the plan adoption, purchase of the property and removal of the buildings occurred in preparation of a new multi-family development. This development was partially funded by a $288,130 WEDC grant for which MSA prepared the application on behalf of the developer. And, the Village created Tax Incremental District #3 to support significant private investment in the downtown area.

WisDOT is currently reconstructing US 14 in the Village. This Main Street improvement project, coupled with the Zander Creamery property revitalization, has residents and officials in Cross Plains eager to see their Main Street back.
Blighted-property-redevelopment Cross-Plains-Redevelopment
Before Construction Proposed Design
Richard Lyster has experience conducting an assortment of environmental feasibility studies and site investigations. He has completed environmental assessments for a number of downtown community redevelopment projects, including brownfield site assessment grant projects and transportation design projects. For more information on brownfield and blighted property, contact Richard.

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