$200,000 USEPA Brownfields Grant Program supports 6 area redevelopment projects
In 2007 the Tri-City Regional Port District (Port) received $200,000.00 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to be used within surrounding communities for environmental assessments. This money was from a USEPA grant program called the Brownfields Economic Redevelopment Initiative. The partnership of the Port District and the USEPA has played a significant role in several local redevelopment projects that will benefit the Tri-City communities.The District focused its brownfields efforts on the Route 3 Corridor. This corridor parallels the Mississippi River and includes the Cities of Venice, Madison, and Granite City. The target area has been highly industrialized since the late 1800s and includes steel mills, manufacturing and chemical plants. In the last 50 years, many industries in the corridor have abandoned local operations. The decline of industry and the plant closures in these areas has resulted in shuttered plants and an increase of brownfields.
Tri City Port Executive Director Dennis Wilmsmeyer said that “Brownfields assessment projects like we undertook help to make these sites more marketable and provides incentives for developers to consider these properties for redevelopment. Brownfields redevelopment is anticipated to expand local tax bases, create jobs, and increase property values”.
According to the USEPA, the Brownfields grant program creates several benefits for local communities including: an average $17.39 per $1.00 as expended by USEPA. The program has also created 68,963 jobs nationwide. In addition, environmental and economic benefits show that storm water runoff from brownfields redevelopment areas are 43 to 60 percent lower than alternative greenfield scenarios. USEPA also points out that residential property values actually increase 2-3 percent when nearby brownfields are addressed.
Projects in the Rt. 3 Corridor-Tri Cities area that benefited from the EPA grant include:
- New downtown Granite City Cinema: Environmental assessment funds were used to redevelop former downtown properties into a City owned cinema.
- Kirkpatrick Homes- Located in Granite City, funds were used to conduct environmental assessments to rebuild a new public housing complex.
- Koch Health Center – Assessment funds were used to construct a new healthcare facility in downtown Granite City.
- Gateway Apartments – Brownfield grant funds were used to conduct assessments and geo engineering to rebuild a new public housing facility in Madison and Venice.
- Anchorage Homes – funds were used for environmental assessments and remediation to rehabilitate a senior housing complex in Granite City.
- Several redevelopment sites were identified in Madison, Venice and Granite City to conduct environmental assessments.
The USEPA grant is expected to end in October of this year. Federal budget planners have called for the elimination or curtailment of the Brownfields grant program. Local planners are hopeful the program continues.