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EPA puts spotlight on Detroit International Riverfront during National Brownfields Training Conference

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency opened its National Brownfield Training Conference in Detroit today. Brownfields 2023 is America’s largest event focused on environmental remediation and economic redevelopment.

Screenshot from Detroit International Riverfront Brownfield Flip video. showing the Detroit skyline.

Screenshot from Detroit International Riverfront Brownfield Flip video.


Brownfields are abandoned or underutilized properties left contaminated by past commercial or industrial uses. Michigan has thousands of brownfield properties, largely because of the state’s deep industrial history. That’s why our state has one of the most robust brownfield redevelopment programs in the country. So what better place to bring the nation’s experts together than Detroit, where EGLE has had so much success getting sites cleaned up for new housing or businesses?

The conference is being held at Huntington Place, in the heart of Motown. One of the featured redevelopments will be the nearby Detroit International Riverfront, the subject of this Brownfield Flip video. Much of the riverfront was fenced-in and abandoned by the late 1990s. EGLE awarded nearly $9 million in grants to the project, which turned the brownfield into a 3,000-foot river walk that connects with Huntington Place, Hart Plaza, and the Veterans Memorial. More than three million people visit the formerly blighted riverfront every year.

As part of the conference, attendees have the opportunity to tour the riverfront, Orleans Landing, and other key projects that are driving and will continue to drive redevelopment and revitalization along the Detroit River.

Several EGLE staff members will be presenting at the conference. Wednesday morning Environmental Quality Specialist Ron Smedley, Environmental Quality Analyst Paul Knoerr, and Geology Specialist Chris Christensen are on a panel discussing “Incremental Sampling for Small to Large Scale Brownfield Assessment Projects.” Then, Brownfield Assessment and Redevelopment Section Manager Carrie Geyer will be part of a panel on “Michigan’s Unique Brownfield Program – Partnerships, Tools, and Lessons Learned.” Geyer and Environmental Quality Analyst Beth Vens will talk about “Finding Inspiration in Highland Park” on Wednesday. On Friday, Brownfield Redevelopment Unit manager Ryan Londrigan will be part of a panel discussion on “Forming Land Bank Partnerships to Catalyze Equitable Brownfield Revitalization.

Brownfields 2023 is expected to be one of the biggest in years. More than 2,500 people are expected to attend, from EGLE brownfield coordinators, city and county Brownfield Redevelopment Authority administrators, and outside consultants who help make the projects happen. Follow EGLE on Twitter @MichiganEGLE for updates throughout the week at Brownfields 2023. Registration spots are still available.