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Brownfield investments: Revitalizing blighted buildings to strengthen communities, create jobs, and protect the environment

Across the state, blighted and contaminated sites have the potential to be revitalized into thriving community centers. This is where EGLE’s Brownfield Program comes into the picture. Since 2019, EGLE has provided more than $151 million in brownfield grants, loans, and incentives to 359 sites across 50 communities, supporting over 19,229 jobs and $7.3 billion in private investments.

SVRC Marketplace, including the historic lobby of the Saginaw News.

SVRC Marketplace, including the historic lobby of the Saginaw News.


According to EGLE Director Phil Roos, “Investing in the redevelopment of brownfield sites is about both cleaning up the past and creating brighter futures for Michigan’s communities, economy and environment.”

Brownfield investments revitalize local areas, create jobs, foster small businesses and provide vibrant community spaces for residents and tourists to gather and enjoy. A shining example of the power of brownfield investments is the SVRC Marketplace in Saginaw, the former home of The Saginaw News.

The Saginaw News closed its downtown newsroom in 2012, leaving the city with a blighted building. It sat vacant for three years until a buyer laid out plans to redevelop the building and five adjacent properties. Those sites had been home to several businesses including a gas station and service center, a lumber warehouse, and the Michigan Saw Company. All six parcels were filled with foundry sand and contaminated with metals and five of them had some form of chemical compounds.

The state invested more than $7 million in the project, including over $820,000 from EGLE to pay for the removal of contaminated soil, asbestos abatement, and demolition at the site. The redevelopment led to a capital investment of $22 million, the creation of 100 full- and part-time jobs, and the removal of 6,634 tons of contaminated soil.

Director Roos brought together EGLE staff and state and local leaders on Wednesday, June 26 for a tour of the SVRC Marketplace and a roundtable discussion. The group discussed the importance of brownfield investments, how EGLE can continue to be a good partner, and Michigan’s commitment to rebuilding communities, protecting the environment, and boosting local economies.

“What was once a blighted eyesore has been transformed to a thriving marketplace that has not only enhanced commerce and investment in the city, but also provided hundreds of jobs and opportunities for residents and business owners,” said Saginaw Mayor Brenda Moore. “It's exciting to come together to celebrate the transformation of the former Saginaw News building and to discuss the importance of investing in these blighted properties. I want to thank EGLE and all those who worked to make this historic redevelopment a reality."

State Representative Amos O’Neal said, “Revitalizing vacant and blighted buildings to improve quality of life for residents gives hope for a more prosperous future for all. The SVRC Marketplace is a prime example of the power of state and local partnerships to better our communities for future generations.”

EGLE’s Brownfield Program collaborates with communities and developers to create economic opportunity by putting contaminated properties back into productive use while protecting human health and the environment. The program provides technical guidance and financial incentives to evaluate and mitigate environmental risks, relying on scientific data to ensure the best long-term outcomes and stewardship of tax dollars. To learn more, please visit the Brownfield Program website.