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EGLE funding to help turn former industrial site into a new public park

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) is awarding a $1 million Brownfield Redevelopment Grant to help turn a former industrial site in Chelsea into a new public park.  The property at 500 Main Street was the home of Federal Screw Works, a manufacturer of screws, bolts, and other small parts from 1917 to 2005.  Multiple developers with brownfield experience have passed on the site because of the cost, zoning, deed restrictions, and questions about the return on investment.

The city of Chelsea has named the redevelopment of the property a priority in its master plan, largely because it’s a blighted and dangerous eyesore in the middle of a residential area.  Investigations have found metals, petroleum-related compounds, and solvents in soil and groundwater at the property.  There are also 3 underground storage tanks that will be removed by the current owner, Magellan Development Corporation.

The EGLE grant will be used for demolition of the existing building and pavements, excavation and disposal of contaminated soil, and placement of a soil barrier to prevent future uses of site from coming in contact with the below-grade contamination.  A barrier will be placed over the entire site consisting of at least two feet of clean soil or impervious paved surfaces.  Much of the future site features including skatepark, basketball court, and other hardscape will also act as a barrier to the subsurface impacts.

The Main Street Park Alliance (MSPA), a non-profit consisting of local community and business leaders, is leading the purchase and redevelopment.  Upon completion MSPA will donate the park back to the City who will take over the long-term operation and maintenance.  The new park is expected to cost approximately $6.7 million to construct.  MSPA has raised $1.2 million in private donations with another $1.3 million pledged once environmental conditions are acceptable for construction.  MSPA is using $700,000 from the Local Brownfield Revolving Funds and plans to apply for more grants.  Magellan lowered its asking price of the property by $400,000.

Because of the non-profit and municipal ownership structure the redevelopment will not generate additional property tax revenue however, the City believes it will positively impact the neighborhood and raise nearby existing property values by 10%-25%.  It also sees the redevelopment as a regional park that will draw people from the surrounding area.  Construction will start in the spring of 2024 and is scheduled to be finished by the fall of 2025.

More than half of EGLE’s budget each year flows into Michigan communities through grants, loans, and other spending that supports local projects, protects public health and the environment, ultimately creating economic growth and jobs for Michigan workers.  Redevelopment of brownfields – vacant or abandoned properties with known or suspected contamination – increases property values both on the revitalized site and on other nearby properties.  Overall, in 2022 EGLE provided $20.7 million in brownfield funding to 67 projects statewide.

EGLE’s Remediation and Redevelopment Division provides financial and technical assistance including grants, loans, tax increment financing, and free site assessments to facilitate the redevelopment of brownfield properties.

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