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EGLE awards $1 million to new high school development in Saginaw

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) is awarding a $1 million Brownfield Redevelopment Grant to support the development of a new riverfront high school campus in downtown Saginaw. The new five-story building and athletic fields will be located at 1741 and 1930 North Niagara Street, and 211 Congress Avenue.

Like most urban riverfronts the property was historically filled to make the site suitable for development. The property had several industrial uses from at least the 1890s to the 1980s including a lumberyard, sawmill, salt block manufacturing, coal processing, and railroad spurs, leaving it contaminated. EGLE awarded approximately $90,000 in Brownfield Site Assessment funding. Those investigations found a variety of organic compounds and metals left behind by the former uses of the property. The EGLE grant will pay for the transport and disposal of contaminated soil, further assessment, and delineation of on-site contamination, monitoring subsurface conditions to ensure residual contamination does not present a risk to the future use of the property.

The redevelopment, which is already under construction, will draw more than $61 million in capital investment, with the funding coming from a bond passed by Saginaw voters in 2020. The new school will replace Saginaw High School and Arthur Hill High School, which are both in need significant repair and are being repurposed by the school district. The school district expects to add 10 new teaching positions when the new high school opens in 2024.

The city and school district see this project as crucial to provide a better learning environment for students, reverse declining enrollment, and improve teacher recruitment. State Rep. Amos O’Neal (D-Saginaw) highlighted the cooperation between the state and local governments, “As the representative for the city of Saginaw, we in the Legislature are glad to help work with our partners at EGLE to provide these dollars to support this transformational project for the citizens of Saginaw.”

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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