Oak Park awarded $600,000 EGLE Grant for historic WWJ building revitalization

August 14, 2019
Dan Gough, EGLE Brownfield Coordinator, GoughD1@Michigan.gov, 517-281-8253
Jill Greenberg, EGLE Public Information Officer, GreenbergJ@Michigan.gov, 517-897-4965

A vacant, contaminated property in Oak Park will be redeveloped as a destination restaurant with help from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). The city was awarded a $600,000 Brownfield Redevelopment Grant to revitalize and safely reuse the iconic former WWJ Broadcast Station at 12700 W. 8 Mile Road.

An electrical transformer in the basement exploded in 2014 during a flood and power outage and contaminated the basement concrete with PCBs. Flood water was pumped outside, contaminating some soil surrounding the building. Contaminated soil and concrete and asbestos-containing materials in the 83-year-old structure will be removed using the brownfield grant.

Union Joints, owners of other metro Detroit restaurants including the Vinsetta Garage and Clarkston Union restaurants, will repurpose the building into a destination restaurant. The 1936 Art Deco building’s historic features will be retained in the new restaurant.  The $4 million redevelopment will create 100 new jobs.  

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said this grant illustrates the transformational impact of brownfield redevelopment efforts. 

“We’re thrilled to be working with the city of Oak Park to restore the historical WWJ building in Detroit,” Whitmer said. “Projects like these that restore iconic buildings to full potential are bolstering small businesses and job creation in our state. This work is vital to Michigan, and shows that we’re embracing bold solutions to strengthen our communities, grow our economy and prepare for the road ahead.” 

EGLE partners with communities to protect public health and the environment and revitalize contaminated property. EGLE grants and loans pay for environmental investigation and cleanup on brownfields, which are vacant or abandoned properties with known or suspected environmental contamination.

More than half of EGLE’s budget each year flows into Michigan communities in grants, loans and other spending that supports local projects, protects public health and the environment; it also creates economic growth and jobs for Michigan workers. Partnerships between EGLE and communities have created more than $4.7 billion in private investment and 24,000 new jobs over the life of the Brownfield Redevelopment Program. Each brownfield grant and loan dollar invested by EGLE in 2018 to protect residents and the environment is expected to return an average of $42 to the state’s economy. When brownfields are redeveloped, property values increase both on the revitalized site and on other nearby properties. Learn more at Michigan.gov/EGLEBrownfields.

To stay up to date on other EGLE News, follow us at Michigan.gov/MIEnvironment

Image of outside Historic WWJ Building in Oak Park, Michigan  EGLE image of interior of historic WWJ building revitalizationEGLE image of mural in historic WWJ building revitalization

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