EPA clean-up grant helps Lansing area redevelopment

Apr 4, 2016

The Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) is using a federal grant to assess and clean up more than 20 brownfield sites in mid-Michigan.
Credit WKAR File Photo

There’s a lot of redevelopment happening in mid-Michigan.  Often, before anything new comes up, the old must be cleaned up.  Officials are using a $500,000 EPA grant to clean up and redevelop former brownfields.

Current State’s Mark Bashore talks with Keith Lambert with the Lansing Economic Area Partnership.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS:

How has the money been spent since the $500,000 grant was awarded one year ago?

“We were actually able to start spending the money in the September/October time frame. Over the last six months we’ve approved 22 projects. This is the first time we’ve ever had a coalition grant where it’s across the entire tri-county region. (Clinton, Eaton, Ingham)

So we’ve done projects in all three of the county seats - St Johns, Mason, Charlotte. We’ve done a project in East Lansing recently. Downtown Lansing too.” -- Keith Lambert

Examples of projects

“Oliver Towers is a visible example, right in downtown Lansing. They’d been looking [at that location] for a very long time. It was a troubled property - a fire that then led to a lot of water damage. There was asbestos in the building. Pretty much any building built prior to the 1970s has asbestos material. Lead paint is also a challenge in older construction buildings. There’s a whole lot of properties out there that have some hindrance to re-development. These funds are used to take care of some of the expensive work before you can get into the ground and start renovating.” — Lambert

What was the importance of the tri-county area working together for this grant?

“What was really groundbreaking about this grant is that we brought everyone together, and then shaped the situation. These funds are much more competitive than the used to be. It used to be just really the Midwest part of the country that was applying for these - and getting them religiously. All the sudden the South and other areas of the country started using these funds. It got very competitive.

You were running into a situation where Eaton County or Ingham County alone didn’t really have a shot at the funds. But together with the city of Lansing and the urban core, it was possible.” — Lambert

On the history of the EPA grant

“The program has been around since the late 90s. We’ve been using it since the early 2000s. The city of Lansing has been receiving these grants every two to three years for the last decade. We’ve been able to keep receiving them because the city of Lansing has a lot of urban sites and manufacturing properties that need rehabilitation and need the reassessment funds.

But that’s not to say there’s not a need in, for example, Charlotte - and we’ve got three or four projects there. They just wouldn’t have access to these funds if it wasn’t for the regional approach we take.” — Lambert