Brownfield cleanup grants continue to produce results

Date: Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Corner view of a downtown multi-story hotel in the evening.Metropolitan Council awards of nearly $3.2 million in brownfield cleanup grants will result in jobs, redevelopment, and more housing in the region, including housing affordable to families with low and moderate incomes. The Met Council, on January 12, awarded 11 grants to the cities of Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and St. Louis Park.

The grants are part of the Met Council’s Livable Communities program, helping communities achieve goals of economic development, job creation, housing choices, and connections between where people live, work, shop, and recreate.

“I continue to be impressed by the outcomes of the cleanup grants,” said Chair Charlie Zelle. “The funding awards may not be that large compared to the project costs overall, but they’re highly effective at leveraging additional dollars and helping to fill financing gaps.”

The $3.2 million in grant awards will help clean up 22 acres of land, produce and preserve nearly 543 affordable homes, and add or retain nearly 400 jobs.

Tax base increase, job creation among considerations for funding

The Met Council received 14 applications for brownfield cleanup monies this funding round totaling $3.6 million. Applications are reviewed and evaluated for factors including:

  • Increase to the tax base
  • Jobs and/or affordable housing units created
  • Contribution to development that connects development and uses land resourcefully
  • Contribution to the environment and livability

The cleanup grants fall into three categories, including contamination cleanup, site investigation, and Seeding Equitable Environmental Development (SEED). The latter grants encourage development within and near areas of concentrated poverty that have potential for job or housing creation.

Cleaning up contaminated sites for redevelopment

Projects awarded grants in this category:

Aerial artists rendering of a four-story building with 3 wings and a courtyard in the middle.Hotel Indigo Northstar, Minneapolis: $865,800 for asbestos abatement at a 0.3-acre site that includes a vacant hotel. The hotel renovation will include 218 rooms and two restaurants.

Northrup King Residential, Minneapolis: $457,200 to help with asbestos and lead-based paint abatement at a 3.9-acre site. Two of the existing buildings will be renovated in 84 apartments, including 69 affordable units and another existing building will be renovated into creative business space.

Kyle Garden Square, Minneapolis: $203,100 to assist with environmental investigation and asbestos abatement at a 0.7-acre site that houses a building used as a medical office. The building will be renovated into 55 affordable apartments and supportive services for people who had been homeless.

Saint Olaf Exodus Apartments, Minneapolis: $233,700 to assist with asbestos and lead-based abatement at a 0.2-acre site that includes a building that has been used for transitional housing. The existing building vacant building will be renovated into 66 affordable apartments with supportive services and stormwater improvements.

Farwell Yards, Saint Paul: $400,700 to assist with abatement and mitigation at a 5.1-acre site that was used for maintenance and storage. Site plans include construction of 210 apartments, 21 of them affordable, and renovation of an existing building to include new office space and artist production studios.

176 S. Robert, Saint Paul: $551,400 to facilitate remediation and mitigation at a vacant 2.9-acre site used for commercial and industrial purposes, including a junk yard. Plans call for construction of 174 apartments, including 35 affordable units, and 9,500 square feet of commercial space.

Kimball Court, Saint Paul: $147,700 to assist with environmental investigation and mitigation at a 4-acre site that houses a vacant bakery, grocery, and apartments. Renovation of an existing building and construction of a new building will include 98 affordable units, including 74 single-room occupancy rooms with supportive services for people who have been homeless.

Union Park Flats, St. Louis Park: $236,800 to assist with abatement and remediation at a 1.2-acre site that includes a church and childcare center. Plans call for construction of 60 affordable apartments with supportive services.

Artists rendering of a three-story building with people walking, biking, and parked nearby.

Investigating contamination for potential redevelopment

Project awarded in this category:

Washburn Flats, Minneapolis: $43,800 to help with costs of an environmental assessment and work planning at a 1.4-acre site that includes a vacant church. Plans call for renovation of an existing office building into 12 single-room occupancy units for people who are homeless. The sanctuary of the existing vacant church will be renovated into a community youth center and construction of 44 affordable apartments.

SEED: Land cleanup in areas of concentrated poverty

Projects awarded in this category:

1108 East Lake, Minneapolis: $24,100 to assist with environmental assessment and planning at a 0.1-acre commercial site used for multiple retail uses.

405 East Lake, Minneapolis: $27,500 to assist with environmental assessment and planning at a 0.2-acre commercial site used for multiple retail uses.

Livable Communities promotes prosperity, economic development

Since the Livable Communities program became law in 1995, the Met Council has made 589 brownfield investigation and cleanup grant awards totaling $159 million. The awards are helping to leverage billions of dollars in private investment, create and maintain more than 48,000 jobs and clean up more than 2,100 acres of contaminated properties.

To be eligible and compete for Livable Communities funding, metro area cities must participate in the Livable Communities program, which provides funding for:

  • Affordable housing
  • Development that promotes mixed-use and connected land uses linking housing, jobs, and services
  • Brownfield or polluted-site cleanup
  • Transit-oriented development

The Met Council awards brownfield cleanup grants twice a year.

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