Brownfield Basics

What are brownfields?
Why is the redevelopment of brownfields important?
What are some of the financial incentives to support brownfield redevelopment?How does Tax Increment Financing (TIF) work?Toyota Technical Center

What are brownfields? 

Brownfields are previously developed sites that have barriers to redevelopment due to the prescence or threat of contamination on the property.

Why is the rededevelopment of brownfields important?

Redeveloping brownfields reduces sprawl, reduces public health threats, and encourages new investment in proximity to existing infrastructure and public services.

What are some of the financial incentives to support brownfield redevelopment?

A variety of financial incentives can be utilized to support brownfield redevelopment projects including tax increment financing (TIF), Community Revitalization Program (CRP), and a variety of grant and loans that can potentially assist in numerous phases of a brownfield project.

How does Tax Increment Financing (TIF) work?

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is a tool that allows a developer to be reimbursed for eligible costs related to an eligible property (contaminated, functionally obsolete, or blighted) using the incremental increase in the taxes on the property resulting from the new development.  A TIF can only be used if there is going to be an increase in the property tax, otherwise there is nothing to capture to reimburse eligible activities.

How TIF Works

Eligible activities include:

  • Environmental Due Diligence (Phase I, II, and Baseline Environmental Assessments)
  • Due Care Activities (e.g. deed restrictions, monitoring activities)
  • Additional Response Activities (e.g. other clean up costs)
  • Environmental Insurance
  • Demolition
  • Asbestos/lead-based paint abatement

Through qualification as Core Communities, the Cities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti can include additional activities:

  • Site Preparation
  • Public Infrastructure benefitting the project
  • Urban Stormwater Management
  • Site Features included in SEMCOG's 2008 Low Impact Design Development Manual
  • Private or Public parking structures

These are the incentives available, but ultimately it is local government approval  for each specific project that determines what can be included as eligible activities reimbursable by TIF.  If a developer decides to pursue a TIF a Brownfield Plan will need to be created and approved by the jurisdiction in which the project is located, the Washtenaw County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, and the County Board of Commissioners.  A Brownfield Plan may seek to capture state school taxes in support of such project, which requires additional approval at the State level.


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