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
Are there any grants or loans available?
I'm interested in learning more, where should I look?

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 proxmity 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 activites 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 jursidiction 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.  Any eligible expenses incurred before a brownfield plan is approved cannot be reimbursed.

What is the Michigan Community Revitalization Program (CRP)?

Contact Nathan Voght at 734-544-3055 for more information on this program.

Are there any grants or loans available?

A variety of sources are available at the local, state and federal level.  Different programs and funding sources are eligible for different project activities.


Through Washtenaw County's membership in the Downriver Community Conference, projects within municipal member communities are currently eligble to apply for grants to perform site assessment work.  Additionally, grant and loan funding is available to assist with clean up of brownfield sites.  To inquire about these programs, contact Nathan Voght at or (734) 544-3055.

State of Michigan

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality  (MDEQ) offers a number of grant and loan programs for brownfield projects.

Clean Michigan Initiative (CMI) Brownfield Redevelopment Grant

These grants provde funding to local units of government, Brownfield Redevelopment Authorities, and other public bodies to assess and remediate brownfield sites that show economic development potential.  Awards are limited to one project per applicant per year, not to exceed $1 million.

CMI Brownfield Redevelopment Loan

These loans are similar to Brownfield Redevelopment Grants.  A municipality or BRA must pledge its full faith and credit to secure the loan and the Michigan Department of Treasury must approve the applicant.  Loans are offered at a 2% rate of interest with no payments or interest for the first 5 years.  The full amount must be repaid within 15 years.  This loan allows a community or BRA to use TIF to capture furture taxes generated from the redevelopment of the property, to repay the loan

Revitalization Revolving Loan

The RRL Program provides eligible counties, cities, townships, villages, or BRAs with low-interest loans for brownfield redevelopment projects.  The property must be a "facility" as defined in Part 201, Environmental Remediation, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protenction Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended.  There is no minimum or maximum loan amount and the conditions are the same as for Brownfield Redevelopment Loans.

Information about available State funds can be found at the MDNRE Brownfields Website.


Clean up Grants

Offered by the Environmental Protection Agency on a competitive basis, Clean-up Grants can be sought for specific projects.  For informaiton on EPA Clean up Grants and other Brownfield funds visit the EPA Brownfields Webpage.

I'm interested in learning more, where should I look?

There are a variety of resources to learn more about brownfield redevelopment.  Here are a few:


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