Resources for Brownfield Redevelopment

The following are federal, state, regional and county resources available to assist with the redevelopment of brownfield sites for housing.

Federal

  • The Environmental Protection Agency has a variety of brownfield technical and financial assistance tools available. Specifically, grants may be used to address sites contaminated by petroleum and hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants (including hazardous substances co-mingled with petroleum). Opportunities for funding are as follows: Brownfields Assessment Grants (each funded up to $200,000 over three years), and Brownfields Cleanup Grants (each funded up to $200,000 over three years).

State

  • State programs at the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) can be requested of sites that prioritize an increase in tax base and job growth, and therefore are more appropriate for projects that integrate housing with other uses. The DEED Contamination Cleanup and investigation Grant Program provides funding for investigation and cleanup of contaminated sites for private or public redevelopment. It assists development authorities in contamination investigations and the development of Response Action Plans (RAPs) or in the cleanup of contamination prescribed in a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency-approved RAP on a site that will be redeveloped. In both cases, grants are awarded to those sites where there is a planned redevelopment intention. Cities, port authorities, housing and redevelopment authorities, economic development authorities, or counties are eligible. Both publicly and privately owned sites with known or suspected soil or groundwater contamination qualify for this program.
  • Voluntary Investigation and Cleanup (VIC) Program -- Many brownfield sites are enrolled in the MPCA Voluntary Investigation and Cleanup (VIC) Program. The VIC Program provides technical assistance, as well as administrative and legal assurances to parties who want to investigate, clean up and return contaminated properties to productive use. The VIC Program deals with sites that are contaminated primarily by hazardous substances.
  • Petroleum Brownfields Program (formerly VPIC) -- The MPCA's Voluntary Petroleum Brownfields Program provides technical assistance and liability protection to facilitate petroleum contamination investigations and cleanups, property transfers and redevelopment.
  • Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Program -- The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Program is a federal program (delegated to the MPCA) that regulates the management of hazardous waste from the point of waste production to final disposal. Some brownfield sites may be occupied by businesses that hold permits under RCRA or have recently been vacated by RCRA-permit holders; if a site investigation indicates a hazardous substance release has occurred that appears to be related to permit violations, site investigation and cleanup may be overseen by MPCA RCRA Program staff under RCRA Corrective Action. For further information see the RCRA Corrective Action program page.
  • Tax Increment Financing is also a tool to assist with brownfield redevelopment. Specifically, using tax increment financing (TIF) for environmental remediation is permitted under enabling statutes in Minnesota with special laws (beyond the State’s regular TIF law) dedicated to this purpose.
    Minnesota created a TIF option called the Hazardous Substance Subdistrict designed to meet the financing needs of brownfields areas. A hazardous substance subdistrict is created within another, regular TIF district. Hazardous substances subdistricts are a TIF financing mechanism that allows use of the original tax capacity in a TIF district to pay for the cost of clean-up of pollution and contamination. Subdistricts also allow extension of a TIF district's duration to permit recovery of pollution clean-up costs for the subdistrict area.

Regional

  • The Metropolitan Council Livable Communities program supports brownfield cleanup through its Tax Base Revitalization Account (TBRA) grant program. TBRA helps cities clean up contaminated urban land for subsequent commercial and industrial development, thus restoring tax base and jobs near existing housing and services. It also helps cities clean up land for housing. The TBRA is available to assist with vertical brownfields in the abatement of asbestos and lead based paint for the reuse of existing structures. This program is conducted in coordination with the Minnesota Department of Trade and Economic Development.

County

  • In addition, Hennepin County and Ramsey County also have grant funding programs that support housing redevelopment. The programs are both called Environment Response Fund and should be contacted directly to learn more about the applicability of their programs to specific sites. The County programs are coordinated with the DEED and Metropolitan Council TBRA assistance programs.