EPA announces five communities to receive funding to help build a better America while advancing environmental justice
CHICAGO (May 12, 2022) – Today, the Biden Administration through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded $6.75 million in Brownfields grants to five communities in Illinois to assess or clean up brownfields. Today’s grants are supported by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides a total of $1.5 billion to advance environmental justice, spur economic revitalization, and create jobs by cleaning up contaminated, polluted or hazardous brownfield properties.
Brownfield projects can range from cleaning up buildings with asbestos or lead contamination, to assessing and cleaning up abandoned properties that once managed dangerous chemicals. Once cleaned up, former brownfield properties can be redeveloped into productive uses such as grocery stores, affordable housing, health centers, museums, parks, and solar farms.
The Brownfields Program advances President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to deliver at least 40 percent of the benefits of certain government programs to disadvantaged communities. Approximately 86 percent of the communities selected to receive funding as part of today’s announcement across the nation have proposed projects in historically underserved areas.
“With today’s announcement, we’re turning blight into might for communities across America,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “EPA’s Brownfields Program breathes new life into communities by helping to turn contaminated and potentially dangerous sites into productive economic contributors. Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are significantly ramping up our investments in communities, with the bulk of our funding going to places that have been overburdened and underserved for far too long.”
Today’s announcement includes approximately $500,000 from the historic $1.5 billion investment from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help turn brownfield sites in Illinois into hubs of economic growth and job creation, along with $6.25 million from Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations.
“EPA’s Brownfields grants are a great investment in Illinois’ future,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore. “One of the best ways we can build back better in Illinois is by revitalizing unused and contaminated properties and returning them to productive purposes in communities across the state.”
“Environmental justice means a cleaner and safer future for all, and these brownfield cleanups are yet another example of the Federal Government working to help make that happen,” said U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth. “As the co-chair of the Senate Environmental Justice Caucus, I’m glad to see the Biden Administration’s EPA continuing to prioritize environmental justice issues and making sure that historically overburdened communities in Illinois are no longer being left behind.”
“This federal funding will support efforts to clean up hazardous materials, which undermine the health, growth, and beauty of communities throughout Illinois,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin. “In addition to improving our environment, restoring Brownfields will provide new opportunities for jobs and economic development. I’ll continue to be a strong advocate for EPA investments like this that make our communities healthier and safer.”
“Turning vacant or underutilized spaces into thriving community hubs is one of the cornerstones of our Rebuild Illinois infrastructure plan, and I’m pleased to see the Biden Administration provide funding for brownfields revitalization in Will County, Chicago, Rockford, Ottawa, and west-central Illinois,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “This support marks another milestone in our journey to advance educational, environmental, economic and health justice for all Illinois residents.”
“Illinois EPA is pleased to see U.S. EPA’s investment to support assessments, cleanups, and redevelopment of brownfields in Illinois,” said Illinois EPA Director John J. Kim. “This funding will assist municipalities and economic development groups in addressing environmental conditions at abandoned and underused properties to spur economic development for our communities.”
The City of Rockford will receive a $3.9 million grant to supplement the agency’s successful Brownfield Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund. With these additional funds the City of Rockford will make even more loans and grants to property owners and communities for the cleanup of contaminated sites. RLF grants provide funding for a grant recipient to capitalize a revolving loan fund and to provide loans and subgrants to carry out cleanup activities at brownfield sites. Through these grants, EPA strengthens the marketplace and encourages stakeholders to leverage resources to clean up and redevelop brownfields. When loans are repaid, the loan amount is returned into the fund and re-lent to other borrowers, providing an ongoing source of capital within a community. These additional funds are being awarded because of the success the recipient has already demonstrated.
“Communities across Northwest and Central Illinois are burdened by abandoned commercial properties – many so polluted that property development isn’t possible,” said Congresswoman Cheri Bustos. “Today, I’m proud to join the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to announce $6.35 million in grants and loans to help clean up these properties and pave the way for growing economic opportunity. I’m thrilled that Rockford, Galesburg, Canton and Monmouth will benefit from this federal investment and I look forward to seeing how this important funding will revitalize these properties and improve these communities.”
“The City of Rockford is very excited for the award of brownfields supplemental Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) grant monies along with the opportunity to continue our partnership with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Region V,” said Rockford Mayor Thomas McNamara. “For over 20 years, Rockford’s RLF Program has played a significant role in cleaning up environmentally challenged properties, paving the way for substantial reinvestment in our urban core. RLFs were a major catalyst in the development of the $24.5 million UW Health Sports Factory, the $87.5 million Embassy Suites by Hilton Rockford Riverfront Hotel & Conference Center, and now the anticipated redevelopment of the Barber Colman campus. As a result of this award, our RLF program will continue to benefit our community economically and improve overall environmental health for our residents.”
Chicago Southwest Development Corporation will receive a $650,000 Brownfields Cleanup Grant to clean up the Azteca Mall Parcel located at 3200 South Kedzie Avenue in the City of Chicago. The cleanup site formerly housed steel manufacturing facilities from 1928 to 1986. It also was home to a diesel repair company, several transportation companies, and most recently a trucking and metal recycling company. It is contaminated with polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, metals, and inorganic contaminants. Grant funds also will be used to support community engagement activities.
“Chicago Southwest Development Corporation’s Focal Point Campus will provide a full spectrum of essential services and commercial opportunities for one of the city’s most underserved neighborhoods,” said Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García. “But after decades of contamination from manufacturing facilities and other companies, the site requires a much-needed clean up. This award represents an important step to restore the land that will house St. Anthony hospital, a workforce training center, and other recreational facilities that will serve countless mixed-status, working-class, Latino and Black families.”
“We are grateful to receive this cleanup grant award from the EPA, as it provides us with critical funding to remediate a contaminated brownfield site in our community and helps pave the way for the development of the Focal Point Community Campus. Thanks to the EPA for recognizing our project!” said Guy A. Medaglia, President & CEO, Chicago Southwest Development Corporation.
The City of Ottawa will receive a $300,000 Brownfields Assessment Grant to conduct 15 Phase I and six Phase II environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to develop four cleanup plans and support community outreach activities. The target areas for this grant are the city’s downtown area and Marquette District. Priority sites include a vacant, underutilized parcel that historically housed car repair shops and sits on a filled canal, a waterfront property that was destroyed by a fire in the early 2000s, and a former glass factory in a residential neighborhood.
“Ottawa has pending development projects in areas that used to have heavy industrial uses including the Downtown Waterfront,” said Mayor Daniel Aussem. “We want to make sure there are no environmental issues when it is time to move forward with these sites. I am excited to have this assessment funding to move our brownfields properties forward. This will help remove a barrier and hopefully streamline redevelopment in our City.”
Prairie Hills Resource Conservation and Development, Inc. will receive a $500,000 Brownfields Assessment Grant. Community-wide grant funds will be used to inventory and select sites for assessment and conduct 14 Phase I and six Phase II environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to develop four cleanup plans and six reuse plans, and to support community outreach activities. The target areas for this grant are South Canton, South Galesburg, West Central Macomb, and Southwest Monmouth. Priority sites include a 33-acre former manufacturing plant that was destroyed by a fire in 1997, a 1-acre parcel that once housed a gas station but has been vacant since 2005, a 4-acre former pottery complex that closed in 2004, and a 6.5-acre former plow manufacturing complex.
EPA has also selected the Prairie Hills Resource Conservation and Development, Inc., for a $1 million Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) Grant. The grant will be used to capitalize a revolving loan fund from which the Prairie Hills Resource Conservation and Development, Inc., will provide up to three loans and up to two subgrants to support cleanup activities. Grant funds also will be used to market the fund and support community engagement activities. RLF activities will focus on South Canton, South Galesburg, West Central Macomb, and Southwest Monmouth.
“The City of Monmouth has successfully used U.S. EPA Brownfields Community Wide Assessment Grant funds to undertake environmental assessments that facilitated the sale and redevelopment of a vacant industrial building resulting in the investment of private monies into a new business in the community, and for the ultimate demolition of a structurally compromised commercial building near the central business district which will create a much needed small landscaped parking lot in the downtown combined with multi-use promenade and wooden pergola for gathering food vendors and pedestrians in a urban park setting,” said Monmouth Mayor Rod Davies. “The City would use any future Brownfields Grants to undertake an environmental assessment of another site containing multiple dilapidated industrial buildings to be demolished and removed to allow for the expansion of an adjoining pet food manufacturing facility for logistical purposes."
The Will County Center for Economic Development will receive a $400,000 Brownfields Assessment Grant to inventory sites and conduct 15 Phase I and eight Phase II environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to develop four cleanup plans and four community visioning sessions, and to support community outreach activities. The target area for this grant is the Des Plaines River Corridor in the Cities of Joliet, Lockport, and Rockdale. Priority sites include an 8-acre floodplain site that has been used as a junkyard and auto salvage facility for decades and is now abandoned, a building in disrepair that was once used for metal fabrication and automobile repair, and an abandoned 14-acre site that has operated since the 1930s as a supply storage yard, truck service facility, auto body shop, and truck and car sales.
"For nearly 30 years, the EPA's Brownfields Assessment Grant has supported the environment of thousands of communities across our nation by cleaning up and reusing land that was once contaminated by hazardous substances," said Congresswoman Marie Newman. "That is why I am thrilled that our very own Will County Center for Economic Development has received a $400,000 grant that will help revitalize the Des Plaines River Corridor by transforming abandoned buildings and junkyards into new safe and sustainable spaces for our great district."
“Thank you to the U.S. EPA for providing the opportunity and funding for Will County to assess areas of environmental concern,” said Doug Pryor, President and CEO of Will County Center for Economic Development. “This grant will serve as a catalyst for needed cleanup and create opportunities for new development and job creation in long disinvested areas of Will County.”
The Brownfields Program delivers on the Biden Administration’s Justice40 initiative, which states that at least 40 percent of the benefits of certain government programs flow to disadvantaged communities. EPA is committed to meeting and exceeding this goal. Approximately 86 percent of the communities selected to receive funding as part of today’s announcement have proposed projects in historically underserved areas. The funding announced today will help communities begin to address the economic, social, and environmental challenges caused by brownfields by stimulating economic opportunity and environmental revitalization in historically overburdened communities. Projects can range from cleaning up buildings with asbestos or lead contamination to assessing and cleaning up abandoned properties that once managed dangerous chemicals.
Since its inception in 1995, EPA’s investments in brownfield sites have leveraged more than $35 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. This has led to significant benefits for communities across the country. For example:
- To date, this funding has led to more than 183,000 jobs in cleanup, construction, and redevelopment.
- Based on grant recipient reporting, recipients leveraged on average $20.43 for each EPA Brownfields dollar and 10.3 jobs per $100,000 of EPA Brownfield Grant funds expended on assessment, cleanup, and revolving loan fund cooperative agreements.
- In addition, an academic peer-reviewed study has found that residential properties near brownfield sites increased in value by 5% to 15% as a result of cleanup activities.
- Finally, analyzing data near 48 brownfields, EPA found an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue for local governments in a single year after cleanup—2 to 7 times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of those brownfield sites.
During the past 10 years, EPA has invested a total of $17,561,820 in Brownfields grants in Illinois communities. Those funds have been used to complete 579 assessments and 34 cleanups and prepare 186 properties for reuse. In addition, those grants have leveraged $254,647,291 and 1,351 jobs.
A brownfield is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Redevelopment made possible through the program includes everything from grocery stores and affordable housing to health centers, museums, greenways, and solar farms.
The next National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on August 16-19, 2022 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Offered every two years, this conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing former commercial and industrial properties. EPA co-sponsors this event with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). Conference registration is open.
For more on Brownfields grants, visit our grant funding website.
For more on EPA’s Brownfields Program, visit our Brownfields website.