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EPA Announces the Selection of 3 Communities to Receive more than $1.9 Million in Funding for Brownfields Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup Grants to Address Contaminated Properties in Southern Wisconsin

Contact Information: 
Joshua Singer (

For Immediate Release: No. 19-OPA042

CHICAGO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing that 149 communities across America including Milwaukee, Racine and Sheboygan County in Wisconsin have been selected to receive funding for brownfield site revitalization to help local governments redevelop vacant and unused properties, transforming communities and local economies. Milwaukee has been selected to receive a $390,000 Brownfield grant; the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee (RACM) an $800,000 Brownfields grant; the Racine Redevelopment Authority has been selected to receive a $500,000 Brownfield grant; and Sheboygan County has been selected to receive a $300,000 Brownfield grant.

“These grants fulfill several of President Trump’s top priorities simultaneously: helping communities in need transform contaminated sites into community assets that not only create jobs and jumpstart economic development but also improve public health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “We are targeting these funds to areas that need them the most. Approximately 40 percent of the selected recipients are receiving Brownfields grants for the first time, which means we are reaching areas that may previously been neglected, and 108 of the selected communities have identified sites or targeted areas that fall within Opportunity Zones.”

“Many communities are ready to move forward with redevelopment, they just lack the funding to get started,” said EPA Regional Administrator Cathy Stepp. “Our Brownfields grants can jump-start the process and provide much-needed support to begin the assessment and cleanup process.”  

The projects selected for funding include:

  • City of Milwaukee – to remediate the former William McKinley School on West Vliet Street. Once asbestos and lead paint have been removed, plans are to renovate the building to become new housing for veterans and their families. Milwaukee received its first EPA Brownfield grant over 20 years ago. Among many other projects a previous EPA Brownfield grant paid for site investigations in the Menomonee Valley, which has since won multiple awards for its successful redevelopment.
  • Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee (RACM) – will assist RACM with its long-term work of redeveloping the 30th St Industrial Corridor. The Brownfield grant will be used for the investigation and cleanup of contaminated sites with input from neighborhood residents. RACM’s previous Brownfield grants have led to the cleanup of nearly 50 sites and the investigation of another 120 properties.
  • Racine Redevelopment Authority – funds will be used at two sites in the Water Street Redevelopment Area.  Contaminated soils will be excavated and safely disposed of and a cap will be constructed at both the Machinery Row site and the property at 615 Marquette Street. When cleanup is completed, plans are to pursue mixed-use development at the two sites.
  • Sheboygan County has been selected to receive a $300,000 Brownfield grant. The federal funds will be used to investigate environmental conditions at properties in the Innovation District and at other sites in the city of Sheboygan. Environmental assessments are a critical part of the redevelopment process because even low levels of contamination can prevent a site from being sold or reused. The county has received two previous Brownfield grants, which have been used for investigations of 28 properties.

“Environmental remediation can be an important part of urban reinvention, and, we know, successful reinvention requires good partnerships,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. “Milwaukee has worked with the United States Environmental Protection Agency for decades with very positive results for the people of Milwaukee. We are grateful to the Federal Government for its continued support.”

“We are excited to partner with the EPA to restore more than 20 acres of former industrial property available for redevelopment, right downtown on the Root River,” said Racine Mayor Cory Mason.

“Sheboygan County had previously been awarded the EPA Brownfield Assessment Grant in 2014 and 2017 and it has had a tremendous impact on our community resulting in over $60 million in redevelopment,” Sheboygan County Administrator Adam Payne said. “We are thrilled to be awarded the grant again and will continue our strong public/private relationships in the County to pursue more redevelopment opportunities. Identifying and better understanding these areas is a key step towards increased economic development opportunities, cleaning up areas of our community, and making Sheboygan County an even better place to live and work.”

Grants awarded by EPA’s Brownfield Program provide communities across the country with an opportunity to transform contaminated sites into community assets that attract jobs and achieve broader economic development outcomes while taking advantage of existing infrastructure. For example, Brownfields grants have been shown to:

  • Increase Local Tax Revenue: A study of 48 brownfields sites found that an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional local tax revenue was generated in a single year after cleanup. This is two to seven times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of these sites.
  • Increase Residential Property Values: Another study found that property values of homes near revitalized brownfields sites increased between 5% and 15% following cleanup.

One hundred and eight communities selected for grants this year have identified sites or targeted areas in census tracts designated as federal Opportunity Zones. An Opportunity Zone is an economically-distressed community where new investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment.

“I am truly excited to join as EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announces over $64 million in Brownfield funding,” said Scott Turner, Executive Director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council. “The Brownfields grant program is a tremendous vehicle for bringing real revitalization and transformation to the distressed communities of America. As the Executive Director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council I am pleased that EPA continues to support the Council and the President’s work in this area. In fact, of the 149 communities selected for these grants, 108 will benefit communities with Opportunity Zones. I look forward to seeing the impact that these grants will have on neighborhoods and citizens across the country.” 

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. There are estimated to be more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S. As of May 2019, under the EPA Brownfields Program 30,153 properties have been assessed, and 86,131 acres of idle land have been made ready for productive use. In addition, communities have been able to use Brownfields grants to leverage 150,120 jobs and more than $28 billion of public and private funding.

In 2018 Congress reauthorized the statutory authority for the Brownfields Program. The reauthorization included changes to the program to expand the list of entities eligible for Brownfields grants, increase the limit of individual Brownfields cleanup grants to $500,000, and add grant authority for Multipurpose grants. These important changes will help communities address and cleanup more complex brownfield sites.

The 2019 National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on December 11-13 in Los Angeles, California. Offered every two years, this conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing formerly utilized commercial and industrial properties. EPA cosponsors this event with the International City/County Management Association.

List of the FY 2019 Applicants Selected for Funding:

For more on the Brownfields Grants:

For more on EPA’s Brownfields Program:

More on the 2019 Brownfields Conference: