Brownfield Basics

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

Importance of Redevelopment

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


Financial Incentives

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.

Tax Increment Financing (TIF)

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.

Tax Increment Financing

Eligible Activities

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

Additional Activities

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

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

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.