Cleaning up the mess: redevelopment of urban brownfields

From Economic Development Quarterly

The state of Michigan has had an aggressive program of environmental cleanup efforts targeted at contaminated properties since the early 1970s. Following  legislative changes brownfield redevelopment was made a top economic and environmental priority. This article examines the impact of the initiative. The findings present mixed results, identifying that 15% to 20% of sites showed some improvement between 2001 and 2005. However, it was also observed that a significantly larger number of sites showed deterioration in the same time period.  The article flags the key questions that need to be answered before rejecting policy makers’ claims of success. It is important to consider program variations that exist at the county and local level and recognize that as the evidence in this article suggests the actors responding to state policy and incentives can have a significant impact on program outcomes. Findings from this study can be extrapolated to states with similar brownfield policies.

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This article explores the impact of a brownfield redevelopment initiative in the state of Michigan. Although such programs are often perceived as having a positive impact, there is remarkably little evidence beyond anecdotal examples to support such claims. The reported analysis is based on a 5-year project to create a database capable of assessing the impact of the Michigan program. Findings indicate that a viable market for brownfield redevelopment has been created since the change in Michigan brownfield law. On average, brownfield sites have shown a decline in quality over time; however, many sites demonstrated significant improvement.

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Article information:
Hula, R.C., & Bromley-Trujillo, R. (2010). Cleaning up the mess: redevelopment of urban brownfields Economic Development Quarterly : 10.1177/0891242410365711

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