EPA cleanup grant request could move redevelopment projects into higher gear

Tuesday evening, the Racine City Council could take a significant step in the redevelopment of two key properties in the downtown area. On the Council agenda is a request to apply for Brownfield Cleanup Grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection agency for Water Street redevelopment properties (700, 900, and 1010 Water Street—the Machinery Row sites) as well as the property at 615 Marquette St.

Both properties are under the control of the Redevelopment Authority of Racine.

According to the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting: “The grant would cover cost of environmental cleanup (to residential standards) through the remedial excavation of identified “hot spots” of both petroleum and hazardous materials followed by capping the spots with crushed concrete.”

The ”hot spots” were identified during investigations of the properties. Original plans called for private developers to conduct environmental cleanup of the sites after acquisition from the RDA.

“We believe the grant funding provides an excellent opportunity to enhance the value of the properties and speed the re-use of the properties while the planning and marketing efforts for the development area are underway,” said Amy Connolly, City of Racine Director Development, in a memorandum prepared in support of the request.

The federal grant requires a 20 percent match of the total cleanup funds awarded. If the City sees the full $500,000 it hopes to receive, the required match would be $100,000. The match, according to documents provided for Tuesday meeting, must be in the form of a contribution of money, labor, material or services from a non-federal source. The City of Racine, through both the 2018 and 2019 city budget, has already approved expenditure of funds in site preparation of over $6,400,000; including demolition, site preparation, environmental investigation, and development of the river walk. This spending, the documentation notes, has led to future redevelopment of the site.

Why now?

“The RDA hopes to build on their ongoing revitalization process by focusing on the Root River Corridor,” notes the materials prepared for Tuesday’s meeting. “The Root River corridor that was once a bustling industrial district in the heart of the City is poised to be redeveloped for primarily multi-family residential use with some commercial businesses to attract the thousands of individuals and families anticipated to move to the area for work at the new Foxconn manufacturing facility and supporting industries.”

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