Brownfield Grant Programs
Are you the owner or developer of a property located in Minneapolis that is known or suspected to be contaminated? If so, you are encouraged to investigate the possibility of obtaining grant funds to assist with the cost of investigation and/or cleanup (remediation).
General Overview of Grant Programs
Grant applications for environmental remediation projects are periodically offered by Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), the Metropolitan Council, and Hennepin County. The City works with potential applicants to review proposed projects and submit to the grantors the applications that reflect the best combination of development potential, consistency with City and neighborhood plans, job and/or affordable housing creation, and sustainable construction practices.
For a property or project located within Minneapolis, the City must (in most cases) be the official applicant, and/or the City Council must approve a resolution in support of the application, for that application to be considered by the grantors. However, the grant application must be prepared by the owner/developer that is seeking the funding. The pre-application process outlined below is designed to generate the City Council resolution of support required by the grantors.
Amount of Grant Funding Available
The next brownfield grant round deadline is November 2, 2020. DEED typically makes about $4 million in brownfield grant funding available per round. The Metropolitan Council usually awards about $2.5 million per round. Hennepin County typically awards between $1 million and $1.5 million.
The City’s Pre-Application Process
If you wish or intend to apply for funding in the November 2, 2020 (fall) brownfield grant round, the City’s pre-application deadline 4:00 p.m. on September 10, 2020.
DEED and Hennepin County ERF Pre-applications: The City will be using its on-line SharePoint site for the submission of all pre-application materials related to DEED and Hennepin County ERF applications. To get access to the SharePoint site please send an email to [email protected] (as soon as possible) with SHAREPOINT ACCESS REQUEST in the subject line; include in that email the following:
- the name of your project
- the names and email addresses of any parties who will need SharePoint access to work on your project’s DEED and/or ERF pre-application(s).
Log-in instructions will be emailed to you. When you log in, there will be a folder (with your project’s name) that contains a blank DEED application and blank Hennepin County ERF application and a blank Grant Assessment Worksheet (GAW). Your completed GAW and your completed DEED and/or Hennepin County ERF pre-application(s) must be uploaded to your project’s SharePoint folder by 4:00 p.m. on September 10, 2020.
MET COUNCIL TBRA APPLICATIONS: The Met Council’s TBRA program has its own online procedure for submitting applications via its WebGrants site. If you wish to seek TBRA funding, you must submit a pre-application via the Met Council’s online WebGrants portal. To get access to the WebGrants site, please send an email to [email protected] (as soon as possible) with WEBGRANTS ACCESS REQUEST in the subject line; include in your email:
- the name of your project
- the names and email addresses of any parties who will need WebGrants access to work on your project’s TBRA pre-application
Please note: this email must be separate from the SharePoint Access Request referred to above (see above). Do not combine the two access requests.
Further instructions regarding the WebGrants site will be emailed to you. Your completed TBRA pre-application must be completed in WebGrants by 4:00 p.m. on September 10, 2020. By that same deadline, you need to upload to your project’s City SharePoint folder a completed Grant Assessment Worksheet [GAW].
City Council Policy Regarding Brownfield Grant Assistance for Housing Projects
At its meeting on August 3, 2018, the Minneapolis City Council directed City staff to require compliance with the affordability provisions of the City’s Unified Housing Policy (“the Policy”) for any Minneapolis development project that (a) includes a housing component and (b) wishes to seek brownfield grant funding. This would require, for example, that at least 20% of the units in a in a residential rental project be affordable to (and occupied by) households earning 60% or less of the Area Median Income (AMI) for a period of not less than 30 years, unless a shorter affordability period is specifically approved (see the Policy for other potentially applicable affordability requirements).
The City Council direction outlined the following two potential exceptions to the Policy’s affordability requirements:
- The City Council has the discretion to approve a waiver of these requirements for a new market-rate housing project that will be developed in an area where none has occurred in the preceding three years.
- The City Council also has the discretion to approve a waiver for any project that has a total combined land value (i.e., the most current assessor’s valuations of all parcels involved in the project) that is less than the total projected environmental investigation/cleanup costs required for the project.
Any project that wishes to request a waiver must submit a letter to City staff requesting one of the two waivers outlined above, accompanied by documentation supporting the project’s eligibility for said waiver. The letter and documentation must be submitted with your project’s pre-application(s) by the September 10, 2020 pre-application deadline. City staff will review waiver requests and recommend approval or denial to the City Council, which will then make the final decision(s) regarding which waiver(s) to grant (if any).
Email Distribution List
If you are involved in a project that currently plans to seek grant funding in the fall 2020 brownfield grant round, please notify Kevin Carroll, who is creating a separate email distribution list for prospective grant applicants and other interested parties. The email distribution list will be used to provide periodic updates regarding the process and to solicit any supplemental information that the City may need in connection with its review of the submitted pre-applications.
City Grant-Related Fees
The City of Minneapolis has a grant application processing fee, which must accompany any pre-applications that are submitted to the City in connection with the fall 2020 brownfield grant round.
The fee per project is:
- $750 for a single investigation or cleanup pre-application
- $1,125 for two pre-applications
- $1,500 for three pre-applications
Make your check payable to City of Minneapolis and deliver it to Kevin Carroll at:
Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED)
Attention: Kevin Carroll
Please note: pre-application fees are non-refundable, and shall be retained regardless of whether an application (a) is ultimately submitted to a grantor or (b) results in a grant award. The City of Minneapolis also has a grant award administration fee in an amount equal to 7% of the amount of any awarded grant(s). Neither grant funds nor City funds may be used to pay this fee. A lower fee (3%) will be applied to housing projects that comply with the City’s Affordable Housing Policy (20% or more of the housing units at or below 60% of the Area Median Income) and commercial/industrial projects located within areas designated as "eligible priority" by the Great Streets Neighborhood Business District Program. For projects in compliance with the City’s Affordable Housing Policy, the grant award administration fee is due at the time of closing with the project’s primary lender. For all other projects, the grant award administration fee is due when the Funding Agreement between the City and the developer is executed. Awarded grant funds are not available until the project is fully-funded and ready to begin construction.
Brownfield Grant Funding Sources (General Information)
- Contamination Investigation and Cleanup Program
Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED)
- Tax Base Revitalization Account (TBRA)
- Environmental Response Fund (ERF)
- 2018 Comparison of Competitive State, Regional and County Brownfield Financial Resources
Application Forms (Required for the City’s Pre-Application Process and for the Grantors' Application Processes)
For More Information
For more information, contact:
Kevin Carroll, Principal Project Coordinator
Technical Assistance; Federal Brownfield Funding
- Voluntary Investigation and Cleanup (VIC) Program
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s VIC program provides technical assistance and administrative or legal assurances for individuals or businesses seeking to investigate or cleanup contaminated property.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]
The EPA provides programs and funding to assist with the investigation and/or removal of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants.
General Background Information about Brownfields
The Environmental Protection Agency defines brownfields as “abandoned, idled or underused industrial and commercial facilities where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination.” The additional costs, time and uncertainty associated with redevelopment often make businesses and developers hesitant to consider these sites without public involvement. Minneapolis is a recognized leader in working with county, regional and state funding and regulatory agencies to address these concerns and successfully return brownfields to productive uses.
Examples of brownfields the City has prepared for productive use include:
- properties in North Washington Jobs Park (former railroad yards in the Seward South Industrial Park)
- a site in northeast Minneapolis that is now the Quarry Shopping Center
- former rail yards in the Mill Quarter and the Minneapolis Riverfront District that are being redeveloped for riverfront housing and other uses
City staff members have also assisted with the cleanup of scattered sites throughout Minneapolis.
Brownfield Program Goals
The goals of the City’s brownfield program are:
- Providing sites for living-wage jobs to Minneapolis residents
- Providing sites for new housing options
- Increasing the tax base
- Improving environmental conditions
- Solidifying and strengthening intergovernmental cooperation, and increasing efficiency in delivery of community services
- Recycling city sites to maximize use of existing infrastructure
Since 1994 the City has successfully initiated the clean-up of hundreds of sites, resulting in private investment in excess of $1 billion. Many of the sites were located in former rail yards; others are former gas stations or converted industrial buildings.
The majority of the remediated sites in the early program years were redeveloped for light industrial use, as it is typically less expensive to clean sites to industrial standards than to residential standards. However, increasing numbers of brownfield sites are being redeveloped for mixed-use or residential development after remediation. Doing so is relatively expensive, which makes the availability of grant funds even more critical to a project’s success.
Last updated Nov 23, 2020