The International Information Center for Geotechnical Engineers

The Economic and Social Impacts of Brownfield Redevelopment - Abstract


Henry Ford’s invention of the assembly line changed the automotive industry forever, and the identity of the state of Michigan changed along with it. The start of mass production of Ford’s Model T on Piquette Avenue in Detroit in December 1913 marked the beginning of an age of prosperity for Southeast Michigan. A century later, it has left a legacy of contamination in its place. As of 2016, Detroit was home to over 1,000 brownfield sites according to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ 2017). Detroit’s abandoned factories and overgrown lots have given the city a reputation across the world as a city lost to the age of manufacturing.

Those in Michigan see the future of Detroit a little differently. Public, private and community partners across Michigan see the remediation of Brownfield sites as essential for revitalizing this area blighted by industrial decay and urban sprawl. In the past decade community partners, both private and public, have demonstrated a strong commitment to incentivizing the cleanup of these sites. The role of the public sector in the recycling of brownfield sites in southeast Michigan is essential to the redevelopment of Detroit. However, many see this role as public money going into the pockets of private investors (Perkins 2017). The public-private partnership, as it is referred, is essential to the redevelopment of Detroit.

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