State grants $205K to East Jefferson Meijer development to remove contaminants
The state environment department has granted $205,000 to revitalize three East Jefferson Avenue properties, including the future site of a Meijer.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality said Friday it awarded a brownfield redevelopment grant to East Jefferson Development LLC to remove contaminated soil on three properties in the 1400 block of the avenue. The developer is building a $60 million multi-story retail and apartment building there.
"We love being able to help move toward the redevelopment of the city," said Michelle Bakun, the department's brownfield coordinator. "This development met the guidelines of things we look for. It's close to downtown, there's lots of job creation, and it provides housing that is much needed in that area in Detroit."
Brownfield grants go toward vacant or abandoned properties with known or suspected environmental contamination.
Businesses that shuttered in the 1960s contaminated the soil and groundwater of the Jefferson parcels, officials said. According to a news release from the state department, gas stations, car repair shops, a dry cleaner, a book binder, and manufacturing and industrial business all may have contributed.
Bakun said contaminants such as lead and other metals were above recommended residential levels and since the development includes an underground parking garage, the soil needs to be removed and taken to a licensed landfill for disposal.
"We cover that difference," Bakun said, "to level the playing field for those who are choosing to build on properties such as these."
The new building rising at 1475 E. Jefferson Ave., will offer 213 new studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments, with 20 percent being subsidized affordable housing. It will also offer 42,000 square feet of commercial space. Meijer's "small format" fresh grocery market will lease most of that space for its third location in the city.
The development also will have 221 underground residential parking spaces and 120 ground-level retail parking spaces.
Dennis Archer Jr., the principal at East Jefferson Development LLC, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The city of Detroit worked with the developers to apply for the state grant. Mayor Mike Duggan has hailed the project as helping to fulfill the city’s vision of having “20-minute neighborhoods” where residents can walk or bike to essential places.
The properties are within walking distance of the Detroit Riverwalk, William G. Milliken State Park and Habor, the Dequindre Cut Greenway and downtown businesses and restaurants.
According to the news release, for every dollar in grants or loans from the state environment department, an average of $32 is returned to the state's economy.