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Economic Assistance for Environmental Remediation | Wisconsin Historical Society

General Information

Economic Assistance for Environmental Remediation

Economic Assistance for Environmental Remediation | Wisconsin Historical Society
EnlargeFormer service station

Copeland's Service Station, 1939

Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Part of rehabilitating this former service station into a coffee shop included remediating the site. The building owners were able to receive financial assistance to help with this necessary step. Source: Jim Draeger. View the property record: AHI 120374

If you own or plan to buy a historic commercial building, you may have concerns about possible environmental hazards on the building site. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has a program to assist property owners who discover conditions on the site of their older commercial building that require remediation. This program may provide economic benefits if you are interested in restoring an older commercial or industrial building.

Wisconsin contains hundreds of commercial and industrial buildings built in the 19th and early 20th centuries whose businesses produced materials now known to be hazardous. Rather than requiring owners to demolish these buildings due to the environmental concerns, the WEDC provides financial assistance to help property owners do a restoration and adaptive reuse project on their properties.

Blight Elimination and Brownfield Redevelopment Program (BEBR)

The WEDC’s Blight Elimination and Brownfield Redevelopment (BEBR) program provides grant funds to assist local governments, businesses and individuals with assessing and remediating the environmental contamination of an abandoned, idle or underused industrial or commercial facility or site. Any municipality, individual or business may apply for funds under one condition: the party that caused the environmental contamination, and any person who possessed or controlled the environmental contaminant, is either unknown, cannot be located or is financially unable to pay for remediation.

Eligible Expenditures Under BEBR

The WEDC’s BEBR grant program may be used for brownfield redevelopment or associated environmental remediation activities on sites with demonstrated soil and/or groundwater contamination. Eligible costs are determined during a review of the grant application. However, grant funds typically may be used for the following:

  • The environmental investigation, remediation or groundwater monitoring of the site
  • The removal of underground storage tanks or hazardous waste containers
  • The acquisition cost of the brownfield site 
  • Site clearance, building demolition or building renovation
  • Asbestos and lead paint abatement
  • Infrastructure improvement

Applicants may apply for BEBR grants up to $1,250,000. Funding may be used for acquisition or construction, a feasibility study or a condition assessment. The BEBR program accepts applications throughout the year. Potential applicants are encouraged to contact the WEDC in the early stages of the program.

Assistance with Regulatory Compliance

While the WEDC can offer funding for brownfield projects, developers and property owners are also advised to consult with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on brownfield matters. The process of cleaning up a contaminated site can become confusing under different regulatory programs, and the DNR’s Remediation & Redevelopment Program provides a streamlined approach. Through its “One Cleanup Program,” the DNR clarifies the requirements and expectations of the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and expedites cleanups of all contaminated sites, including brownfields. Program staff can assist property owners, developers and consultants in understanding how to meet Wisconsin’s standards and satisfy both the WEDC and EPA regulations.