Thursday morning's news that Surly Brewing would be getting over $500,000 to clean up pollution on the site of its future brewery is big stuff—and it highlights a pot of public money that's going to be critical in redeveloping many parts of Southwest Minneapolis.
According to the Star Tribune, Surly won a grant from the Met Council that will cover around one fifth of the total cost to remediate its desired Prospect Park site. The project's total budget is around $20 million. The grant comes from the Council's Livable Communities project, one of several grant programs from the state, counties, and cities that developers can access if they need help cleaning up a potentially contaminated site.
Given the (often prohibitively) expensive nature of cleaning up a brownfield, these grants often get billed as ways to increase home values, create construction jobs, reduce public health threats and redevelop neglected or obsolete property.
One look at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's "What's In My Neighborhood" map shows how important these grants are to local developers. Hundreds of properties, from ex-gas stations like the Linden Hills Famous Dave's restaurant to houses with leaky, disused heating oil tanks fill the map with brightly colored symbols. Along the area's major commercial corridors and nodes, a good proportion of the commercial properties are listed as having contamination or hazardous materials like asbestos.
Early this year, the City of Minneapolis and the State of Minnesota are expected to announce a new slate of recipients for their biannual environmental remediation grants.