What is a Brownfield?

The City of Auburn Hills has worked on many Brownfield projects over the past twenty years and the question I get asked the most is “What is a Brownfield?”  The technical definition is this:  A brownfield is a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Technical definitions aside, a Brownfield is a site where its future use is affected by environmental contamination.

Over twenty years ago, a Brownfield Redevelopment Board was established in the City of Auburn Hills in an effort to improve and protect the environment, while working to encourage economic development on underutilized properties.   Brownfield redevelopment provides a tool for the public and private sectors to promote sustainable brownfield cleanup and reuse. 

The Brownfield Redevelopment Authority Board is currently working on a project located in downtown Auburn Hills at 3180 Auburn Road.  There was formerly an industrial building on the site and it was removed about three years ago.   The Board has conducted environmental testing on the site and has found that it needs to be cleaned up to protect the Clinton River and to prepare the site for a future development.  The plan is to clean up the property to be redeveloped into a residential area that would complement the downtown.  City staff hosted a meeting today with potential contractors to discuss excavation of the site to remove diesel product that has been found on the site and bring the site up to residential standards.  The plan is to have the property cleaned up and ready for redevelopment in 2023. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties  not only protects the environment and reduces blight, but it also provides an opportunity to increase the value of a property and provide revitalization in areas of the community.

Stephanie Carroll, Economic Development Manager