Recycling Brownfields

Problem

Like many older industrial cities, Flint is left with contaminated and abandoned brownfield sites from old factories. These unused sites have been a major impediment to the redevelopment of Flint’s downtown area, negatively affecting the quality of life and economic value of surrounding communities. Unfortunately, the high costs of traditional remediation for such areas often prevent reuse.

Solution

Mayor Walling has proposed thinking about redevelopment in a new way -- through the lens of recycling. In a pilot project utilizing this new paradigm, Flint is working to transform the site of a former Chevrolet plant, Chevy in the Hole, into Chevy Commons, a parkland along the Flint River with wetlands, woodlands, grasslands and other green areas. Thinking about “recycling” space means looking to reuse or renew, and requires making success out of failure and converting costs to revenues by finding alternative uses for waste products, working in alignment with natural processes, and serving the public in new ways.