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Michigan will chip in a million dollars to help clean up site for new research center in GR

Mar 30, 2015

The former Grand Rapids Press building is being demolished to make way for the new MSU research center.
Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The state is offering a million dollars to help clean up the site where Michigan State University is going to build its biomedical research center.

The site is near Grand Rapids’ “medical mile”; where The Grand Rapids Press was housed for decades.

Susan Wenzlick is a brownfield redevelopment coordinator with Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality. She says there’s a bunch of foundry sand, concrete and metal chunks under the old building where the new research center will be built.

“Back in the day there was foundry fill and demolition debris and just all kinds of junk they would throw into wetland areas so that they could build on them,” Wenzlick said of the site near the Grand River.

“In this case, it’s not a big screaming, flaming, contamination problem. But because they’re moving this soil in order to be able to build on the property the soil has to go someplace,” she said.

MSU will invest more than $85 million in construction. The Grand Rapids Research Center will transfer 80 existing research staff from the Van Andel Research Institute as well as create 180 new research jobs. It’s supposed to open in 2017.

The million dollar DEQ grant will go toward disposal of contaminated soil as well as building demolition, which is underway now.

The DEQ’s Brownfield Redevelopment Program provides funding to local governments for environmental response activities at brownfield properties where redevelopment is proposed. Brownfield properties are vacant or abandoned properties with known or suspected environmental contamination.