140-Acre Housing Development


Detroit, Michigan


The project involves the redevelopment of a 140-acre former public housing development in Detroit, Michigan.  The former public housing development was demolished in the 1990s and in 2003 the Detroit Housing Commission was preparing to redevelop the property into a new residential housing project.  The Commission contracted a HUD Environmental Assessment and Construction Readiness Assessment on the property, which was completed in 2004-2005. 


Subsequent work was completed in 2007 through 2014 (and is currently ongoing) for the developer of the portions of the site designated for rental housing. To date, eight phases of rental development (totaling approximately 50 acres) have been constructed and are fully occupied, and the ninth phase is underway.  The project included the following services:


  • Due Diligence

    • HUD Environmental Assessment 

    • Construction Readiness Assessment

    • MSHDA Phase I ESAs

    • NEPA reviews

    • Phase II and III ESAs

    • BEAs

    • Due Care Plans

    • NFAs


  • Remedial Activities

    • limited soil excavation

    • mold remediation

    • exposure barriers

    • restrictive covenants   


  • Subsurface Investigations

    • soil

    • groundwater

    • soil gas

    • geophysical surveys

    • test trenching

    • geotechnical studies


  • Miscellaneous Services

    • lead in soil particulates assessment

    • due care implementation

    • health and safety plans

    • health and safety training

    • public education

    • roofing inspections

    • engineering evaluations



Challenge: The initial and numerous subsequent investigations identified the presence of site wide soil impacts (PNAs and metals) that exceeded MDEQ Generic Residential Cleanup Criteria for the direct contact exposure pathway. These findings had the potential to scuttle the entire proposed redevelopment due to the costs associated with excavation and disposal of soil over the entire 140-acre site. 


Solution: A risk assessment was completed to determine the relevance of various exposure pathways in light of the proposed property use (residential), characteristics of the soil contamination (extensive PNAs and metals above direct contact criteria) and proposed development features (multifamily rental and senior housing). Based on the risk assessment findings a remedial option was designed that focused on utilizing exposure barriers (building slabs, pavements and clean imported fill in landscape areas), institutional controls (restrictive covenant) and ongoing operation and maintenance activities. Substantial negotiations with the MDEQ resulted in regulatory approval of the remedial action plan and successful redevelopment of the site.