Susan Wenzlick: Brownfields: we’ve all seen
them. The abandoned gas station on the corner, the
vacant, contaminated industrial site. This video series is about the partnerships
that make brownfield redevelopment possible. This is Brownfield Flip. [spooky piano] Raymond Minervini: This place was really creepy. It was a former state mental hospital, so
there was a stigma. I think it is almost subliminal. In a lot of people, when you see a big, giant
old building, you immediately leap to old ghost stories or movies that you’ve seen as
a kid… Raymond Minervini: …Well, you know what’s
even scarier is “how do fix this old building up?” [ uplifting acoustic guitar] It was quite remarkable, this was a castle
in northern Michigan in an old lumber town. I mean, when this place was occupied it doubled
the population of Traverse City! This place has undergone a huge transformation:
we have homes, we have retail, we have restaurants, we have offices, we have cafes, we have coffee—and
it gives it a life of its own and it is cool to see it evolving in a way that we couldn’t
do on our own. Jean Derenzy: Oh, there are so many success
stories when it comes to the Village. Just the community coming together. The community commitment on this project is
so valuable. Raymond Minervini: We’ve had the Summer Microbrew
and Music Festival: music going all day, craft beer from around the state and the country. We’ve had the Wine and Art Festival, which
has been held every June… and it is open Like, for the public. Right now. Anybody can walk up here and enjoy this beautiful
place and these grand buildings. Because they stepped forward for their business
or they do business here, or they buy a condo or rent an apartment… THEY become part of that preservation effort. And now there is something that actually brings
people to Traverse City on its own: it’s the Grand Traverse Commons. It’s the Village at Grand Traverse Commons. I think what’s really cool is that this has
become a place for gathering or celebrating. Weddings have literally taken place right
here where I am standing with the backdrop of this beautiful architecture. Jean Derenzy: My daughter got married there
last year and it made you feel like you were going back in time. It was absolutely stunning. Working on the Village at Grand Traverse Commons
has been an incredible experience. Not many people will ever have a chance to
say that they were involved on a historical renovation, let alone a historical renovation
AND a brownfield project. Raymond Minervini: It has become clear after
fifteen years of working on this project that none of it would have been possible without
the MDEQ’s Brownfield Redevelopment Program. The environmental expenses on this site were
anywhere between $9 and $13 a square foot. It is a great story! This was Traverse City’s giant white elephant. If we were able to take a GIANT 400,000 square
foot white elephant that was a former mental hospital and preserve and reuse it, just imagine
what can be done with the historic church in your home town or the old bank downtown
that is looking for a new use. Hopefully this provides inspiration for other people to be motivated and to make good things happen. Susan Wenzlick: Hi, I’m Susan Wenzlick,
a brownfield coordinator with Department of Environmental Quality. If you enjoyed hearing about this brownfield
project, you can learn more about this and other brownfield success stories on our website
(www.michigan.gov/deqbrownfields). Thanks for watching and stay tuned for another
episode of Brownfield Flip!