Tax Base Revitalization Account (TBRA) Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the TBRA?
2. How and when are TBRA funds available?
3. Who is eligible to apply for TBRA grants?
4. What types of redevelopment projects are eligible for TBRA grants?
5. What criteria are used to determine which applications are selected to receive TBRA funding?
6. What is the minimum and maximum TBRA amount of funding that can be requested?
7. What investigation costs are eligible for TBRA grants?
8. What specific cleanup costs related to soil and ground water contamination are eligible for TBRA funds?
9. Can TBRA grant funds be used to clean up petroleum-based contamination?
10. Are the disposal costs of other hazardous wastes, non-hazardous wastes and debris eligible for TBRA funding?
11. If a redevelopment project includes a housing component, is a portion of that housing required to be affordable?
12. Is funding for site acquisition eligible?
13. Is funding for building demolition eligible?
14. Can a project be funded if eminent domain was used for acquisition?
15. Can funds be requested for cleanup costs incurred between grant rounds?
16. Can previously funded projects get additional TBRA funding if they encounter additional cleanup costs?
17. Is the funding targeted for Minneapolis and Saint Paul?
18. How can I learn more about brownfield cleanup funding opportunities?
19. Is a local funding match required?
20. If a TBRA application is funded, what are the obligations that accompany the grant?

 

1.   What is the TBRA?

The Tax Base Revitalization Account (TBRA) is one of three voluntary grant programs provided by the Metropolitan Council’s Livable Communities program. TBRA provides funds to investigate and clean up polluted land, ground water or hazardous materials in existing buildings (i.e., brownfields) for economic redevelopment projects that enhance the tax base of a municipality while promoting job retention or job growth and/or the production of affordable housing.

2.    How and when are TBRA funds available?

TBRA funds are raised by a legislatively authorized levy capped at $5 million annually.

For 2015, applications for contamination investigation or cleanup associated with a redevelopment project will be accepted twice (the first regular business day on or after May 1 and November 1). Advance preparation is a key to a successful application. For example, it can take 60-75 days to compile all of the environmental information and approvals necessary to complete a contamination cleanup grant application. Some cities require up to 6 weeks advance notice to issue a required city resolution of support for a grant application.

The TBRA is coordinated with complementary programs at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), Hennepin County and Ramsey County.

3.   Who is eligible to apply for TBRA grants?

Eligible applicants are

  • Statutory or home rule charter cities or towns, or
  • Metropolitan counties, or
  • Local development authorities (e.g., Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Economic Development Authority or Port Authority)

Redevelopment sites must be located in communities that are participating in the Metropolitan Livable Communities Housing Incentives Program.

Typically, applications involve a public-private partnership between one of the eligible applicants listed above and a private developer or land-owner to complete a redevelopment.

4. What types of redevelopment projects are eligible for TBRA grants?

TBRA grants may be used for affordable and market rate residential, commercial or industrial redevelopment projects. Sites may be privately or publicly-owned at the time of application.

5. What criteria are used to determine which applications are selected to receive TBRA funding?

TBRA offers two types of grants:

  • contamination site investigation, and
  • contamination cleanup.

Contamination site investigation

Applications for contamination site investigation funding will be evaluated according to the extent to which they address the following criteria as compared with other competing proposals in a grant cycle:

  • Lead to the cleanup of the most contaminated sites and improve the environment within the 7-county metropolitan region
    Redevelopment sites to be investigated for contaminants located in the soil or ground water; or asbestos or lead-based paint in buildings are likely to be the most contaminated sites among competing proposals. The sites will be cleaned up to a standard that provides the greatest improvement to the environment and greatest reduction in the human health risks.  Cleanup plans include the use of greener remediation techniques.

  • Support compact and efficient development
    The proposed construction plan following investigation and cleanup support the Council’s Regional Development Framework to the extent that the site

    • increases the density of development when compared to the prior use.
    • is located in areas served by transit, and
    • uses vacant infill land or re-uses existing buildings,
  • Are poised for redevelopment 

    The project schedule and other supporting documentation indicates that the project is
    ready to proceed with an investigation, is preparing to conduct a cleanup (if needed) and has demonstrated the anticipated market demand for redevelopment once the environmental issues have been addressed.

  • Additional factors

    Additional factors considered include how a redevelopment project will improve the tax base, support job growth or add affordable housing and leverage other funding. Specifically, we are looking for proposals that will

    • improve the city’s tax base quickly
    • support a high potential for increasing or retaining jobs or adding affordable housing, and
    • leverage other funding to help address environmental issues.

Contamination cleanup

Applications for contamination cleanup funding will be evaluated according to the extent to which they address the following criteria as compared with other competing proposals in a grant cycle:

  • Clean up the most contaminated sites and improve the environment within the 7-county metropolitan region

    Redevelopment sites with soil or ground water contaminants or asbestos or lead-based paint in buildings are likely to be the most contaminated sites among competing proposals. Sites will be cleaned up to a standard that provides the greatest improvement to the environment and greatest reduction in the human health risks. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency helps evaluate the cleanup plans submitted with each funding request based on the environmental threats and health risks found at each project site.

  • Increase the local tax base of communities

    Redeveloping a site will provide the greatest increase in the tax base of the city or township in which the project is located as measured by the net tax capacity of each parcel that makes up the redevelopment site. The evaluation is based on the projected amount of tax base increase relative to the amount of TBRA funding requested.

  • Add and/or preserve living wage jobs or produce affordable housing

    Once cleaned up and redeveloped, project sites will add or preserve living wage jobs or add new affordable housing units within the seven-county region. Key considerations for jobs are the number of new jobs and/or retained jobs, the number of living wage jobs and the number of jobs in areas of concentrated poverty. Key considerations for affordable housing are the number of new ownership units or rental units affordable to households earning 80% of the area median income (AMI) or lower.

  • Proposed redevelopments support the policies identified in the Metropolitan Council’s development guide (Thrive MSP 2040)

    Redevelopment projects are expected to be designed and implemented in a way that directly support the Council’s development goals, existing regional investments and regional system’s plans. Key considerations are

    • new construction or reuse of existing buildings that show an increase in current job or residential densities currently on site,
    • expand range of housing choices based on building types and housing services (e.g., senior assisted-living) in comparison to existing housing in the neighborhood or city,
    • are designed to optimize the use of existing transit services,
    • use existing sanitary sewer services efficiently,
    • improve surface water quality by using best management practices for storm water,
    • conserve and enhance vital natural resources such as sources of drinking water supply and identified habitat conservation areas, and
    • are designed to encourage use of existing parks or walking trails.
  • Are poised for redevelopment
    The project schedule and other supporting documentation indicates that the project is

    • ready to proceed with the needed contamination cleanup,
    • has identified a committed developer for the project,
    • has demonstrated a financial commitment for redevelopment,
    • have obtained site design approvals or needed zoning changes, and
    • has identified likely end users for the site once the environmental issues have been addressed.
  • Additional Factors

    Additional factors considered include sustainable building practices, partnerships and the overall community support for affordable housing. Specifically, we are looking for proposals where

    • Development partnerships formed present innovative public and private relationships for cleaning up brownfields.
    • Redevelopment sites are located in cities and townships that have demonstrated success in adding and maintaining affordable housing in the region.

    All applications received must score a minimum of 50% of the total points available to be eligible for an award. For all applications, we consider the likelihood of an investigation or cleanup being completed without the need for a TBRA grant based on other public and private funding sources available. Contaminated sites with identified parties responsible for the contamination that are capable of carrying out the required remediation are not eligible to apply. for a grant.

6. What is the minimum and maximum TBRA amount of funding that can be requested?

There is no single minimum grant request amount. However, it is expected that the total eligible cleanup costs are equal to one percent (1%) or less than the total project costs. It is expected that modest cleanup costs can be reasonably absorbed in the overall project costs without Council assistance. (Please note the total eligible cleanup costs may be higher than the amount of TBRA funding an applicant requests.)

Although there is no maximum request amount, the maximum grant award allowed to a single city is 50% of the total funding amount available during a single funding cycle. If multiple projects are awarded within a single city, the maximum award is the sum total of all the awarded amounts.

Although the costs of addressing contamination for each project funded vary considerably, the average TBRA award amount during the past three years was $203,525.

However, applications will be determined ineligible for funding if:

  • an analysis of the proposal determines the funding is unnecessary for the project to proceed;
  • a private responsible party has been identified and is likely financially capable of carrying out the remediation or cleanup in the foreseeable future;
  • upon review, the application does not score at least 50% (75 points) of the total points available to be awarded (150 points)
  • project has an application under review for cleanup of contamination through the Livable Communities Transit-Oriented Development program with an overlapping review period

Applications may be determined ineligible for funding if:

  • adequate clean-up funding is available from other public and private sources;
  • the project requires extensive new (regional) infrastructure beyond that which is already planned
  • the proposal is not consistent with the redevelopment component of the municipality's comprehensive plan (Minn. Stat. section 473.859, Subd. 5).

7. What investigation costs are eligible for TBRA grants?

In order to assist projects in different phases of the development cycle, TBRA applicants have two options for requesting funding for environmental site investigations:

  • apply for a contamination site investigation grant, or
  • apply for reimbursement of recently incurred environmental site investigation costs as part of a contamination cleanup grant application

The key difference is the when the costs have been or will be incurred.

Contamination Investigation grants are intended for applicants that have a redevelopment site with suspected or perceived contamination and are seeking public funding to determine the scope and severity of the contamination and to develop a cleanup plan. Funding requests must be for investigations costs yet to be incurred.

Contamination Cleanup grants are intended for projects that have recently completed their cleanup site investigation (within 180 days of applying for a cleanup grant) and are seeking public funding to assist with the cost of implementing a cleanup plan for eligible activities and begin redevelopment on a specific project. Funding requests are for investigation costs already incurred.

For both types of grants – Contamination Site Investigation and Contamination Cleanup – requests for funds to be used for investigation purposes are eligible for costs associated with

  • Phase I environmental site investigations,
  • Phase II environmental site investigations,
  • preparation of a remedial action work plan,
  • preparation of Response Action Plans (RAPs) developed in conjunction with the MPCA for hazardous waste or Development Response Action Plans (DRAPs) developed in conjunction with the PCA for petroleum,
  • hazardous materials surveys,
  • preparation of abatement plans  and specifications that meet AHERA (Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) standards for asbestos, and/or
  • preparation of lead-based paint abatement plans that meet MDH standards and the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

8. What specific cleanup costs related to soil and ground water contamination are eligible for TBRA funds?


TBRA funding can help pay for much of the cost difference between building on a contaminated site and building on a clean site. Grants may be used to pay for soil and ground water contamination cleanup activities that are required as part of a Response Action Plan approved by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Some typical eligible soil remediation activities include excavation, transportation, disposal fees for removal of contaminated soil, back fill and grading of clean soil. The costs for replacing contaminated fill with clean fill are eligible to the extent that the soil replacement is related to removing contamination. In order to minimize the amount of funds needed to replace contaminated soils, applicants are encouraged to design and implement projects in a way that minimizes the amount of backfill needed to replace the contaminated soils (e.g. underground parking, basements). Any underground use must be consistent with the approved RAP. In-situ remediation costs are also eligible.

Some typical eligible ground water costs include pumping and treating of contaminated water; and installation of ground water monitoring wells. Actions documenting environmental monitoring systems or the successful implementation of a RAP, such as technical writing are also eligible for reimbursement.

Eligible cleanup activities must be incurred after grant funding has been awarded. Grant funds are paid on a reimbursement basis. Grant funds for cleanup costs incurred prior to the award date apply only to cleanups that have previously been awarded grant funds for the same redevelopment project and must meet the conditions outlined in question number 15 below. Projects that have received TBRA funds and requested a RAP amendment and received approval from the MPCA must submit the updated documents to the TBRA coordinator prior to submission of the corresponding payment request for soil or groundwater remediation.

Only soil remediation costs directly related to contaminated soil and ground water are eligible for TBRA grant funds. Examples of ineligible soil remediation costs:

  • Excess contaminated soil that does not exceed the appropriate cleanup standards (Tier I Residential or Tier II Industrial) but does not meet the standard for “clean fill” is eligible for reimbursement of disposal costs only. (The standard costs for excavating, loading and transporting of mildly contaminated soil are not eligible.)
  • The costs related to improving the geotechnical qualities of the soil for building purposes are not eligible.
  • The cost of removing clean fill or excess clean soil is also not eligible.

9. Can TBRA grant funds be used to clean up petroleum-based contamination?

Costs for remediation of contamination related to above and below ground petroleum storage tanks and other petroleum based contamination are eligible for consideration only after all available Petrofund sources have been utilized. The Petrofund is administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

TBRA grant funds may be used to reimburse cleanup project costs associated with petroleum-impacted soil and ground water that are required as part of a Development Response Action Plan approved by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Grant funds are paid on a reimbursement basis.

10.   Are the disposal costs of other hazardous wastes, non-hazardous wastes and debris eligible for TBRA funding?

Remediation funds for abatement of asbestos or lead-based paint during renovations for adaptive reuse or pre-demolition of an existing building are eligible. Costs for abating other types of hazardous contamination found in buildings such as mercury in thermostats, oils in door closers, and other contamination related to HVAC systems are not eligible for reimbursement. Non-hazardous wastes such as household waste and solid waste including construction debris and old tires are not eligible for TBRA grant funding.

11.   If a redevelopment project includes a housing component, is a portion of that housing required to be affordable?

No, there is no minimum number of affordable residential units required to apply for a TBRA grant. However, adding new ownership or rental units affordable to households earning 60% of the area median income (AMI) or lower is one of the primary criteria used in evaluating TBRA applications. Redevelopment projects that include housing are evaluated on the amount of affordable housing units to be provided relative to the amount of TBRA funding requested for the project. A minimum of 20% of the total housing units proposed must be affordable for a project to be considered for affordable housing points. In addition, the affordable housing must meet the Metropolitan Council's policy on affordability limits. 

12.   Is funding for site acquisition eligible?

Site acquisition costs are generally not eligible unless they are a part of the 13% match to a DEED funded project and authorized by the Metropolitan Council.

13. Is funding for building demolition eligible?

Building demolition costs are eligible when the removal of a structure is necessary to gain access to remediate soil and ground water contamination and is identified in a MPCA approved Response Action Plan (RAP). Demolition costs requested must be proportionate to the footprint of the soil contamination removed. Limited pre-demolition costs related to the abatement of asbestos or lead-based paint are eligible. All other interior demolition costs are not eligible.

14. Can a project be funded if eminent domain was used for acquisition?

No applicant for a TBRA grant (or other LCA fund) is eligible for grant funds if the project for which funding is requested used eminent domain power to acquire the property unless eminent domain was used for a “public use or public purpose.” The term “public use or public purpose” as it pertains to this policy includes

  • mitigation of a blighted area
  • remediation of an environmentally contaminated area
  • reduction of abandoned property, or
  • removal of a public nuisance 
as the terms above (italicized) are defined in Minnesota statute. (For definitions see Minnesota Statutes Chapter 117.025.)


15. Can funds be requested for cleanup costs incurred between grant rounds?

The cost of cleanup activities that occurred prior to a grant award are not eligible for reimbursement unless the applicant has previously been awarded cleanup funding for the same redevelopment project in a prior funding cycle and the costs are expressly authorized by the Council. (For information on investigation activities, see question 7 above.)

In order for contamination cleanup activities incurred prior to the TBRA funding award date to be considered eligible for funding, applicants must meet the following four conditions:

  • The cleanup work for which funding is being requested must have been done no earlier than 180 days before the TBRA application deadline (1st business day on or after November 1st or May 1st).
  • For soil and ground water remediation work, the MPCA must approve a RAP for the project prior to commencing work; for asbestos abatement, a Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) licensed inspector/contractor must complete an asbestos evaluation and plan according to Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) standards; for lead-based paint abatement an MDH licensed inspector/contractor must complete a lead-based paint evaluation according to MDH standards and the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
  • The applicant must contact the Metropolitan Council TBRA staff prior to commencing any cleanup work. A site visit with the applicant and TBRA staff is recommend so there is clear understanding of the project and the proposed remediation.
  • Before starting the cleanup work, the applicant must provide a letter to Council TBRA staff explaining why the cleanup work needs to start prior to the TBRA application deadline and states:
    • The applicant is going to start project cleanup work before the next TBRA application deadline; and the applicant has the appropriate approvals (see second bullet above on soil and ground water remediation projects).
    • The applicant understands that while this notification process makes the work done after the Council receives the letter eligible for consideration in the next TBRA grant round, it DOES NOT commit the Council to funding the project.

16. Can previously funded projects get additional TBRA funding if they encounter additional cleanup costs?

Applicants that have already been awarded TBRA grant funds are eligible to apply for additional funds for a project if during the clean up

  • significantly larger quantities of contamination are encountered than estimated in the environmental investigation documents and/or RAP submitted with the prior grant application; or
  • significant amounts of contamination not identified in the prior environmental investigation(s) are encountered.

Applicants requesting supplemental funding for soil remediation must provide an amended RAP or provide documentation that the MPCA has approved the changes for which additional funding is being requested. Applicants requesting supplemental funding for asbestos and/or lead-based paint abatement must provide documentation that a licensed inspector/contractor has been involved in assessing the additional abatement needed and that the additional cleanup work (if any) was done according to Asbestos Hazard Emergency Responses Act (AHERA),  MDH standards for asbestos and the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) for lead-based paint.

Additional contamination cleanup activities incurred prior to the TBRA funding award date for the grant cycle in which funding was requested must meet the conditions described in question 15 to be eligible for reimbursement.

17. Is the funding targeted for Minneapolis and Saint Paul?

No, the funding is available to any city or township participating in the Livable Communities program. See a list of participating communities. In addition, the TBRA program reserves at least one-quarter of the funding available for projects outside the two core cities and restricts any one municipality from receiving more than half the funding in any funding round when more funding is requested than is made available.

18. How can I learn more about brownfield cleanup funding opportunities?

Workshops are held prior to every spring and fall grant cycle to provide information on brownfield cleanup funding programs and opportunities available in Minnesota. The workshops are co-hosted by the Council and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and include representatives from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Minnesota Department of Health, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the Minnesota Department of Commerce and other organizations working to redevelop brownfield properties. For details about future workshops, contact the TBRA grant coordinator or check the Council's Meetings & Events.

19. Is a local funding match required?

A 25% local funding match is required for TBRA contamination site investigation grants. No funding match is required for TBRA contamination cleanup grants. However, the contamination cleanup application evaluation encourages projects to involve multiple financial partners including the private sector, various units of government and the non-profit sector. TBRA funds may be used as part of the match required for a grant to the Contamination Cleanup Grant Program at Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

Note: for applicants requesting funding from TBRA and DEED, DEED does require a local match. TBRA funds may be requested to provide up to 13% of the project cleanup costs as part of the 25% local match for cleanup costs required by the Contamination Cleanup Grant Program at DEED. Applicants may request more than 13% of the cleanup costs from TBRA in unmatched funds. However, DEED’s program requires that 12% of the total cleanup costs requested from DEED be from local funds.

20. If a TBRA application is funded, what are the obligations that accompany the grant?

Recipients of a TBRA grant are expected to draw funds within the first year of funding and must complete the cleanup and begin construction of the redevelopment before the end of the grant term. Like other Livable Communities Act grant programs, grant funds are a reimbursement for work completed. In addition, status reports are required within the grant term and annual progress reports are required for up to four years after the end of the grant term this includes information on jobs, net tax capacity, property taxes and other development outcomes.

Applicants that are unable to start construction within the grant term will have an opportunity to request a grant extension. For more information on extensions, contact Deb Jensen, 651-602-1554 or Paul Burns, 651.602.1106