Fresh Coast Capital is the recipient of a grant to install a pioneering green stormwater infrastructure project in Peoria, Illinois.

Fresh Coast designed the grant proposal in partnership with the City of Peoria and partners AKRF and the Gifts in the Moment (gitm) Foundation, with additional support from the City of St Louis, Missouri. The program will install absorptive plant and tree-based landscapes to improve water quality in the Illinois River. In particular, these “working landscapes” will include stormwater tree farms, as well as agriculture and native floriculture rain gardens on vacant and right-of-way land to form a complete streetscape of “green fingers” in a Peoria neighborhood. Several similar urban forestry projects will be maintained in St Louis and the impacts of the different design types will be studied.

The City of Peoria has a combined sewer system that causes sewer outflows during large storm events into the Illinois river. The City is negotiating a consent decree for its combined sewer system that, if approved, would allow for the nation’s first 100% green stormwater infrastructure compliance plan. St Louis also faces stormwater management mandates.

The successful demonstration of these plantings will allow Fresh Coast to expand with privately funded impact investment capital throughout Peoria and into other cities facing the dual issues of land vacancy and stormwater issues. “Fresh Coast Capital partners with pioneering municipalities to turn vacant land –which is usually seen as a liability – into a unique and attractive asset to manage stormwater,” said CEO and Co-Founder Nicole Chavas. “These types of projects are exciting because they have the added benefit of helping cities cost-effectively reduce flooding, update aging infrastructure, and meet Clean Water Act requirements,” said Director of Ecosystem Services and Co-founder Laura Brenner Kimes.

This announcement expands Fresh Coast’s areas of operation to Peoria, Illinois from current operations in: Battle Creek and Flint, Michigan; Youngstown, Ohio; Gary and Elkhart, Indiana; and Kansas City and St Louis, Missouri.  Many urban centers across the Midwest have experienced decline in industry and population since the 1960s that has led to areas of high vacancy and economic decline. “Active, green reuse of vacant properties is a powerful antidote that has been shown to immediately stabilize and even improve property values, lower crime and improve health and environmental outcomes,” said Co-Founder and Director of Community Relations, April Mendez.

In Peoria, local reception has been very positive. “I am excited by the potential that the collaborative effort of installing green infrastructure for revenue generation and stormwater management offers the City for its future community development, economic development, and stormwater compliance,” said City Manager Patrick Ulrich. “This project will create strong relationships among the Peoria community through microenterprise operations of agricultural food products and floriculture sited on green stormwater infrastructure,” said Denise Urycki, Director of the gitm Foundation.

Supporting the project, nearby St Louis has also reacted positively. Nahuel Fefer, Special Assistant to the Mayor stated “we are optimistic about the potential for revenue generating green stormwater infrastructure in our city.”