The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields Program was created in 1995 and provides funding to assist with redevelopment of areas of blight. An eligible site is one that could have a potential contaminant that would complicate redevelopment (ex: abandoned factories or gas stations). Funding provided is for analyzing properties for potential contaminants, planning redevelopment and cleaning up properties for future use. This is a multi-step process that involves public outreach, Phase I and II site assessments, and eventually clean-up and redevelopment. Read more about the EPA Brownfields Program.
Benefits of Identifying Brownfields
There are many reasons a municipality would want to assess and identify Brownfields:
- The city and potential developers will be aware of any hazardous contaminants that will complicate development.
- The city can receive further funding to clean up the sites.
- Investment in the community benefits citizens.
- New development facilitates jobs and economic growth.
- Redeveloping can utilize existing infrastructure, which is an economic and environmental benefit.
- Removal of blighted areas revitalizes the city.
Brownfields Success Stories
Hollar & Moretz Mills - Hickory, North Carolina (2016)
Built in the 1930's, the Hollar and Moretz hosiery mills closed in the 1990's, when the industry declined. Plans began to re-purpose the facility in the late 2000s. In both 2007 and 2012, the City of Hickory received $400,000 in assessment grants, which went towards the redevelopment planning for these properties. Contaminants were removed and the renovation was completed in 2013. The facilities now house restaurants, office space, a fitness center and an event venue.
Pettigrew Street Corridor - Durham, North Carolina
This area of Durham was largely residential with some industry, until residents moved to the suburbs and businesses closed down. The city of Durham began creating a revitalization strategy for the 96-block area in 2006, with the help of an assessment grant. The city's Brownfields committee later received a Brownfields Job Training Grant, to train area workers on proper brownfields mitigation. A 200-hour "Brownfields Environmental Response Training" course allowed the city too keep work local, while bettering the careers of those involved. The success of this training program helped the city gain a second training grant in 2010.
The Town of Fletcher
The town of Fletcher, with the help of Henderson County, had planned to build a new school on the former site of a log home manufacturing site. A limited Phase II Site Assessment revealed that the location was contaminated with dioxin and pentacholophenol, so was unsuitable for a school site. Through a combination of Brownfields grants, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality partnership and a North Carolina Department of Transportation grant, the city began to "rebuild" their downtown area. The site was cleaned up, and a redevelopment plan was created. The city planned to build a down town area, starting with a town hall building.