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Brownfield Redevelopment Presents a Unique Opportunity for Property Developers

Travel through any major metropolitan area and you will see blight of some sort. It may be abandoned homes, apartment complexes or commercial buildings. It may be buildings that once were home to thriving businesses, but because of some type of hardship or economic factor, now sit empty. Their windows have long been shattered. Landscaping that once was expertly maintained now grows out of control. Pavement has crumbled.

The economic downturn in 2008 was especially hard on the average homeowner and entrepreneur. The number of abandoned buildings throughout the country increased significantly as people lost their homes and livelihoods. Community blight became more prevalent than usual.

Homes can be fixed and resold. Commercial buildings can be rehabilitated for new businesses. But there is a different type of property that presents greater challenges to redevelopment. Some developers might find redeveloping brownfields – a site that may be contaminated in some way –  to be too daunting a task. However, with the right kind of guidance, brownfields present a tremendous opportunity to make certain spaces useful again. Redevelopment of brownfields can also be a catalyst to further community redevelopment.

“Brownfields present a tremendous opportunity to make certain spaces useful again.”

What Is a Brownfield?
Some may have heard the term “brownfield” before but they don’t really know what it means. The Environmental Protection Agency defines a brownfield as a piece of property whose redevelopment or reuse is hindered by the presence of a pollutant, contaminant or hazardous material.

That definition might lend itself to extreme images for some, such as an abandoned power plant. That would certainly qualify as a brownfield but there plenty of other examples. An abandoned gas station could be classified as a brownfield because of the underground fuel tanks. An auto junkyard can be a brownfield. An abandoned manufacturing site, such as an old steel mill, can also be classified as a brownfield because of the materials that were used during operation.

There is a process for redeveloping brownfields. As long as developers adhere to regulations, there is no reason why potential contaminants on a piece of property should deter them from completing their projects.

Steps Toward Reuse
Parties interested in redeveloping a brownfield must follow certain legal and regulatory steps. Those steps exist at the federal, state and local levels. Developers will have to develop a good working relationship with the various government bodies and agencies if a redevelopment project is to move along successfully.

The Center for Creative Land Recycling notes that, for redevelopment to take place, a brownfield must have a series of environmental site assessments and clean up, if necessary.

A phase I assessment involves a visit to the proposed redevelopment site by the developer and government or regulatory agency officials. It also involves interviews with interested parties, such as the previous owners, to get a more thorough understanding of what the property was used for. A phase I assessment likely includes researching public records and historical documents. All parts of this phase, the CCLR noted, are used to determine the nature of possible contamination on the site.

A phase II assessment delves further into the possible contamination on a particular site. The developer would have to hire a certified environmental consultant to take and analyze field samples. Once the environmental samples are tested, the consultant can determine the type and extent of contamination.

After a phase II site assessment has been done, a developer will often work with the consultant that performed the field tests to determine a cleanup strategy. Such a strategy will have to adhere to strict federal, state and local statutes, especially when it comes to disposal of contaminants.

The CCLR noted that regulatory agencies will often provide cleanup guidance and certification once it has been done correctly. This is reassurance to the surrounding community and local government that potential environmental threats have been dealt with properly and that further use of the property is safe.

Costs of assessment and cleanup may be expensive. However, the EPA also has several funding programs that defray the costs.

Brownfields are often more than just an eyesore to their surrounding communities. Redeveloping them can have a positive economic impact. If they are redeveloped commercially, a piece of property is put back on the tax rolls and generates property and perhaps sales tax revenue. If brownfields are developed as a community space, such an attraction provides a boost to property values.

Construction Storage
As developers turn brownfields into economically viable spaces again, Mobile Mini has the right kind of mobile storage containers for any development or redevelopment project. Mobile Mini’s storage solutions for construction provide vault-like security, so contractors can store materials, tools and equipment safely. Mobile Mini also has customizable solutions that are right for your needs, no matter what they may be.