Brownfields Redevelopment Program (BFP)
A brownfield is a property in which is in use or redevelopment under the presence or potential presence of contaminants. It is estimated there are more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S. Cleaning up and selling or redeveloping those properties could be very profitable.
Since its inception in 1995, the BFP has grown into a proven, results-oriented program. The program is designed to empower states, tribes, communities, and other stakeholders to work together to prevent, assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse brownfields. The 2002 Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act codified many of EPA’s practices, policies and guidance. This expanded EPA’s assistance by providing new tools for the public and private sectors to promote sustainable brownfields cleanup and reuse. The 2018 Brownfields Utilization, Investment and Local Development (BUILD) Act reauthorized EPA’s Brownfields Program, and authorized changes that affect brownfield grants, ownership and liability provisions, and State & Tribal Response Programs.
Uncertainties Surrounding Brownfields Present Challenges to Communities
Many commercial, industrial and even some residential properties may be environmentally contaminated due to past or current uses at the properties. These brownfields often pose health and safety hazards and can be difficult to reuse – even for properties in attractive locations such as a downtown district, commercial corridor, job center, or along a waterfront.
When property owners and potential investors suspect a property is contaminated, they may fear they will be held liable for past contamination. This concern may discourage prospective owners and investors from investing in brownfields, until additional information on property characteristics and potential contamination is known. Until a brownfield is properly characterized, it may be passed over for redevelopment.
Anatomy of Brownfields Redevelopment
Depending on the location and characteristics of the property and market factors, a brownfield site often can be redeveloped for uses ranging from housing, retail, industrial, or mixed-use to public and non-profit uses such as parks, recreational areas and municipal facilities. Brownfields redevelopment offers benefits over greenfield development, such as:
- reducing blight and improving the local environment by cleaning up contamination,
- moving abandoned or underused sites into beneficial reuses, and
- reducing sprawl and preserving greenspace.
Brownfields can be redeveloped by private developers, local governments or through public-private partnerships.
Opportunities and Risks Specific to Brownfields Redevelopment
Opportunity and risk are inherent in every real estate transaction. Developers must invest their resources to evaluate whether the development opportunity outweighs the risk. In a brownfields redevelopment, a developer must consider the additional risk that the property is or may be contaminated. This means that a brownfields developer must invest their resources to evaluate whether the real estate opportunity outweighs both brownfield-specific and real estate risks.
Opportunities often present when redeveloping brownfields include:
- Prime Locations – An opportunity to acquire and develop a property in a highly desirable location where there may be few or no other properties available.
- Reduced Purchase Price – Due to potential contamination, brownfield properties often can be acquired at a reduced cost—which could potentially increase profit.
- Existing Infrastructure – An opportunity to save money, because brownfield properties often have existing infrastructure and are in locations accessible to roads, rail lines, ports and public transportation.
Risks or challenges unique to brownfields real estate transactions include:
- Liability – Concerns over who is responsible for the environmental contamination often plague brownfield properties. Potential developers must evaluate: Who will pay for the environmental cleanup– a responsible party or the developer?
- Cleanup and Timing – Environmental assessments and cleanup can complicate brownfield redevelopment projects because exact timelines and costs are often difficult to determine. Developers must ask themselves if the environmental cleanup and the subsequent type of development make sense from an economic perspective.
- Financing – Typical financing may not be available to brownfields real estate transactions because lenders may not be comfortable with the unknowns associated with contaminated properties.
- Weak Demand – Brownfields are not always located in thriving areas where real estate markets are strong. As a result, alternative analyses may be necessary to kick-start the redevelopment process.
Brownfields Redevelopment Services that CTI Offers
CTI offers assistance in the following stages of the brownfield redevelopment process:
- Assistance in selecting properties through permitting with BFP
- Preparation of the Corrective Action Plan
- Clean-up activities
- Obtain approval by BFP of the Corrective Action Report, etc.
Click below to explore the environmental consulting services that CTI offers for any aspect of air, land, and water protection and compliance.
Environmental Compliance Audits
Environmental Management Systems
ISO 14001 Consulting
Phase I & II Environmental Site Assessments
SARA Title III – Tier II / Form R
Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC)
Industrial Stormwater Permitting
Wastewater Permitting and Compliance