Brownfields financing legislation introduced in the House

Earlier this month, Congresswoman Janice Hahn (D-CA) and Congressman Chris Gibson (R-NY) introduced the Brownfield Redevelopment and Economic Development Innovative Financing Act of 2014, or H.R. 4173. The legislation would re-establish a guaranteed financing program for brownfields at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and allow localities to utilize innovative financing mechanisms to begin the redevelopment process.

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Developers see new opportunities at the intersection of brownfields redevelopment and public health

Harbor Oaks Shopping Center, Clearwater, FL.On the left: A former car dealership in Clearwater, FL became a designated brownfield after the dealership closed. On the right: Today the site is home to the Harbor Oaks shopping center, complete with a new grocery store for the community.

You might be familiar with the concept of brownfields—vacant sites that are known or suspected to be contaminated and which must be remediated before they can be reused. A related, but less well-known concept is healthfields, which turn former brownfields into community health facilities. Healthfields are gaining wide support within regulatory and policy circles, and their popularity opens up new opportunities for real estate developers in these fields.

In many markets today brownfields are unfortunately common enough that land-use-related companies have evolved to specialize in brownfields redevelopment. These companies—including real estate developers, law firms and engineering firms, among others—have learned to navigate the complex regime of rules, procedures and standards that govern the redevelopment of brownfield sites. These companies have also become experts in the web of federal, state and local programs available for brownfields redevelopment, which are often what make brownfield site redevelopment financially feasible.

LOCUS

Gainesville, FL City Commissioner Thomas Hawkins on land use and economic development

Gainesville, FL's Depot Park
A former train station and brownfield site will become home to a restaurant, café and a flexible space for events as part of the Depot Park project in Gainesville, FL. Photo via the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency.

Thomas Hawkins, a Commissioner for the City of Gainesville, FL and member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is helping using smart growth strategies to attract economic development while protecting Gainesville’s quality of life.

Local Leaders Council

Top 10 of 2013: Helping vacant land become neighborhood hubs through the BUILD Act of 2013

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This month, we’re looking back at some of Smart Growth America’s brightest moments and greatest accomplishments from 2013. Today’s highlight? Our work to get thousands of square miles of brownfields sites cleaned up and redeveloped through a bill introduced in Congress this year.

The Brownfields Utilization, Investment, and Local Development (BUILD) Act of 2013 would help communities across the country clean up brownfields sites and get them back into productive use. Senators Lautenberg (D-NJ), Inhofe (R-OK), Crapo (R-ID) and Udall (D-NM) introduced the bill in March, and since then Senators Hirono, Merkley, Brown, Schatz, Whitehouse, Gillibrand and Levin have all signed on as additional cosponsors.

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New legislation makes it easier to clean up brownfield sites in Washington state

Esplanade Park in Tacoma, WA
Esplanade Park in Tacoma, WA, is a former brownfield site that was cleaned up and redeveloped. Newly passed legislation will help more sites achieve this success. Photo by the Washington State Department of Ecology via Flickr.

In June 2013, the Washington State Legislature passed a bill that will make it easier for communities to clean up brownfield sites across the state.

SB 5296 modifies Washington’s Model Toxics Control Act and creates new tools for brownfields cleanup. “There are a large number of toxic waste sites that have been identified in the department of ecology’s priority list,” the bill explained. “Addressing the cleanup of these toxic waste sites will provide needed jobs to citizens of Washington state.”

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Mayor Madeline Rogero on brownfields redevelopment in Knoxville, TN

Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council recently interviewed Madeline Rogero, mayor of Knoxville, Tennessee, to ask her how local governments can catalyze brownfields redevelopment and jumpstart revitalization. In the video above, Rogero discusses how strategic investments by local government have made brownfield sites in Knoxville more attractive to potential developers.

Local Leaders Council

Take Action: Help Valley, Alabama redevelop their textile mills

When the Langdale and Riverdale textile mills closed in the 1990’s, the residents of Valley, Alabama, not only lost a major employer. They lost part of their heritage.

For years the mills have stood as a reminder of what the town lost. Residents, however, saw potential for transforming the historic buildings into a vibrant, walkable neighborhood. The City agreed—but industrial contamination stood in their way.

Now, a federal brownfields grant is helping Valley clean up the land and achieve their vision, and a bill in Congress could help towns like Valley achieve similar goals.

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Upcoming Webinars: October 2013

Want to learn about new, innovative strategies for creating great places? Several upcoming webinars provide ideas and inspiration for local leaders.

Brownfields Policy Update from Capitol Hill

Thu, Oct 3, 2013 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT

Join NALGEP and its Brownfield Communities Network for a webinar where the nation’s leading brownfields policy experts will bring you up to speed on the latest Congressional activities related to brownfields. Speakers will include Evans Paull of the National Brownfields Coalition, Judy Sheahan from the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and NALGEP Executive Director Ken Brown. The webinar will cover the key matters before Congress affecting brownfields revitalization, including brownfields reauthorization legislation, the outlook for FY 2014 appropriations for brownfields at EPA and other agencies, and efforts to reinstate the brownfields tax incentive. There will be ample time for questions and discussion.

Click here to register.

Montana Rural Health Initiative: Building Active Communities Upcoming Webinars

Transportation Engineering and Public Involvement
Monday, October 7th, 12-1:30 PM
*Registration information coming soon!

Making the Case for Active Communities
Wednesday, October 23rd, 12-1:30 PM
*Registration information coming soon!

For more information on the Building Active Communities Webinars visit http://healthinfo.montana.edu/RHI%20Webinars.html 

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Southeastern San Diego to replace brownfields area with community's smart growth vision

Community members help plan the Village at Market Creek development. Image courtesy of the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation.
Community members plan the Village at Market Creek development. Image courtesy of the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation.

After extensive planning and dozens of community meetings, the Village at Market Creek in San Diego, CA, is ready to break ground on the next phase of a visionary smart growth project.

For two decades, San Diego has been working to remediate and redevelop the former home of aerospace manufacturer Langley Corp. The company left San Diego in the 1990s, but leaking underground storage tanks and other potentially hazardous materials on the numerous factory sites remained. That meant the 60 acres were not only blighted, but potentially dangerous to redevelop.

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