Senate passes bill to help communities redevelop brownfield sites, urges House of Representatives to do the same

quik-trip-greenvilleEPA Brownfields funds helped transform the site of a former auto body repair shop into a neighborhood market in an underserved community in Greenville, SC. Photo via.

With sweeping bipartisan support, last week the U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation to help communities across the country clean up and redevelop contaminated land. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), one of the champions of the bill, urged his Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives to do the same.

Dangerous by Design 2014: Oklahoma

The National Complete Streets Coalition reports on the national epidemic of pedestrian fatalities, offering county-, metro-, and state-level data on traffic fatalities and an interactive map of each loss in the decade 2003 through 2012. This resource specific profiles the state of Oklahoma.

Video: Senator Inhofe on why he supports the BUILD Act of 2013

Smart Growth America’s National Brownfields Coalition hosted a breakfast at the 2013 Brownfields Conference that brought together more than 120 members and guests working on federal brownfields issues.

To open the event, Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) welcomed guests with a video message about the importance of  brownfields redevelopment and its success across the country. Senator Inhofe is a lead sponsor of the BUILD Act, a bill in Congress that would help communities turn abandoned land back into vibrant spaces by reauthorizing the federal Brownfields program.

What the BUILD Act could build: The Mayo Hotel in Tulsa, OK


The Mayo Hotel. Via.

Once the jewel of the City of Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Mayo Hotel fell into neglect and disrepair in the late 20th century. With the help of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfield program, the Mayo Hotel has now reclaimed its title as the “Grand Lady of Tulsa.”

In 1925, John and Cass Mayo completed construction of what would become a destination for many notable guests throughout the hotel’s first life, including President John F. Kennedy, Babe Ruth and Elvis Presley. The 18-story, 600 room hotel exemplified modern luxury during Oklahoma’s oil renaissance; ceiling fans were outfitted in every room and the hotel boasted Tulsa’s first running ice water. 

Partnership in the News: Tulsa, OK poised to clean up brownfields

With the help of a $175,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Tulsa, Oklahoma is in the final stages of a brownfield redevelopment plan that includes six properties throughout the city. The grant will help Tulsa clean up the sites and thus serve as a catalyst for broader revitalization and redevelopment efforts. On cleaning up one of the former industrial sites, Mayor Dewey Bartlett said:

“This could be a great asset to the city, contributing to the tax rolls and the business community. We just have to get it there.”

Evaluating land use codes and transportation performance in Oklahoma City

A view of downtown Oklahoma City. By Flickr user Travel Aficionado.

Oklahoma City was designed around driving, but community members and city officials want to create a street network that allows for a variety of transportation options.

City officials have been actively pursing new policies that will allow the city to grow in a more efficient and sustainable manner, but they needed help with the technical details that would allow them to tie their new plans to their local setting. Officials asked Smart Growth America to help.

Smart growth stories: Investing in Oklahoma City with Mayor Mick Cornett

A decade ago, many Americans knew Oklahoma City only as the site of one of the worst domestic tragedies in the country’s history. Today, thanks to the policies and initiatives of Mayor Mick Cornett and his administration, Oklahoma City is experiencing unprecedented economic growth – and several smart growth strategies have helped make it happen.

Oklahoma City’s gains in recent years are due in large part to the Cornett administration’s concerted – and politically risky, at times – effort to enhance, understand and plan for growth. To add value to Oklahoma City’s downtown, Cornett and his team are pursuing capital improvement programs, supporting development throughout the region, and leveraging projects to attract new businesses and raise the quality of life for residents. Bucking the trend of do-nothing politics, Cornett is a man of progress, getting things done with support from voters and relying on common sense policy objectives.

Smart growth equips cities for business growth, job creation

What makes a city good for business? To get a sense, we looked two prominent business magazines that recently ranked cities all across America for their business climates. Four cities made it to both lists’ top ten: Washington, D.C.; New York City, New York; Austin, Texas; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

What do these “best for business cities have in common? They’re all using smart growth strategies.

“Great neighborhoods and great cities are where employees want to be and where businesses want to move,” said Geoffrey Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America, “That’s why smart growth strategies are good for economic development – it helps businesses connect with workers and customers.”

Partnership in the News: Redevelopment of Brownfield Site Begins in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tulsa city leaders met with Environmental Protection Agency staff to discuss beginning the cleanup of a brownfield site for redevelopment. Tulsa’s News Channel 2 reports:

Project organizers have met with citizens for several months, scouting possible sites for cleanup and redevelopment. Three sites have already been designated for cleanup.

“Environmental protection really equals economic growth and development,” said David Lloyd with the EPA. “This is a way for cities to reuse sites, use infrastructure, clean the environment and promote economic development.”

Smart growth news – January 3, 2012

The bold urban future starts now
Salon, December 31, 2011
In cities in every region of the country, pie-in-the-sky ideas are moving from brainstorm to blueprint to groundbreaking — and 2012 will prove it.

Oklahoma City reaps positive effects of economic development
The Oklahoman, January 1, 2011
“Downtown Oklahoma City experienced significant changes this year (2011), but probably the most impactful was the renovation and grand reopening of the Myriad Gardens,” Jenkins said. “Construction of the Level Apartments and Aloft Hotel in Deep Deuce have really given that area a dense, urban feel, and the launch of the ‘Downtown It!’ advertising campaign increase awareness of all that downtown Oklahoma City has to offer.”

Study: Cities subsidize townships
Oxford Press (Ohio), January 2, 2012
There is an inequity in government subsidies for roads, police protection and other services that township residents receive compared with city residents, though both groups pay the same taxes, a University of Toledo study shows.