About the Brownfields Program
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.