Successful Brownfields Redevelopment Sites Can Re-energize Local Economies

By Lynn Dehlinger, Sr. Economic Development Manager/Broker Associate/ICSC P3 Florida Chair, Private Sector

The House of Representatives passed the Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment, and Reauthorization Act of 2017 (HR 3017) in December 2017. Successful Brownfields redevelopment sites can reenergize and stimulate entire communities and their local economies. The Florida Brownfields Program facilitates redevelopment and job creation by empowering communities, local governments and other stakeholders to work together to assess, clean up and reuse sites that may have been previously impacted by pollutants. Brownfields are properties where expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential of environmental pollution.

The Brownfields program, which is administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and enjoys strong bipartisan support, provides grants and technical assistance to states, local governments, tribes and redevelopment agencies to support the assessment, cleanup and reuse of Brownfield sites.

According to the EPA, there are more than 400,000 Brownfields nationwide. Brownfields are sites that contain environmental contamination, such as old manufacturing and industrial facilities, abandoned mills and mines, and areas with leaking underground storage tanks.

The House bill improves the brownfields program by:

  • Funding the program at an annual level of $200 million through fiscal 2022;
  • Expanding brownfield grant eligibility to nonprofit groups and partnerships, such as community development organizations;
  • Allowing the EPA to award multi-purpose grants of as much as $1 million to cover different activities or remediation at more than one site;
  • Increasing the maximum amount for other grants to $500,000 per site, from $200,000 with a new cap as large as $750,000 per site.

Over the summer of 2017, the Environment and Public Works Committee passed the Brownfields Utilization, Investment and Local Development Act (S. 822). The House is expected to negotiate with the Senate’s version of Brownfields reauthorization legislation by way of the final FY 2018 appropriations bill by the end of the year. This legislation has been heavily endorsed by ICSC. DEP Brownfields Statistics as of October 2017: Between 1997 and December 2015, more than $329 million dollars in confirmed capital investment can be attributed to the Program and 12,990 confirmed net new direct jobs have been created.