Abandoned or underutilized industrial sites, known as Brownfields, offer a substantial potential for re-use and redevelopment as productive, job producing properties. They also present a significant challenge and opportunity for collaborative efforts in site remediation and reuse. Private-public partnerships for Brownfields restoration have evolved as all parties interested in economic development and smart growth have recognized Brownfields as valuable real estate resources. There are thousands of Brownfield sites nationwide for which the presence or absence of environmental contamination is unknown. At many of these sites, environmental hazards are most likely to be in the form of soil, ground water, or building surface contamination with materials of concern including lead, chromium, petroleum, PCBs, chlorinated solvents, and asbestos.
Brownfields restoration usually entails a highly collaborative effort by:
Cleanup of Brownfields sites is usually voluntary rather than mandatory, and in many states, is subject to the state’s regulatory requirements for voluntary cleanups. Federal and state legislation combined with municipal initiatives provide the real estate development industry with new opportunities to participate and take a leadership role in enhancing and restoring valuable urban land resources. The key to facilitating the restoration and reuse of a Brownfields site is the reduction or elimination of uncertainty and liability for cleanup. This is usually accomplished through a systematic process beginning with discovery and ultimately leading to site remediation. The six primary steps in the Brownfields site remediation process are illustrated to the right.