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Release Date: 08/23/94
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EPA today said it will fund pilot redevelopment projects at abandoned industrial sites, known as "brownfields," in Richmond, Va., and Bridgeport, Conn., contingent upon working out cooperative agreements. Each city would receive funding of $200,000 during the two-year projects. These locations, in contrast to largely ex-urban "greenfields" which do not have environmental investment risks, are called "brownfields" because they have been used for industrial purposes for some time. Many of the "brownfields" are inner-city sites shunned by prospective developers because of the possibility of inheriting expensive cleanup liabilities.

The Brownfield Economic Redevelopment Project is expected to provide EPA with demonstrations of ways to return unproductive abandoned urban sites to productive use. EPA is funding such a project in Cleveland and plans to fund projects in more than a dozen other cities.

"These pilots will give EPA the hands-on experience it needs to develop tools for revitalizing other communities around the country," said Elliott P. Laws, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.

Under the Brownfields Redevelopment Project, communities will strive to find developers who will restore abandoned sites and thereby create new jobs and economic growth, increase property values, stimulate tax revenues and rejuvenate neighborhoods.

All of the "brownfield" pilot projects will feature cooperative efforts between diverse community groups, investors, lenders, developers, regulators and other involved parties. Five additional projects will be awarded competitively by EPA in 1995.

The areas in Richmond which would be addressed by the EPA pilot have been designated a State Enterprize Zone, a status which required, among other things, evidence of distress factors, including population loss, a high percentage of low to moderate income persons, loss of business and industry and vacant and under-utilized commercial and industrial properties. Richmond has indicated that the EPA $200,000 grant would be used to cover project management and consulting services for technical assistance directly related to site specific environmental assessments and comparative industrial real estate market research. Development of a property recycling strategy is planned for each site addressed under the pilot.

In Bridgeport, the city would begin by using EPA funds to develop an inventory of the land which is available for redevelopment. The properties would be placed in categories and priorities based upon the degree of reclamation work necessary. Specific obstacles to redevelopment would be identified. Estimates would be made as to cleanup time required, potential processes to be used and availability of funds. Demonstrating how to make this land attractive for redevelopment would be the next step, for which two to six locations would be selected as models. Municipal and state agencies for economic development and environmental protection would work with EPA to

identify appropriate levels of cleanup tailored to planned future use and the risk posed to surrounding communities.

EPA expects to finalize the cooperative agreements with Bridgeport and Richmond and formally award the grants in the next few weeks.

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