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EPA Loan Approved to Clean Up Abandoned Philadelphia Brownfield - $300,000 to pave way for new business and new jobs

Release Date: 7/25/2002
Contact Information: David Sternberg, (215) 814-5548

David Sternberg, (215) 814-5548

PHILADELPHIA - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Donald S. Welsh and city officials announced today that a $300,000 loan has been approved to redevelop an abandoned property at 41st and Market Streets. The loan, the first of its kind in EPA’s mid-Atlantic region, will pave the way for the site’s redevelopment into a nationally established business and will create up to 40 new jobs.

Brownfields are abandoned, industrial and commercial properties where contamination has been a barrier to expansion or redevelopment.

“The continued success of our brownfields initiative demonstrates how environmental protection and economic development go hand-in-hand. This loan will help clean up an abandoned eyesore; provide employment and new products and services to local residents, and encourage future redevelopers to take advantage of this innovative program,” said Donald S. Welsh, administrator for EPA’s mid-Atlantic region.

“Today’s loan directly impacts the city’s Neighborhood Transformation Initiative, geared towards making neighborhoods across Philadelphia cleaner and safer,” said James J. Cuorato, director of the city’s Commerce Department. “Thanks to EPA and state support, redevelopment of this property and others like it will positively impact University City and beyond by erasing blight. We want to see even more instances of how investing public funds can attract private capital.”

Welsh made today’s announcement with city and state officials at the site, where a former dry cleaning business operated from 1954 to the early 1990s, leaving behind solvent contamination in the soils. The loan will be used by a private developer to clean the contamination to federal and state standards and ultimately redevelop the property into an Eckerd Drugstore.

“This has been a cooperative effort among several agencies,” said Barbara Sexton, Executive Secretary for Policy and Communications for Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection. “This property has been a symbol of urban blight in the highly-visible east-west Market Street corridor. Several developers have been interested in the site but have been scared off by the environmental stigma. With EPA's loan fund, that it no longer an obstacle.”

EPA designated the City of Philadelphia one of the agency’s first brownfields revolving loan pilots in 1997, awarding $350,000 to the Department of Commerce to make low-interest loans to borrowers to clean up and redevelop brownfields projects that have already gotten off the ground. The city worked closely with EPA, the state, and potential developers to come to an agreement on the terms of the loan, the cleanup, and ultimate use of the site. The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority provided funding to assess the property, and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation will administer the loan.

“We are proud that the first loan of this kind in EPA’s mid-Atlantic region was made in West Philadelphia and anticipate that it will contribute to the steady improvement in our neighborhood’s quality of life,” said district Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell.

To date, EPA has awarded the city a total of $900,000 to address brownfields. In addition, EPA provides free brownfields environmental site assessments to the city and has funded two non-profit firms to conduct environmental training for residents impacted by brownfields in Philadelphia, Montgomery and Delaware counties.
Combining EPA and state funds, the city has started assessments at over one hundred properties and leveraged approximately $1.5 million for cleanup and $17 million for redevelopment projects. Today’s loan also opens up new funding opportunities for Philadelphia. Having made this loan, the City now qualifies for supplemental EPA funding to clean up and redevelop sites via the revolving loan program.

Earlier this year, President Bush signed bipartisan legislation that will further encourage the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields by protecting small businesses from liability. In addition, the President’s fiscal year 2003 budget will double the funds available - from $98 million to $200 million - through EPA to help states and communities cleanup and revitalize brownfields.

For every dollar of federal money spend on brownfields cleanup activities, cities and states produce or leverage $2.48 in private investment. To date, EPA’s brownfields program has leveraged over $4 billion in public and private investments that have turned abandoned industrial properties into thriving economic and recreational areas and green spaces. In addition, EPA brownfields pilots have leveraged more than 19,000 cleanup, construction and redevelopment jobs.