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Release Date: 3/24/1998
Contact Information: Lois Grunwald, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1588, Pete Chalupsky, City of Tucson, Office of Economic Development, (520) 791-5093

                       Grant presented at March 24th Seminar

   (San Francisco) -- To help give Tucson's downtown revitalization a boost, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) today presented a U.S. EPA $200,000 brownfields grant to the city of Tucson to help in the redevelopment of the Warehouse District/Barraza Aviation Parkway (BAP) Corridor in Tucson.

    Brownfields are abandoned or under-used industrial or commercial areas where redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination.  Property owners, lenders, investors and developers fear that involvement with these sites will make them liable for contamination they did not create.

    "The energy and commitment of community groups, the city and state create a vital, thriving area for the arts in the heart of this historic city is an inspiration.  EPA is proud to play a part in the area's transformation, "said Keith Takata, U.S. EPA's Superfund director.

    Tucson -- which will receive the grant over a two-year period -- will use the funds to begin working with property owners, tenants, neighborhood residents, environmental groups, and financial institutions on plans to revitalize the Warehouse District.

    As part of the pilot project, a public process that actively involves stakeholders in the assessment, cleanup and redevelopment will be undertaken.  Also, an arts-related pollution prevention plan will be created and funding sources and mechanisms to pay for cleanup will be identified.  The stakeholders will also identify economic incentives, regulatory tools, and technical/managerial methods to help stimulate sustainable development, and put a plan in place to help link jobs created within the pilot area to disadvantaged residents.

    "The city is delighted to partnering with the U.S. EPA and other community groups to implement the Warehouse District/Barraza Aviation Corridor Brownfields Pilot Project," said Tucson Mayor George Miller.  "By redeveloping brownfields sites, we are taking concrete steps to revitalize the urban core and promote infill development."

    "We are pleased at ADEQ to be part of brownfields development here in Tucson," said Russell Rhoades, director of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.  Innovative programs such as brownfields will help provide incentives for the development of urban areas important for the success of communities such as Tucson's Warehouse District."

     "The Tucson arts movement -- already in full swing -- is providing the leadership for the Warehouse District make over, one of the most significant redevelopment opportunities for the arts that Tucson has seen, "said Sarah Cements, executive director of the Arts District Partnership.

    The city of Tucson is focusing its pilot project in an area known as the Warehouse District.  The pilot project area includes about 80 acres of warehouses, roadways, railroad tracks and vacant sites that are located between Tucson's Central Business District and the University of Arizona campus.

    The Warehouse District became a thriving commercial and industrial area shortly after the Southern Pacific train Depot was constructed in 1880.  By 1890, a hotel, lumber yard, a few residences, and some commercial businesses had been built and numerous large warehouses were constructed to hold produce, dry goods, and other merchandise.  By 1920, there were over 100 residences, a large number of retail businesses and warehouses on both sides of the railroad tracks.

    During the 1950s' Tucson experienced dramatic population growth with most new housing units being built to the east of downtown on pristine desert lands.  As a result, businesses began leaving the Warehouse District opening new outlets in the suburbs.  During the 1960s and 1970s, the Warehouse District continued in a period of decline and deterioration with buildings destroyed by fire, neglect and vandalism.

    President Clinton's Brownfields Action Agenda encourages redevelopment of brownfield properties.  The brownfields initiative also addresses the concerns prospective developers have about inheriting cleanup liability for property.

    Brownfields redevelopment creates new jobs and economic growth, increases property values and stimulates tax revenues.  All of U.S. EPA's brownfields grant projects feature cooperative efforts between diverse community groups, investors, lenders, developers, regulators and other interested parties.

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