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EPA congratulates Bristol, RI, development for winning national Brownfields award

Release Date: 11/25/2003
Contact Information: Alice Kaufman, EPA Community Involvement Office, 617-918-1064

BOSTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week congratulated a mixed use project in Bristol, RI, for winning a national award for outstanding brownfields development.

The Thames Street Landing, an $8.3 million project on 2.2 acres of waterfront property, was one of 13 winners of the Phoenix Award, given by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

The Thames Street Landing is a central part at of Bristol's revitalization plan that reconnects the city with its historic harbor. The development includes retail establishments, a restaurant, offices, apartments and a 40-room hotel. Funded by private investors, this project took a contaminated, abandoned lot and turned it into a central part of the town's economic and social structure.

"This project exemplifies how small investors can make huge changes through superior vision and dedication," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office.

Financing for the development was a challenge, as most banks refused to back the project. Private funds and one commercial bank loan allowed the project to go forward under the direction of the Miles Avenue Property Co.

The Thames Street Landing was empty for three years before development project began in 1999 on property originally used as a lumberyard. One block from the town's main street, this site is at the State Street Pier, where its extensive history is evident in several of the existing buildings. The original Bank of Bristol building dates from 1797 and a 1798 building was the William Taylor Store. Byron Dinman's County House of 1800 and the stone DeWolf Warehouse from 1818 also remain on this landing, which was once a cornerstone of waterfront business in Bristol, sitting half way between Providence and Newport.

"It was a great honor to be selected as the Region One Phoenix Award winner," said Lloyd Adams, managing partner in Miles Avenue Property Company, which developed the site. "The brownfields program will be a very important factor in the future, preserving our region's open space by making it possible to redevelop desirable locations that have been contaminated, keeping towns and cities active and preventing urban sprawl."

Most contamination at the Thames Street Landing site - lead, arsenic, petroleum and PAHs - resulted from production of coal, coke and lumber in the last 40 years of the 1800s. A total of 20,000 yards of contaminated soil was removed during the cleanup. The engineering work cost $51,000 and cleanup was $316,000, all of it completed by the Miles Avenue Property Company

Developers were given the Phoenix Award at a reception last month in Portland, Oregon. One brownfields project in each region of the country was honored.