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Release Date: 11/19/1997
Contact Information: Lois Grunwald, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1588

Jointly released by the city of Phoenix and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency  

      (San Francisco) -- The city of Phoenix and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) today awarded $100,000 to the city of Phoenix to help in the redevelopment of abandoned or under-used industrial or commercial land -- known as brownfields -- in the Rio Salado area and other city-designated redevelopment areas.  

     Brownfields are areas where redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination.
     "This new partnership with the city of Phoenix reflects the spirit of optimism that is so much a part of the cleanup and reuse of these brownfield properties," said Fred Hansen, U.S. EPA's deputy administrator. "You can feel the vision and promise that the city has for Rio Salado and other brownfield areas, that one day they will be a thriving part of Phoenix. We are proud to be a part of this vision."  

     Phoenix -- which will receive the grant over a two-year period -- will use the funds to start up the "Phoenix Land Recycling Program," a program recently approved by the Phoenix City Council. The city will coordinate and streamline internal planning and development review procedures and economic development efforts to assist owners and developers of brownfields. The city will also establish partnerships with community groups, realtors, lenders, environmental professionals, regulatory agencies, business owners and others to support and promote brownfields projects.

     "An effective approach to brownfields is an integral part of the city's urban infill strategy," said Mayor Skip Rimsza. "Our residential infill program has been very successful -- now we will also pursue  commercial infill' of blighted, abandoned properties to help restore our inner-city neighborhoods and provide greater economic opportunity for our citizens."

     As brownfields are identified by property owners, realtors and community groups, the city will incorporate information about those properties into planning and economic development databases. The city will work closely with the community to identify their brownfields concerns and acceptable uses for sites in their neighborhoods. City staff will also assist property owners in locating potential users for their properties and offer owners assistance in overcoming obstacles for clean up and redevelopment of their property. The grant funds cannot be used for actual cleanup activities at brownfield sites.

     Rio Salado, which is bisected by the Salt River, consists of several neighborhoods that the city has targeted for revitalization, including Rio Vista and South Phoenix Village. It is an area of older homes, small industrial properties, abandoned structures, and large expanses of vacant land.  The total project area is about 28 square miles.      

     President Clinton's Brownfields Action Agenda -- initiated nearly three years ago -- 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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