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Atlantic Steel

Atlantic Steel: Draft Final Project Agreement



The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with the cooperation of State and local authorities, has initiated Project XL to work with interested companies to develop innovative approaches for addressing environmental issues. Project XL encourages companies and communities to come forward with new approaches that have the potential to advance environmental goals more effectively and efficiently than have been achieved using traditional regulatory tools.

Atlantis 16th, L.L.C. (hereafter referred to as Jacoby or Jacoby Development Corporation), a developer in Atlanta, GA has proposed redevelopment of a 138-acre site currently owned by Atlantic Steel near Atlanta's central business district. The proposed development is a mix of residential and business uses. The project plans include a multimodal (cars, pedestrians, bicycles, transit linkage) bridge that would cross I-75/85 at 17th Street and provide access ramps as well as connecting the site to a nearby MARTA (the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) mass transit station. Jacoby has worked intensively with representatives of EPA, the State of Georgia, local authorities, and public stakeholders to develop a site-specific Project XL Agreement that will allow implementation of this redevelopment.

The project site currently suffers from poor accessibility due to the lack of a linkage to and across I-75/85 to midtown and to the existing MARTA rapid rail transit system in Atlanta. Construction of an interchange and multi-modal bridge across I-75/85 at 17th Street would improve access to the site. The bridge would also serve as a vital linkage between the Atlantic Steel redevelopment and the MARTA Arts Center station. Completion of the redevelopment proposed by Jacoby is predicated upon improving multi-modal access to the area. In addition, construction of the 17th Street bridge was one of the City of Atlanta's zoning requirements for the project.

Why Is Project XL Necessary?

Jacoby is participating in Project XL for the Atlantic Steel redevelopment because neither the 17th Street bridge nor the associated I-75/85 access ramps would be able to proceed without the regulatory flexibility being allowed by EPA under this Project. Atlanta is currently out of compliance with federal air quality conformity requirements because it has failed to demonstrate that its transportation activities will not exacerbate existing air quality problems or create new air quality problems in the region. The Clean Air Act (CAA) generally prohibits construction of new transportation projects that use federal funds or require federal approval in areas where compliance with conformity requirements has lapsed. However, projects which are approved as transportation control measures (TCMs) in a state's air quality plan can proceed -- even during a conformity lapse. EPA approves state air quality plans, including TCMs contained in the plans.

What Flexibility is EPA Granting?

The flexibility Jacoby is seeking through Project XL is to regard the entire brownfield redevelopment project, including the 17th Street bridge, to be a TCM. The flexibility under Project XL is necessary because the redevelopment likely would not qualify as a TCM in the traditional sense. There are two components to the flexibility.

1) The first part of the flexibility is to consider the entire Atlantic Steel redevelopment to be a TCM. That is, EPA would view Atlantic Steel's location, transit linkage, site design, and other transportation elements (e.g., provisions for bicyclists; participation in a transportation management association) together as the TCM. Under the Clean Air Act, a project must demonstrate an air quality benefit to be considered a TCM. The Clean Air Act lists several types of projects that can be TCMs but its language does not limit TCMs to the measures listed. Those listed in the CAA include: projects that improve public transit; employer-based transportation management plans; projects that limit certain metropolitan areas to non-motorized and pedestrian use; programs to provide both travel and storage facilities for bicycles; and others.

The plan for the Atlantic Steel redevelopment incorporates many elements that could be TCMs by themselves, for example, the linkage to transit, the requirement that employers at the site will join or form a transportation management association, restricted access of certain areas of the site for pedestrian use, and paths for bicyclists and pedestrians. EPA believes that the combination of these elements will have a positive effect on reducing emissions. Under the Clean Air Act, a "transportation control measure" must actually be a measure -- an activity undertaken, a transportation project built, a program implemented.

2) The second aspect of the flexibility sought under Project XL concerns use of an innovative approach to measuring the air quality benefit of the Atlantic Steel redevelopment. EPA will measure Atlantic Steel's air quality benefit relative to an equivalent amount of development at other likely sites in the region. This type of comparison is available only to this particular redevelopment through the Project XL process. The entire Atlantic Steel redevelopment would attract new automobile trips and result in new emissions. Therefore, redevelopment of the site when considered in isolation would not qualify as a TCM in the traditional sense. EPA believes that the Atlanta region will continue to grow, and that redevelopment of the Atlantic Steel site will produce fewer air pollution emissions than an equivalent quantity of development at other sites in the region.

Why Is this Flexibility Appropriate?

EPA believes the flexibility described above is appropriate for this project because of the unique attributes of the site and the redevelopment. EPA's intention to grant flexibility to this project is a result of the combination of unique elements listed below. In the absence of these elements, EPA would be unlikely to approve new transportation projects during a conformity lapse.

1) The site is a brownfield. An accelerated clean-up of the site will occur if this XL Project is implemented. The clean-up and redevelopment of the former industrial site aligns with EPA's general efforts to encourage clean-up and reuse of urban brownfields. The likely alternative would be an underdeveloped, underused industrial parcel in the middle of midtown Atlanta.

2) The site has a regionally central, urban location. EPA believes it is environmentally beneficial for development to occur where infrastructure and transportation alternatives exist to support it. Redeveloping this property will result in a shift of growth to midtown Atlanta from the outer reaches of the metropolitan area. Because of the site's central location, people taking trips to and from the site will be driving shorter average distances than those taking trips to and from a development on the edge of the city. Shorter driving distances will result in fewer emissions.

3) The redevelopment plans include a linkage to MARTA. This linkage would make it possible for those who work at the site to commute without a car and would serve residents of Atlantic Steel as well as residents of surrounding neighborhoods. In addition, the transit link is valuable for those coming to the site for non-work purposes, such as dining, shopping, and entertainment.

4) The site design incorporates many "smart growth" site design principles. These principles include features which promote pedestrian and transit access rather than exclusive reliance on the car. Using these concepts, the redevelopment will avoid creating areas that are abandoned and unsafe in the evening, hotels and offices will be located within walking distance of shops and restaurants, shops that serve local needs will be located within walking distance of both the Atlantic Steel site and the adjacent neighborhoods, and wide sidewalks will encourage walking and retail use. Jacoby has also responded to the adjacent neighborhood's request for public parks, designating public space to central locations rather than relegating it to the edge.

5) The redevelopment incorporates many elements that could qualify as TCMs by themselves. In addition to the linkage to mass transit, the redevelopment will participate in a transportation management association (TMA). The TMA will monitor the number and type of vehicular trips and will create transportation management plans that would be implemented if specified performance criteria are not met.

With the exception of the site's accelerated clean-up, all of these elements will have an impact on transportation decisions of people who begin and/or end their trips in the Atlantic Steel site. The combination of the site's location in a central urban area, connection to the existing transit system, design that promotes pedestrian access, establishment of a TMA, and provision of bicycle and pedestrian conveniences are expected to work together to reduce growth in auto traffic in the Atlanta region. The redevelopment could demonstrate that the application of smart growth concepts can make a difference in travel patterns, even in Atlanta -- where people drive more per capita than any other city in the country. Therefore, EPA intends to use regulatory flexibility under Project XL to seek approval for the redevelopment and its associated transportation projects to proceed as a TCM.

What is the Phase 1 Project XL Agreement?

This Phase 1 Project XL Agreement is the first phase of a two-part agreement between EPA and Jacoby. It spells out the intentions of Jacoby and EPA related to development and implementation of this project. On February 24, 1999 a notice was published in the Federal Register announcing the availability of the draft Phase 1 Project Agreement for a 14 day public comment period. Comments received during that period and EPA responses are included in Appendix I. Like all Project XL Agreements, the Phase 1 Project Agreement itself is not legally binding -- legally enforceable commitments described in the Phase 1 Agreement will be contained in separate legal documents such as the State Implementation Plan and approved Remediation Plan.

Due to the complexity of the project and the numerous processes and analyses necessary to implement it, EPA and Jacoby have adopted a two-phased approach to the Project XL Agreement. This Phase 1 Agreement contains as much detail as possible at this time regarding the project and the intentions of each party. An additional Final Project Agreement between EPA and Jacoby will be signed in the future. Today's Phase 1 Agreement describes areas where further details are needed or additional discussions between EPA, Jacoby and stakeholders will occur. EPA and Jacoby hope to sign the Final Project Agreement in June, 1999.

Table of Contents I. Parties

II. Purpose of the Phase I Agreement

III. Description of the Project

IV. Stakeholder Involvement Process

V. Implementing Jacoby's Vision for the Atlantic Steel Site
  1. Pedestrian Friendly Environment
  2. Mass Transit
  3. Brownfield Remediation
  4. Water Use Reductions
  5. Erosion/Stormwater Control
  6. Pollution Prevention
  7. Energy Conservation
  8. Solid Waste Management

VI. Project XL Acceptance Criteria
  1. Environmental Results
  2. Cost Savings/Paperwork Reduction
  3. Stakeholder Support
  4. Innovation/Multi-Media Pollution Prevention
  5. Transferability
  6. Feasibility
  7. Monitoring, Reporting and Evaluation
  8. Shifting the Risk Burden
VII. Implementing Project XL for Atlantic Steel
  1. EPA Intentions
  2. Jacoby Intentions
  3. Project XL Performance Targets for Atlantic Steel
  4. Proposed Milestones

VIII. Project Implementation
  1. Legal Basis
  2. Non-Party Participants
  3. Process for SIP TCM Adoption
  4. Enforcement of SIP TCM Provisions
  5. Applicability of Other Laws or Regulations
  6. Authority to Enter Agreement
  7. Rights to Other Legal Remedies Retained
  8. Reporting/Annual Reports
  9. Unavoidable Delay
  10. Dispute Resolution
  11. Duration

IX. Withdrawal or Termination

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