Brownfields is a term used to describe real estate that is contaminated or perceived to be contaminated by hazardous substances or petroleum in soil or groundwater. The complexity and cost of cleanup creates an obstacle to redevelopment or reuse of the property. Brownfields examples include closed landfills, abandoned gas stations, old manufacturing facilities, and former dry cleaning facilities. The cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields brings many economic development benefits to a community.
The Phoenix Brownfields Land Recycling Program began in 1998 with funding from a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Assessment grant. The grant funding was a catalyst for the creation of a permanent brownfields program in 2000. Phoenix has committed to brownfields redevelopment over the past 20 years with technical and financial assistance. Through EPA grants and $5 million in municipal capital improvement bond funding, the City has acquired and cleaned up brownfields for public use and provided grant funding to private sector and nonprofit organizations for public infrastructure improvements and development fees.
Since 1998, more than $352 million in private investment has restored approximately 322 acres of previously contaminated land and created or maintained over 3,000 jobs. In addition, more than 30 sites have been redevelopment for public use.
The goal of the program is to reduce obstacles and provide assistance for the redevelopment of brownfields in the city. The program is managed by the Office of Environmental Programs and has two components: 1) assistance to city departments for the redevelopment of contaminated sites for public use, and 2) assistance to the private sector for the redevelopment of sites that benefit the community by reducing environmental exposures, job creation, services, and revitalizing neighborhoods.
EPA announced that the City of Phoenix will receive a $800,000 grant to establish a low interest rate revolving loan fund (RLF) for cleanup activities at brownfield sites contaminated with hazardous substances and/or petroleum. The RLF would be available to projects city-wide with a focus on targeted areas, including, the Rio Reimagined Project, designated Redevelopment Areas, Neighborhood Initiative Areas, and special projects, such as the Edison-Eastlake Choice Neighborhoods. The fund is termed revolving because it will use the loan and interest repayments to provide new loans to additional borrowers. Private sector businesses, developers, and nonprofits can use these loan funds to clean up environmentally contaminated sites. Phoenix was awarded this grant in May 2020 with the funding available in October 2020. Read the PHX Newsroom article and watch the video below for more information.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Program provides grants, technical assistance, and guidance on cleanup and redevelopment.
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Brownfields Program provides technical assistance and offers grants to qualified government agencies and nonprofits for environmental assessment and/or cleanup.
The Center for Creative Land Recycling provides education, technical assistance, and grant preparation for entities desiring to cleanup and redevelop brownfields.