The U.S. Conference of Mayors defines Brownfields as abandoned or underutilized properties that have become virtual dead zones within cities due to the fear of real or perceived environmental contamination. To local elected officials, these properties represent pockets of disinvestment, neglect, and missed opportunities. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the General Accounting Office (GAO), there are more than 500,000 Brownfields throughout the nation.
The existence of many Brownfields sites can be traced to the strict liability provisions of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), a federal law more commonly known as the “Superfund Law.” The strict Superfund liability regime, over time, has affected virtually all properties – including Brownfields – making them potentially subject to CERCLA’s authority even though their level of contamination is less than Superfund sites. This liability threat drives many potential developers and businesses away from Brownfields in inner cities as potential centers for investment. Instead, private and public parties look to “Greenfields” in suburban areas as preferred locations for new businesses and other development, thereby consuming farmland and open spaces in this country at an alarming rate.
Municipal organizations such as the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National Association of Counties have begun teaming up with Greenfield proponents over the increasing rate at which our nation is consuming these Greenfields. The general feeling among local officials is that we cannot go on destroying our farmland and Greenfields while neglecting abandoned and underutilized properties in the heart of America’s cities. Brownfields redevelopment therefore becomes a concentrated effort among cities, counties, states, and federal government agencies to promote “Smart Growth” and to work cooperatively to use our nation’s resources more wisely.
Through its extensive knowledge of cities and understanding of Brownfields, CC has been identifying contaminated properties throughout the United States and around the world for several cities and environmental remediation firms. CC sees the establishment of public-private partnerships as the key to making Brownfields redevelopment a reality.
CC provides technical advice, municipal client and regulatory interface capabilities, as well as redevelopment knowledge for several of the nation’s leading Brownfield remediation and reinvestment firms. CC selectively identifies financially attractive opportunities in cities and then coordinates municipal leadership with the appropriate real estate development and environmental remediation firms nationwide. Dames & Moore/Brookhill Redevelopment LLC and Cherokee Investment Partners are among CC’s clients.