The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced last week that the city of Atlanta received $400,000 to clean up contaminated brownfield sites. Nationally, communities received approximately $9.3 million in supplemental funding for 24 current successful Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) grantees.
The supplemental funds announced are going to communities that have demonstrated success in using their RLF funds to clean up and redevelop brownfield sites. The funds will be used to continue their progress in reusing vacant and abandoned properties and turning them into community assets such as housing, recreation and open space, health facilities, social services, and commerce opportunities.
“This Brownfields supplemental funding will provide additional resources to 24 communities with a proven track record of success, so they can continue their progress revitalizing their local economy and improving the health and wellbeing of their community,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “We are proud to report that a majority of communities receiving these supplemental funds have Opportunity Zones within their jurisdiction, which means we are reaching communities most in need.”
“Brownfields funding will provide the city of Atlanta with resources to clean up contaminated lands and return them to productive use,” said Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker. “These funds will leverage additional resources and help support an enhanced quality of life for these communities.
The loans made by the city have created a sensational revitalization of an unused area of Atlanta which spurred more than $2 billion in investment in the Historic 4th Ward Park, including new housing, jobs, and the location of a corporate headquarters. The additional supplemental funding will allow the city of Atlanta to continue their work in helping cleanup brownfield properties through low interest loans.
Recipients of EPA’s Brownfields RLF funding provide low-interest loans and sub-grants to carry out cleanup activities at brownfields sites. When loans are repaid, the loan amount is returned into the fund and re-lent to other borrowers, providing an ongoing source of capital within a community. To date, EPA’s RLF grantees across the country have completed 694 cleanups and attracted approximately 42,000 jobs and $8 billion in public and private funding.
A brownfield is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. There are estimated to be more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S.
Grants awarded by EPA’s Brownfield Program provide communities across the country with an opportunity to transform contaminated sites into community assets that attract jobs and achieve broader economic development outcomes while taking advantage of existing infrastructure. For example, Brownfields grants have been shown to:
- Increase Local Tax Revenue: A study of 48 brownfields sites found that an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional local tax revenue was generated in a single year after cleanup. This is two to seven times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of these sites.
- Increase Residential Property Values: Another study found that property values of homes near revitalized brownfields sites increased between 5% and 15% following cleanup.
As of May 2019, under the EPA Brownfields Program, 30,153 properties have been assessed and 86,131 acres of idle land have been made ready for productive use. In addition, communities have been able to use Brownfields grants to attract 150,120 jobs and more than $28 billion of public and private funding.