Brownfields Assessment Grant
The City of Montrose received a $300,000 Brownfield Area-Wide Assessment Grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to complete environmental site assessments on underutilized properties, cleanup planning, and community outreach. The city received the grant on the heels of completing a 2014 EPA Brownfield Area-Wide Assessment Grant for $400,000 that enabled the city to complete Phase I and II environmental assessments on properties in the Uncompahgre River corridor and downtown. The 2017 grant was targeted for properties along the Uncompahgre River, portions of downtown, and along North Townsend Avenue.
The city has enlisted a partner in this effort, the United States Environmental Protection Agency or EPA. The EPA has a national program that provides grant support to communities like Montrose to address redevelopment goals and plans that may be hindered in areas where historic activities have left behind remnants of contamination.
Ayres Associates, Inc. was selected through the city’s procurement process to be the consultant for the 2017 Brownfields grant.
Incentivizing Economic Development
Brownfield Area-Wide Assessment Grants are provided to communities to evaluate the unknown environmental conditions of underutilized properties and to formulate a plan for their cleanup, if necessary, and redevelopment. Reducing environmental threats to the public’s health and welfare is a priority of the program.
Site assessments foster redevelopment and economic growth by lifting the cloud of uncertainty surrounding properties that are perceived to be contaminated. Developers and businesses are unlikely to redevelop a brownfield site when they have concerns about environmental contamination.
The city has benefitted from the 2014 brownfields grant. Sharing Ministries Food Bank and Storm King Distilling Co. are located on properties that were assessed and determined to have easily managed environmental issues under the grant. Properties that are cleared for redevelopment become more marketable. When brownfield redevelopment occurs, blight is eliminated, new jobs are created, the tax base is increased, and other development in the area is likely to occur.
This grant will be utilized to support the Montrose Urban Renewal Authority (MURA) development and to strengthen the downtown by incentivizing revitalization. The MURA development will bring a mixture of commercial and retail businesses, restaurants, residential construction, and open space. The downtown is the core of Montrose. A healthy downtown is essential for the vitality of the community.
Brownfields Assessment Process
First, the City identifies sites that have redevelopment potential and also meet the definition of a Brownfield and then offers to meet with the owners who express interest in participating.
Next, and with the property owner's consent, consultants investigate the site background by looking at historic information – which includes photographs or written records and a site reconnaissance – this is termed the Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment (ESA).
A report is prepared and recommendations within the report dictate if the site is ready for redevelopment or further investigation may be necessary.
Planners then prepare a master plan for future potential development, working with the landowners and facilitating a public participation process to shape and prioritize that plan.
A variety of strategies is used to implement the plan, including the pursuit of grants and financial assistance to build infrastructure and mitigate contamination to clear sites for redevelopment.
The information collection process can often be completed within three to four weeks, and field investigations, if required, from four to six weeks. If a contractor is interested in starting a new development or renovating a building, the site assessment activities can - be completed quickly enough to allow them to proceed on schedule.
Assessment Project Benefits for Montrose Residents
This is truly a community project and participation, questions, and open discussion are vital to its success. All types of interest and participation are anticipated and some of the rewards are highlighted below.
- Quality Place – Improve the vitality of downtown and create connections to the river trail.
- Improved tax base – Putting new businesses on vacant land.
- Economic gain – Surrounding neighborhoods often increase in value when these areas are improved.
- Increased tourism – In areas that may not currently be attractive.
- Healthy local environment – Cleaning up areas of contamination.
- Safer Neighborhoods – Areas that are rundown attract crime, rehabilitation brings safer neighborhoods.
- Community Pride – It’s a place people want to be.
There are hundreds of examples across the country of success stories. Old gas stations and industrial yards becoming new coffee shops and local schools; riverfront landfills becoming vibrant breeding grounds for aquatic life, and growth of downtown marketplaces on top of historic industrial sites. If you’re excited about this project and want to learn more, the following links can take you to a myriad of completed EPA brownfield renewal projects across the country. What they all have in common is the creation of vibrant, active, and cohesive communities.
Positive Economic and Community Impacts
Studies indicate that brownfield redevelopment in communities across the nation leads to:
- Positive Employment and Investment Impacts – Over 50,000 jobs and $14 billion in new investment stemmed from the use of EPA Brownfield Grants and resulting redevelopment.
- EPA Brownfield Grants leverage investment ranging from $1/public investment to nearly $20/total investment
- EPA Brownfield Grants leverage one job for every $5,700 in public costs, as compared with $35,000/job for U.S. HUD and U.S. SBA grants.
- Cleanup and redevelopment lead to property value increases between 5-15% for properties within ¾ mile from a redeveloped brownfield site.
- Direct generation of local tax revenue and lower investment in infrastructure on “Greenfields” is an added benefit.