Brownfields Safe Reuse and Investment Packages: A Roadmap for Communities

Redevelopment of a blighted or contaminated site is not an easy task, however, there are steps you can take to reduce the risks involved in the process and attract the right investment.  Communities and private investors often think about redevelopment from two different perspectives.  Understanding this, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization will soon release two guides, “Planning and Preparing for Safe Reuse: How Your Community Can Examine Brownfields Revitalization Possibilities” and “Creating a Brownfields Investment Package: Attracting Resources for Brownfields Revitalization.”

     

The “Planning and Preparing for Safe Reuse” guide will help communities analyze and prepare brownfields sites for reuse and to design and calculate site reuse opportunities.

When positioning a site for redevelopment, all brownfield properties and redevelopment areas will have associated risks. To attract resources to a brownfield redevelopment, you need to understand and identify the specific project attributes that will attract or diminish interest from developers and investors. Performing a reuse assessment for your site will help you determine these attributes and their associated risks. The EPA guide walks through the associated steps of a reuse assessment in order to identify any information gaps and ensure that you acquire a realistic view of the redevelopment and the range of its potential.

In addition to the reuse assessment, the guide also details the importance of identifying financial risks of a redevelopment. To evaluate whether a project is financially feasible, the guide works through the creation of a best-use scenario and conceptual plan that will serve as the basis for determining potential costs and revenues. Furthermore, using the best-use scenario(s) developed, the guide suggests performing a basic financial analysis for redevelopment. The financial analysis helps with understanding the potential return on investment, exploring the overall viability of the redevelopment project, and weighing the financial risks or benefits of municipal involvement. It will also help with an  assessment of whether the project goals are realistic and likely to attract private investment, or flag concerns that a developer or investor might have regarding potential project return.

After collecting all the information and identifying the gaps from the reuse assessment and financial analysis, the “Creating a Brownfields Investment Package” guide will help you transform this information into a compelling story for your community. A brownfields investment package explains the overall market traction and potential for the redevelopment in a way that attracts local, regional, and national capital and other resources. Through the guide you will learn the key elements that are important to include in the investment package, as well as specific areas on which to focus. The guide also offers rich best practice examples of community investment packages from across the country. For example:

What sets the Brownfield Investment Package apart is the specific project information and financial analysis that is included within the package. By highlighting the redevelopment’s location, opportunities, and site-specific assets, you are providing information to further alleviate uncertainties and suspected risks. In addition, by providing an overall summary of financial viability and conceptual plans, you are illustrating the best use scenario(s) for the redevelopment area.

While this may not always be the end use for your site, you are identifying the feasibility through the lens of the investment community – or speaking the “language of a developer.”

These guides offer your community an opportunity to better understand the obstacles and constraints of a redevelopment project, while also identifying options to overcome obstacles and constraints and establish priorities for local investment and redevelopment decisions. More importantly, they provide a roadmap for how to tell your story in a way that is appealing to the investment community, in terms that they can understand and appreciate. While “beauty may lie in the eyes of the beholder,” the guides will allow you to give a clear vision of possibilities to the “beholder.” This article will be updated with a link to the guides once available on the EPA’s website. Check it out…you won’t be disappointed!