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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Bright Future for Brownfield Development

On June 28, 2011 I had the opportunity to participate in the first of three planning workshops focused onredeveloping the Del Rio Area Brownfields located on the south bank of the Rio Salado. Nearly 30 participants made up of residents, business owners and community leaders attended this firstworkshop.

Those who attended the workshop learned all about brownfields and the goals of the Del Rio Area Planning Project. Phoenix officials hope that a $175,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency will lead to development on some of the vacant properties located in South Phoenix.

This effort is being facilitated by members of the City of Phoenix Offices of Environmental Programs, Planning, Parks and Recreation and Community and Economic Development. Brownfields Project manager Rosanne Albright is leading the workshops and is really hoping to engage the community and encourage public participation in the two remaining workshops.

These workshops are helping to create a plan for future clean-up and redevelopment of brownfields in South Phoenix with the communities input. They are also geared towards positioning brownfield sites for future EPA and other federal agency funding. Creating a cohesive vision for three large parcels of land totaling over 250 acres is only the beginning of what is possible for South Phoenix.

Recent federal initiatives have led Housing and Urban Development, Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency to create a partnership for sustainable communities. Some of their goals include protecting the environment, providing more and lower transportation options and improving access to quality affordable housing.

A brownfield 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 is what creates obstacles for redevelopment or any reuse of the property. Some examples of a brownfield are closed landfills, abandoned gas stations, old manufacturing facilities, and former dry cleaning facilities.

So why should you care about these workshops and be concerned with brownfield redevelopment? The cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields brings many economic development benefits to a community. Consequently, redevelopment creates jobs, increases property values, removes or reduce potential health risks, and revitalizes neighborhoods.

The River District/Pearl District in Portland is a great example of brownfield redevelopment and is very similar to the Rio Salado Del Rio Project. The only difference is that where there was once a contaminated rail yard, a new urban neighborhood has emerged. They now have new grocery stores, restaurants, galleries, shops and banks that now line the streets.

Eleven years ago, much of the Pearl District was blighted and polluted. The area was formerly used as an old railway yard and elevated roadway. Since 1998 this area has been transformed by a development agreement between the City of Portland and area developers that has led to the construction of useable parks, streetcar lines and thousands of condos and apartments in the neighborhood.

However, the Pearl District has caused some local controversy. In order to accomplish this type of urban renewal property taxes had to be raised. The rising property taxes are protected and cannot be used to support existing city, county and school budgets and are limited to only being spent within the district. Controversial as it has been, the benefits are undeniable and well worth the public investment.

According to the City of Phoenix website the Brownfields land Recycling program has facilitated more than $293 million in private investment to restore approximately 275 acres of previously contaminated land and created or maintained over 3,300 jobs. In addition, 21 sites have been redeveloped for public uses, such as parks.

The goal of the program is to reduce obstacles and provide assistance for redevelopment of brownfields in the City of Phoenix. The program has two components. One is to provide assistance to city departments for redevelopment of contaminated sites for public use, and two is to assist the private sector in redevelopment of sites that benefit the community by reducing environmental exposures, supporting job creation, and servicing and revitalizing neighborhoods.

To learn more about brownfield redevelopment please attend the next two workshops that will be held at the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center, 3131 S. Central Ave.,. Participants’ input will be used for a city report that Albright said will be completed in the fall:

July 19, 6 p.m.: Make a design for the potential redevelopment.

Aug. 16, 6 p.m.: Compile results.

To notify city officials that you want to participate, e-mail trudy.merrill@phoenix.gov or call 602-256-5669. You can also visit their website for more information on the project athttp://phoenix.gov/greenphoenix/land/brownfields/delrio . I hope to see you at the next meeting.

vvidales@remax.net

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/community/phoenix/articles/2011/06/14/20110614phoenix-hopes-use-epa-grant-redevelopment.html#ixzz1RFzx6pJl

Between the 7s is provided by Victor Vidales

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