Brownfields Redevelopment Program

Spurring economic development and revitalization throughout Greater Williamsburg

General Questions

WHERE ARE BROWNFIELDS LOCATED, AND WHAT DO THEY LOOK LIKE?

Brownfields are usually concentrated in urban areas, but they really can be anywhere. They are typically abandoned or underutilized commercial or industrial sites, such as manufacturing facilities, warehouses, gas stations, machine shops, and dry-cleaning facilities, but they can even include residential properties where, at some point, hazardous substances might have been used.

DO I OWN A BROWNFIELD?

Maybe. Ask yourself this: Is my land or property idle, vacant, or less productive than it ought to be? Are there concerns about environmental contamination contributing to that problem? If you answered yes to both questions, then you might own a Brownfield.

HOW DOES A COMMUNITY BENEFIT FROM BROWNFIELDS REDEVELOPMENT?

Many Brownfield sites are located in unattractive, economically depressed parts of a neighborhood. Cleanup and redevelopment of these sites encourages higher property values and creates jobs, in addition to creating a safer, cleaner environment.

WHO IS INVOLVED IN BROWNFIELDS REDEVELOPMENT?

Private and public organizations play a role in assessing, cleaning up and redeveloping Brownfield sites. Key players include state and federal environmental agencies, economic development and planning agencies, citizen and community groups, commercial lenders, technical consultants, legal counsel, local government agencies, developers, investors, and real estate professionals.

ARE THERE INCENTIVES FOR BROWNFIELDS REDEVELOPMENT?

Yes, in addition to direct financial assistance, federal, state and local tax incentives are available to property owners and developers to help reduce the costs of Brownfield projects. Federal tax incentives include the Taxpayers Relief Act, which allows eligible taxpayers to deduct qualified cleanup expenses at Brownfields in the year expenses are incurred, and rehabilitation income tax credits for 10% of the expenses of rehabilitating structures built before 1936.

    HOW MUCH WILL THE CLEANUP COST?

    Many factors affect the cost of cleanup. For example, if groundwater under the site is contaminated in addition to soil, the cost of cleanup is likely to be much higher. If the contaminated materials need to be transported off site for treatment, that will also raise the cost. The cost will also depend on standards that apply to the future use of the property. If a Brownfield property is remediated to commercial use standards rather than residential use standards, the cleanup will typically be less expensive. The cost to the property owner of the site will also be affected by whether there are other parties, such as previous owners, who may be potentially responsible for remediation.

    HOW LONG WILL THE CLEANUP TAKE?

    The cleanup schedule will vary according to the level, type, amount, and extent of contamination, as well as cleanup standards that apply to the site. A site with extensive soil or groundwater contamination cleaned up to residential standards will take longer than a site with minimal contamination that will be used for industrial purposes. Factors like time of year or unusually bad weather may also affect duration of cleanup.

    WHY DID WE APPLY FOR A GRANT?

    Funding was needed to provide resources to continue the region’s ongoing commitment to transforming the Greater Williamsburg communities and broaden the industrial, commercial, retail and service economies. Cleanup and revitalization of vacant and underutilized properties are seen as a tremendous opportunity to increase nearby residential and commercial property values.

    HOW ARE PROPERTIES CHOSEN TO BE INCLUDED IN THE PROGRAM?

    The Williamsburg Coalition provides assistance to the City of Williamsburg, James City County, York County and the Greater Williamsburg Partnership in selecting properties based on the following criteria:

    • Impact on public health, the environment and wildlife habitats;
    • Proximity to municipal or private water sources, residential areas, and schools;
    • Potential reuse of the site for economic development, including industrial, commercial, residential, open/green space and/or recreational uses.

    Where are Brownfields located, and what do they look like?

    Brownfields are usually concentrated in urban areas, but they really can be anywhere. They are typically abandoned or underutilized commercial or industrial sites, such as manufacturing facilities, warehouses, gas stations, machine shops, and dry-cleaning facilities, but they can even include residential properties where, at some point, hazardous substances might have been used.

    Do I own a Brownfield?

    Maybe. Ask yourself this: Is my land or property idle, vacant, or less productive than it ought to be? Are there concerns about environmental contamination contributing to that problem? If you answered yes to both questions, then you might own a Brownfield.

    How does a community benefit from Brownfields redevelopment?

    Many Brownfield sites are located in unattractive, economically depressed parts of a neighborhood. Cleanup and redevelopment of these sites encourages higher property values and creates jobs, in addition to creating a safer, cleaner environment.

    Who is involved in Brownfields redevelopment?

    Private and public organizations play a role in assessing, cleaning up and redeveloping Brownfield sites. Key players include state and federal environmental agencies, economic development and planning agencies, citizen and community groups, commercial lenders, technical consultants, legal counsel, local government agencies, developers, investors, and real estate professionals.

    Are there incentives for Brownfields redevelopment?

    Yes, in addition to direct financial assistance, federal, state and local tax incentives are available to property owners and developers to help reduce the costs of Brownfield projects. Federal tax incentives include the Taxpayers Relief Act, which allows eligible taxpayers to deduct qualified cleanup expenses at Brownfields in the year expenses are incurred, and rehabilitation income tax credits for 10% of the expenses of rehabilitating structures built before 1936.

      How much will the cleanup cost?

      Many factors affect the cost of cleanup. For example, if groundwater under the site is contaminated in addition to soil, the cost of cleanup is likely to be much higher. If the contaminated materials need to be transported off site for treatment, that will also raise the cost. The cost will also depend on standards that apply to the future use of the property. If a Brownfield property is remediated to commercial use standards rather than residential use standards, the cleanup will typically be less expensive. The cost to the property owner of the site will also be affected by whether there are other parties, such as previous owners, who may be potentially responsible for remediation.

      How long will the cleanup take?

      The cleanup schedule will vary according to the level, type, amount, and extent of contamination, as well as cleanup standards that apply to the site. A site with extensive soil or groundwater contamination cleaned up to residential standards will take longer than a site with minimal contamination that will be used for industrial purposes. Factors like time of year or unusually bad weather may also affect duration of cleanup.

      Why did we apply for a grant?

      Funding was needed to provide resources to continue the region’s ongoing commitment to transforming the Greater Williamsburg communities and broaden the industrial, commercial, retail and service economies. Cleanup and revitalization of vacant and underutilized properties are seen as a tremendous opportunity to increase nearby residential and commercial property values.

      How are properties chosen to be included in the program?

      The Williamsburg Coalition provides assistance to the City of Williamsburg, James City County, York County and the Greater Williamsburg Partnership in selecting properties based on the following criteria:

      • Impact on public health, the environment and wildlife habitats;
      • Proximity to municipal or private water sources, residential areas, and schools;
      • Potential reuse of the site for economic development, including industrial, commercial, residential, open/green space and/or recreational uses.

      US EPA Brownfields Coalition

      US EPA BROWNFIELDS COALITION

      The Greater Williamsburg Partnership
      Attention: Von Gilbreath
      421 North Boundary Street, Williamsburg, VA 23185
      (757) 645-0687
      vongilbreath@gwpva.com

      The Coalition: US EPA, City of Williamsburg, James City County, York County, William & Mary, The Greater Williamsburg Partnership, Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance

      Brownfields Grant Success Stories

      By evaluating abandoned, underutilized and deteriorating industrial and commercial sites, the Williamsburg Brownfields Coalition hopes to spur economic development and revitalization throughout Greater Williamsburg.

      How much money is available?

      FY 2019-2021 EPA Brownfields Grant of $600,000 was awarded in September, 2019 and includes:

      • $360,000 for Hazardous Sites
      • $240,000 for Petroleum Impacted Sites

      How is the money being used?

      Basic tasks include administration and reporting; brownfields site inventory and prioritization; environmental site Assessments; quality control documents; site remediation planning, if needed; and area-wide or site-specific redevelopment planning.

      What properties have been addressed so far?

      All three jurisdictions have identified priority brownfield sites
      within their target areas.

      Contact the Coalition for more information

      DEFINITIONS AND ACRONYMS

      Brownfields—Real property, either currently in use or vacant, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or perceived presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties protects the environment, reduces blight, and takes development pressures off greenspaces and working lands.

      Environmental Site Assessment (ESA)—A site evaluation or assessment conducted for purposes of determining the extent, if any, of contamination on a property. An assessment can be informal or formal and can consist of several stages. For example, a Phase I ESA, or basic study of possible contamination at a site is limited to collecting information about past and current site use and observing current conditions. A Phase II ESA sometimes follows up on a Phase I ESA, with sampling and analysis of suspected contaminated areas of a site. A Phase III assessment either follows up a Phase II assessment 1) by gathering information on the extent of contamination, or 2) by preparing plans and alternatives for site cleanup.

      Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund)—A federal statute that governs the investigation and cleanup of sites contaminated with hazardous substances. The law establishes a trust fund that can be used by the government to clean up sites on the National Priorities List.

      Though this project has been funded wholly, or in part, by EPA, the contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of EPA.