Beaverton Brownfields Remediation and Development
What are Brownfields?
Many people aren’t familiar with brownfields or what they mean. Typically, a brownfield is land abandoned or underused because of real or perceived environmental contamination concerns. However, contamination is not always obvious. Many brownfield sites are in active use while the impacts remain underground and out of sight. The presence or perception of contamination could impact nearby properties, and hinder their sale or redevelopment. Brownfield properties can include old gas stations, auto body shops, former dry cleaners, abandoned industrial facilities, and other sites. Review our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).
Why do we care about Brownfields in Beaverton?
Addressing brownfields is an important part of the future of economic development in Oregon and our city. Brownfields limit the capacity of current property and business owners to expand and make improvements. Brownfield remediation and development offers many benefits including protecting human health, increased investment potential, and a cleaner environment. In Beaverton, Brownfields remediation and development can directly support citywide economic development challenges related to land, labor, infrastructure, and capital.
The city faces a shortage of developable industrial land. Out of 46 tax lots where the city can build, only six are more than five acres. Increasing the availability of land through brownfield remediation and development is one way the city can work to increase its land supply, especially for needed employment land.
Socioeconomic disparities in the city make it difficult to maintain an adequate supply of high-quality labor. Many people lack access to jobs and information as well as lack of crucial training opportunities for under-represented or under-resourced populations. To support better access and job training opportunities, the Beaverton Brownfields Program will adopt similar local hiring requirements developed for the Enterprise Zone. Additionally, through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assessment Grant funds, remediation of certain brownfield sites will offer on-the-job training programs for Beaverton youth, the under-employed and the unemployed.
To offset infrastructure costs for new and redevelopment, the city is considering creative strategies including state infrastructure financing as well as private funding for projects to leverage needed capital improvements.
Capital investments in brownfields remediation and development can be offset by state and local tax and other financial incentives. However, demand for these resources typically outpaces supply. To support economic development of local businesses, the city partners with community development financial institutions (CDFIs) who provide mission-based lending to underserved, marginal businesses to help fill the gap.
EPA Assessment Grant
With a grant from the EPA, the city is working to expand its existing Brownfields program to help property and business owners with brownfield site assessments and planning for reuse of commercial and industrial sites, job training opportunities, and public engagement. The city will begin project activities in Spring 2015.
The city provides many tools for property owners or potential property owners of known or suspected brownfield sites including:
- Phase I and II environmental site assessments
- Access to support and consultation on known or potential contamination issues
- Cleanup and redevelopment planning assistance
- Financial incentives
- Information about federal, state, and local assistance programs
While there are many resources available to make brownfields remediation achievable, there are also important liability factors to consider.