Why do some owners leave a brownfield property in its current condition?

Many brownfield owners are satisfied with leaving their properties in their current condition. In some cases the neighborhood property values may seem too low to justify any sort of investment in the site. In other cases, the level of contamination is so slight that it seems unlikely to harm anyone. A property owner who decides to do nothing should be sure that the decision is based on a full understanding of the situation. Unfortunately, many owners may not have full information or analyze all the implications of leaving a brownfield as is. Community members may be able to convince an owner to reconsider the decision to let the property sit, but the owner may resent such an intrusion. In particular, the owner should look at possible liabilities for environmental contamination. Even potential liability can affect a business, making it harder to get credit or raise equity for projects not directly related to the brownfield.

Also, a property owner who is letting a brownfield sit idle probably should make sure that things are not about to get worse. If the site is posing a health or environmental threat to neighbors, delay could lead to bigger injuries and bigger liabilities. On a site bad enough to justify government attention, an owner who waits may be inviting cleanup on expensive terms dictated by the government, possibly with years spent with attorneys arguing over the process. In such a situation both the owner and the community may lose as the cleanup is likely to take longer, be more expensive, and not be coordinated with redevelopment options. Even when cleanup appears to be a losing proposition, prompt cleanup may make sense as a way for an owner to cut losses.

Show All Answers

1. What is a "brownfield"?
2. Why the interest in redeveloping brownfields?
3. What are the benefits of brownfield redevelopment?
4. Why do some owners leave a brownfield property in its current condition?
5. Does the government provide incentives for brownfield redevelopment?