Examining Urban Environmental Policy by maqboolshahin


									Examining Urban Environmental Policy: The Social, Environmental, and Economics of Brownfield Policy

Hunter Bacot University of North Carolina at Charlotte Cindy O’Dell University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Prepared for presentation at the annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association in New Orleans

January 2005

Examining Urban Environmental Policy: The Social, Environmental, and Economics of Brownfield Policy Introduction While the redevelopment of brownfields continues to receive attention in the policy, land use, and environmental literature, direct assessments of the effects of brownfield redevelopment for local communities are few. Assessments of brownfield programs are complicated and complex, especially as there are no standards for assessing the vitality of brownfield redevelopment, nor are there available databases for tracking comprehensive information on policy activity and outcomes. Assessments are complex due to the intergovernmental nature of the program – records are locally based, contracts are executed at the state level, and program parameters are established at the national level – and its potentially widespread effects across social, environmental, and planning policies. For a government-sponsored program that depends heavily on private sector involvement and enjoys such widespread use, brownfield policy analysis must move beyond current allocation-based analyses to more comprehensive analyses to determine whether the policy works (or does not work). To truly weigh the effects of brownfield policy for cities, research must embrace a comprehensive examination that includes elements of community, environmental, and economic policies. In this research, we propose to assess brownfields program performance across three objectives commonly identified as program goals – environmental, social, and economic performance. Using a case study of the City of Charlotte’s (NC) brownfield program, we identify criteria for each program goal and assess a brownfield project to determine its performance in each of these areas. Understanding how brownfield policy performs in revitalizing communities (social), addressing pollution (environmental), and enhancing development (economic) informs as to the utility of this program for local governments.

The Regulatory Arena of Brownfields An agreed upon definition is critical for establishing a baseline of the type of property that can be revitalized in brownfield programs and, consequently provide analytical parameters


for study. As Alker, et al. (2000: 51) observe, a definition is “a means of achieving consistency between localities and regions in the identification and utilization of brownfield, and in order to ensure clarity regarding the development potential of individual sites.” Clarity for determining what constitutes a brownfield in the United States is provided by legislative decree, though a definitive definition of brownfield has evolved since inception.

Brownfields originally were governed by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA- PL 96-510; 42 USC 9607) and subsequent amendments (Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act, SARA- PL 99499). Currently, brownfields are guided by the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act (42 USC 9601; referred to herein as the Brownfields Revitalization Act); this Act amends sections of CERCLA relative to brownfield redevelopment and provides additional clarity for these purposes. Title II of the Brownfields Revitalization Act defines a brownfield as “ real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant” (PL 107-118). As defined by the EPA and other federal agencies, brownfields are “abandoned, idled or underused industrial and commercial facilities where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination” (US GAO 2000: 6). Distinguishing brownfield sites by Act is important as these sites are generally characterized as “limited” in contamination and capable of being redeveloped vis-à-vis more contaminated, Superfund (National Priority List (NPL)) sites that pose significant health threats due to heightened intensity and levels of hazardous contamination. Yet, as Alker, et al. (2000) contend, the legislative definition of brownfields limits application to only those that are contaminated and neglects derelict or underutilized sites that are not contaminated, but underutilized. Such sentiment, however, is not reflected in the definition of brownfields preferred by the US Conference of Mayors (2003), those persons closest to program implementation, who adhere to the accepted and agreed upon EPA definition, which qualifies underutilized sites as under the scope of brownfields. As there is no universal definition of a brownfield, only guidance from the Brownfields Act, state and local governments determine the definition of brownfields in their jurisdictions; though these definitions vary by jurisdiction, albeit slightly, most mirror the EPA definition (US Conference of Mayors 2003). 3

Assessing Brownfield Policy Performance Brownfield redevelopment provides opportunity for the intergovernmental management and mitigation of these sites as well as for community enhancement and improvement. Site redevelopment poses economic, environmental, and social windfalls for communities as well; by taking property contaminated with toxic hazards considered an economic liability (e.g., minimal property tax revenue) and turning it into an environmental and economic asset yields dividends for the community and city through cleanup and public and private investments. The objectives for brownfield programs reflect federal efforts of the EPA as the agency provides financial assistance and policy guidance and oversight for remediation of contamination. In addition, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) provide financial assistance and policy guidance and oversight of redevelopments that focus on revitalizing local economic activities in low to moderate income communities. State governments serve as purveyors of regulatory relief that address common economic concerns of developers, local government officials, and interest groups. As most states have primacy over national environmental policies, most accept responsibility for legislation promoting brownfield redevelopment (Bartsch and Deane 2002); in fact, recent state legislative efforts generally “relieve developers of uncertain liability risks and otherwise support regeneration efforts” (ICF 1999: 1). As Bartsch and Deane (2002: i) observe, states continue “to make certain that their programs reflect local brownfield project needs, run smoothly, and take advantage of opportunities to tie brownfield cleanup and redevelopment assistance with regulatory incentives.” Finally, local governments generally direct and manage the mitigation and redevelopment of specific brownfield properties, with states overseeing these responsibilities through legislation and general program direction. Local government departments of planning and economic development typically direct local brownfield policies and programs. With the myriad of actors associated with brownfield programs and policies, it is at the local level where these programs and policies are implemented. Given amenable regulatory environments within which to operate, local governments have assumed much responsibility for program implementation. Local governments generally embrace brownfield revitalization programs as mechanisms for urban redevelopment. 4

These programs provide opportunities for local officials to return blighted commercial or industrial sites to productive reuse, while improving the environment and creating opportunities for many depressed communities adjacent to these sites. As Eylon (2001: E2.2) observes, “[w]hen redeveloped, the former vacant industrial sites can remove ecological threats, bring a boost to a tired neighborhood, create new job opportunities, add income to the municipality's treasury. And bring a sense of pride to its citizens.” In doing so, redevelopment initiates economic growth, improves public health, and enriches communities, all of which improves quality of life.

The Environmental Qualities of Brownfields: Contaminants and Infill Development Practically all the legislation dictating brownfields policy approaches the issue from an environmental perspective. The central focus of brownfields policy is on environmental cleanup and the distillation of hazardous and toxic contaminants from sites, particularly now that “clean standards” and liability issues, which interfered with brownfield restoration, have been resolved. Site clean up is based on standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Standard (see ‘Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessment: Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Process’ (US EPA 2003: 3431); as a result, there are standards in place to guide public officials and private developers as they seek to restore the environmental integrity of these properties. The liability issue, until recently, remained the primary obstacle to restoring brownfields as lending institutions generally refrained from extending loans to develop sites due to the uncertainty surrounding legal liability, i.e., the risk of having a buyer become a responsible party liable for the pollution and contamination of the site. States, however, resolved this “responsible party” issue by indemnifying current, non-responsible site owners. The Brownfields Revitalization Act further remedies such liability concerns by carving from CERCLA an independent Brownfield Act that essentially removes the liability issues associated with smaller, less intensely contaminated sites (relative to highly contaminated Superfund sites with which CERCLA is concerned). From an environmental perspective, brownfield policy creates viable areas from once polluted and contaminated parcels. As many such sites are located in older urban industrial areas, the cleanup of these sites can enable officials “. . . to deal effectively with the forces affecting health related behaviors” as well as improve the well being of adjacent 5

communities (Leviton, Snell, and McGinnis. 2000). Cleanup of environmentally contaminated properties through brownfield programs benefits more than the physical environment by addressing public health threats posed by hazardous and toxic contamination, which, for example, can be spread through: drinking water, ingestion (soil issues), inhalation (air quality issues), dermal (exposure issues), breast milk (pre/postnatal issues), and human activity (product use and residential issues). Removing a likely source or reducing the threat of these contaminants to human health can only work to thwart the spread of harmful contaminants and the disorders these harmful contaminants cause or create. The reduction of contaminants that threaten public health prove an amalgam of consequences from environmental remediation at brownfield sites. As Finkelstein and Johnston (2004: 1094) find in their research on lung development among infants, evidence shows that particulate compounds affect lung development and disease, leading them to conclude that such damaging threat is “. . . created by exposure to environmental toxicants.” As a result, if successfully remediated brownfields can address airborne toxicants – such as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), diesel exhausts, respirable particulate matter, and irritant gases (Finkelstein and Johnston 2004: 1093) – lung disease and associated illnesses can be mitigated as well. As air pollution is not only carbon monoxide, but includes emissions (e.g., fumes) from hazardous contaminants in groundwater and soil, and brownfield redevelopment, by stemming airborne contaminants, can, at the least, positively affect recent trends of pollution-related illnesses. Moreover, addressing brownfields in central cities can address, as Litt, et al. (2002) find in their study on selected Baltimore brownfields, incidents of cancer, diabetes, stroke, pulmonary and coronary-based illnesses (see also Cooper et al. 1991). Other research concludes that childhood lung disease is adversely affected by the “recent increase in complexity and distribution, if not the levels, of airborne pollutants, including (ozone, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide)” (Finkelstein and Johnston 2004: 1093). Chronic exposure to pollutants in urban areas yields “disproportionate pollutant exposure by socioeconomically disadvantaged groups [that] exacerbates risk of poor health and well being” among these groups (Schell and Denham 2003:111). Consequently, brownfield efforts, combined with any efforts to address contaminants prominent in urban areas, can assist in the improved health of inner city residents, particularly in urban areas concerned with ambient air.


Efforts by local governments to comply with EPA regulations make brownfields an attractive program opportunity. Local government strategies to redevelop infill areas harbor environmental windfalls through implementation by helping “communities meet national environmental standards by reducing motor vehicle emissions, improving water quality, and cleaning up and reusing land that is contaminated (or suspected of being contaminated) from former uses” (US EPA 2001: 5). As EPA notes in recent research recognizing the use of brownfield policy to promote infill development: . . . many brownfield redevelopment and infill projects are expected to have air quality benefits compared with the status quo baseline. In the baseline, growth has typically been locating in suburban and exurban areas and is expected to continue doing so. Such development often produces substantially more vehicle travel and emissions than development on infill sites. The greater the difference between the travel produced from locating at an infill site versus the travel that would have been produced by locating at a suburban or exurban site, the greater the air quality benefit of the infill location (USEPA 2001: 1). By redeveloping previously underused or unused properties in the urban core, infill development makes other transportation means more convenient and viable options that affects air quality by reducing the number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and thereby reducing total emissions (USEPA 2001: 3; Clapp and Meyer 2000). As a result, infill development, which brownfield policies can catalyze, has population and employment consequences by maintaining populations and employment in central locations more conducive to sustaining environmental effects, i.e., in an already developed area of a city, as opposed to redirecting resources to areas requiring new services (i.e., typical city services, e.g., fire, police, water, sewer, etc.). Research demonstrates that there are benefits, e.g., transportation and air quality, for directing development to infill sites as opposed to chasing development in locations beyond densely developed areas, or exurban areas. In essence, as development occurs, it proves sensible to direct this development, especially given the costs (, e.g., environmentally and in increased infrastructure needs,) governments incur coping with new development (USEPA 2001; USEPA 1999).

The Social Qualities of Brownfields: the Urban Underclass, Equity & Public Health


Directing development from greenspace and promoting infill development presents local governments with other environmental and social issues that must be confronted. The promotion of brownfield and infill redevelopment introduces environmental equity concerns and solutions. Environmental equity (also referred to as environmental justice and environmental racism) involves the disproportionate location of minority groups near pollution producing facilities and operations and/or a disproportionate affliction of pollution consequences to health and environment on minority groups. According to the GAO, “the burden of waste facilities and environmental pollutants — such as lead, selected air pollutants, and pesticides — is disproportionate among groups of people and should be alleviated is known as “environmental justice” (USGAO 1995: 2, emphasis added). Brownfield redevelopment initiatives are generally located on contaminated sites of former noxious facilities (e.g., foundries, bulk production processes, etc). Past practices associated with noxious facility siting and location have resulted in many of these sites being disproportionately located in, or adjacent to minority and, or impoverished communities. Research findings on causal activities leading to environmental discrimination are varied, e.g., locations in minority communities is attributed to location dynamics of real estate markets and practices (legal and illegal), blatant public and private discriminatory siting practices, and economics, i.e., cheaper property attracted both noxious facilities and people unable to afford to live elsewhere (Pollock and Vittas 1995; USGAO 1995; Been 1994; Anderton, et al. 1994; Greenberg 1993; Hird 1993; Zimmerman 1993; Bullard 1990; United Church of Christ 1987; USGAO 1983). Regardless of the varied results in the research, the perception of discriminatory practices involved in siting decisions is ostensibly an issue, especially since this perception is associated with brownfields (Jaconetty 1999). In fact, recent brownfield policy reflects this perspective as federal, state, and local officials promote redevelopment in distressed areas through incentives, geographic restrictions, etc. As a result, brownfield redevelopment is generally conducted in “blighted areas” and is seen as a remedy for combating continued deterioration in urban cores. As Greenberg, et al., observe, brownfields are being used to encourage redevelopment in communities and transform them by “becoming a symbol of the hope for neighborhood redevelopment rather than a blatant neighborhood black eye” (Greenberg et al. 2000). The irony of having a “neighborhood black eye” lies in a community needing it – a brownfield – in order to draw public funding


that attracts private investment to these depressed communities that likely would be void of stress if not for past locational practices that either placed a noxious facility near these people, or placed these people near a noxious facility through economic or social practices. Integrating concerns from the environmental justice literature with public health problems aligned with such disadvantaged, environmentally threatened communities permits yet another perspective of brownfields policy – health issues prevalent in depressed communities. The literature notes an association between “socioeconomic disadvantage,” pollution exposure, and health problems (Schell and Denham 2003: 112; Fox et al. 2002; Schell and Ulijaszek 1999; Strickland and Shetty 1998; Schell and Czerwinksi 1998). In urban communities laden with brownfields, a poor environmental situation is exacerbated by the presence of pollution, which ultimately threatens the health of those residents. Evidence is available that clearly demonstrates “that people who are poorer in the United States are more likely to be exposed to multiple, environmental risks that portend adverse health consequences” (Evans and Kantrowitz 2002: 325). In their study on the “social variation in exposure to acute risks” (which is one of the few empirical examinations conducted), Derezinski, et al. (2003: 140-141) find that “ . . . when controlling for county and state structures, as well as urbanization, manufacturing, and industrialization, the acute risk associated with chemical accidents at fixed facilities shows moderate to minor inequality with respect to income and minority composition.” Recognizing that different communities bear disproportionate pollution burdens enables us to explore the public health consequences of residing in these communities, i.e., those predominantly minority poor communities located in the urban core. While the threats to human health from pollution are many, particularly among the sensitive populations of children and the elderly, attention to specific urban pollution threats is warranted. Health threats associated with urban life are only exacerbated when located adjacent to contaminated parcels such as brownfields. As research demonstrates, there are various threats to urban residents’ health; these include:
• • • •

cardiovascular risks; lead exposure (low-level); chemicals/toxicity; air pollution (outdoor);


• • • • •

pulmonary risks; breast milk contamination; perinatal and infant mortality; low birth weight; and, noise pollution.

As a result, merely residing in an urban area imposes environmental consequences; yet, compounding this residential location are mitigating factors that aggravate already unhealthy situations, e.g., poverty, living conditions, and sanitary practices. As Finkelstein and Johnston (2004) allude in their research on child lung disease, inferior occupational and domestic environments or practices contribute to unhealthy situations and conventions. The conditions of urban life introduce a myriad of health threats to urban dwellers as features of urban life impose on the “energy budgets from urban activity patterns and diets, psychosocial stress, steep social gradients, increased contact between social groups resulting in increased transmission and evolution of infectious disease, and increased pollution largely from transportation and industry” (Schell and Denham, 2003: 111). Bashir (2002: 733) echoes these sentiments stating that significant research demonstrates the harmful association of asthma, neurological damage, malnutrition, stunted growth, accidents, and injury with household triggers like poor insulation, combustion appliances, cockroach and rodent infestation, dust mites, hyper- and hypothermia, unaffordable rent, and dangerous levels of lead in soil and household paint. In such a challenging setting, allergens become common health threats; as Finkelstein and Johnston (2004: 1094) discuss “allergens [here referring to dust mite and cockroaches] have well-documented modulatory impacts . . . ” on the lungs after heightened and prolonged exposure. Such persistent exposure increases the risk of pulmonary disease and urban asthma and provides additional “evidence that environmental endotoxin is related to lung disease.” (2004: 1094). Since there is evidence of relationships between lower socioeconomic status and pollution exposure, particularly in core urban areas, brownfield policy, given that most qualifying sites are in urban areas, can work to assuage these environmental threats among this demographic. In fact, public health researchers battle remedies to health problems among the urban poor and suggest (which brownfield policy addresses somewhat) a move from individual-level intervention to community-level intervention in order to “change structures and ecologies so 10

as to facilitate health promotion”, i.e., a holistic effort, in these areas (Levitan, et al. 2000: 866). Supporting these sentiments are the conclusions of Litt, et al. (2002: 866) based on their examination of brownfield hazards on-site and in adjacent neighborhoods; they submit that “[r]ebuilding brownfield neighborhoods through an integrative public health and planning approach will be essential for improving the odds for sustainable redevelopment and securing long-term gains in public health.” Consequently, understanding these public health threats, particularly for children and the elderly, lend further support for increasing the use of brownfields policy and targeting the policy at communities located in the urban core. With the mitigation of brownfields comes improved environmental quality for the immediate site and general area, as well as the removal or prevention of health threats from adjacent sites. As a result, brownfield policy addresses many environmental problems and poses improved public health based on the decontamination and remediation of environmental threats. Another consequence of restoring former contaminated sites to productive uses is the effect on an urban community’s quality of life. By creating more aesthetically pleasing areas, improving conditions, and removing environmental threats, urban residents improve their sense of place; such activities can ultimately turn around many depressed communities by reducing crime, increasing personal incomes, and inviting homeownership. As neighborhoods improve, so does quality of life. The Economic Qualities of Brownfields: Private Investment and Redevelopment In assessing the literature on brownfields redevelopment, several areas can be identified to catalyze redevelopment. At the state level and consistent with Reese’s (2002) findings, Feiock and Stream (2001: 318) find support for planning and decision-making relevant to brownfield redevelopment and note that “program design and planning that reduce uncertainty have the potential to offset the negative investment effects of regulatory costs.” Despite the reduction in uncertainty through regulatory symmetry, successful reclamation of brownfields may not overcome negative investment effects. Recognizing and therefore concentrating efforts on the planning and coordination of institutional and individual actors yields an environmental and economic policy marriage as “[t]his reorientation appears to mirror an organizational dynamic that is observable in other environmental regulatory agency settings: a shift from the command and control approach to reliance on market-oriented incentives to generate desired environmental behaviors” (ICF 1999: 6). The redevelopment 11

of brownfield sites must initially ensure potential investors/developers “expected returns on investment rather than attempts to maximize environmental protections or mitigations” while achieving socially desired goals (ICF 1999: 6). As brownfield sites are generally located in depressed areas (either socially, economically, or both), challenges associated with achieving a positive investment extend beyond incentives (Peters and Fisher 2004). Through their research on enterprise zones, Peters and Fisher (2004) determine the effect of incentives is essentially inconsequential in all but a few cases. Peters and Fisher (2004) suggest that the negative characteristics of featured sites (which in their research were enterprise zones) cannot be overcome solely by incentives, i.e., such fragile communities must first overcome the entrenched and widespread blight present in these areas. Investment into fragile communities is recognition that environmental cleanup of contaminated sites is achievable only when “private investment returns on redevelopment projects [are] high enough to attract the needed private capital” (ICF 1999: 6). Not surprisingly, recent brownfields policy reflects efforts of federal, state, and local officials to reduce redevelopment costs to promote development in distressed areas. Findings from a preliminary assessment of brownfield policy in three states confirm that success is associated with cost reductions. Cost reductions “appear to increase investor interest in contaminated sites by reducing the actual outlays for project feasibility decisions, limiting uncertainty about regulatory outcomes, and raising expectations of project profitability” (ICF 1999: 6). Meyer (2000a: 8-9) submits that direct regulatory relief and financial support, which reduces transaction costs associated with brownfield remediation, are likely to fully affect redevelopment of specific brownfield sites. These regulatory and financial factors must maintain “regulatory standardization” to some degree to lessen uncertainty for private developers while providing consistency over time; such regulatory standardization, if accepted, provides both direct and indirect financial support for redeveloping brownfield sites. These regulatory and financial factors are summarized as: • regulatory relief property mitigation costs; monitoring costs; deed restrictions and covenants and institutional controls; changing mitigation controls and improved detection technologies; and, 12


financial support environmental assessment; project delays; higher fees associated with loans and underwriting; and, legal fees (Meyer 2000a: 5, 11, 13, and Table 1).

Such incentive based support is imperative for reducing uncertainty surrounding brownfields redevelopment and ensuring active, vibrant revitalization of these underutilized properties. A review of the appraisal and assessment literature lends support to the regulatory and financial factors by reducing uncertainty and cutting up-front costs of private developers, which are critical factors for attracting interest and investment. Other factors affecting these properties are market characteristics; Jaconetty (1999) identifies market demand as an essential element that draws private sector interest. In fact, Hula (2003: 10, 13), contrary to Peters and Fisher (2004), finds brownfield redevelopment (in Michigan) occurs in more desirable areas, i.e., in better communities and neighborhoods, not in blighted areas. As a result, redevelopment opportunities are available in recovering or recovered (evidence of redevelopment occurring or occurred) neighborhoods and communities, creating more attractive markets for these properties. Echoing this sentiment is Robinson, et al. (2002) who conclude that, among other effects, market acceptance is crucial to redevelopment; they suggest that market risk is introduced when turning over the property post redevelopment, or at the least post remediation, as potential buyers can leverage property history, or resist property altogether (though recent regulatory activity addresses this problem). Further, potential investors or redevelopers must ensure that property value exceeds redevelopment costs, which is complicated due to future risks of additional remediation and legal liability (Robinson, et al. 2002). This future risk factor is tremendous as CERCLA liability is retroactive and protective clauses and state exemption may not withstand legal scrutiny (Jaconetty 1999). Despite these serious concerns on behalf of developers and investors, there is tremendous interest and activity in brownfield redevelopment. As a result, market demand is present and uncertainty and costs risks are mitigated by prospects for returns on investments aided by state efforts. Another area important for understanding redevelopment is site remediation and intended reuse. DeSousa (2000) and Ihlanfedlt and Taylor (2002) find that successful brownfield


redevelopment is most likely when the intended reuse is commercial or retail rather than industrial; industrial reuses tend to fair most poorly due to low marginal returns on investment. Moreover, Ihlanfedlt and Taylor (2002) note that the negative spillover effect of hazardous waste sites for adjacent and nearby properties is most egregious for industrial sites, which supports DeSousa’s (2000) conclusion that redevelopment of brownfields into industrial sites is the least desirable course of action for investors and redevelopers. Thus, brownfield redevelopment programs are likely to be most successful when seeking commercial or retail reuses for these properties. Site remediation (also referred to as site mitigation) is another important factor for successful brownfield redevelopment. Site remediation, or correcting environmental contamination problems to specified levels, is contingent on intended reuse and “designed to address hazardous materials consistent with the CERCLA definitions . . . “ (ICF 1999: 4). The most stringent standards are imposed on residential reuse, with the least stringent imposed on industrial reuse; remediation standards for commercial and retail reuse fall between standards for residential and industrial reuses (Meyer 2000a; Ihlanfedlt and Taylor 2002) For example, in Michigan the state sets general standards, as opposed to site specific standards, for restoring contaminated properties for use (Hula 2001: 5), while Illinois legislation “encourages redevelopment by establishing a three-tiered remediation scheme based upon a technical and practical evaluation of the risk to both human health and the environment of any intended future use of the site” (Meyer and Lyons 2000: 57). Many states now employ a “risk based corrective action (RBCA)” that permits variable remediation standards depending on planned use of the property, which “appear to help redevelopment of contaminated sites, even those converted to residential land uses” (ICF 1999: 6; Goldstein 2003). The EPA provides clarity for property owners and policy officials in a ruling that addresses both risks and liability for property owners; it establishes requirements for conducting ‘all appropriate inquiry,’ including the conduct of such activities to establish an innocent landowner defense under CERCLA that is also satisfied through the use of ASTM Standard E1527-2000, or the ‘Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessment: Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Process’ (US EPA 2003: 3431). The importance of standards, even variable standards, for site restoration cannot be overestimated as it is this phase of brownfield reclamation that introduces the most costs, as well as uncertainty, to redevelopment.


Given these potential complications for brownfield redevelopment, Millimet (2003) finds that compliance, enforcement, and related asymmetries (administrative, legal, or statutory) affect the type of facility able to internalize such regulatory demands. Though his analysis is not specific to brownfield redevelopment, Millimet (2003: 294) finds that large firms are capable of internalizing increased costs associated with pollution abatement requirements given the “economies of scale in pollution abatement, greater access to legal resources to appeal violations, and greater political leverage.” Recognizing the importance of a capacity to incur increased regulatory costs, Milliment (2003: 293-294) concludes that “the effect of state- and industry-specific environmental abatement costs are shown to be important determinants of establishment size in pollution-intensive industries at the county level.” Also supporting this proclivity that size does matter for location and redevelopment, is the preferred parcel size for brownfield redevelopment. Meyer and Lyons (2000: 52) find that developers prefer larger sites (of at least five (5) acres). Such size minimums allow developers and investors to recoup their investments at an acceptable level, which is estimated to be around a high of 20 percent for residential redevelopment to a low of 8 percent for industrial redevelopment (DeSousa 2000: 845). DeSousa’s finding of acceptable return rates for investors leads to one of the final and most important factors in brownfield redevelopment – costs. Costs involved in brownfield redevelopment can be significant and generally entail elements of all previously mentioned factors. DeSousa (2000: 850) finds “the private sector is motivated to undertake brownfield redevelopment only if it is economically profitable to do so . . .” The most prominent factor in brownfield redevelopment is the cost of the site, which is dictated by the local commercial real estate market. In areas where demand for sites is high and the real estate market is good, the costs for sites increase, as do potential returns. There are factors, however, that mitigate redevelopment costs. Many state and local governments provide financial relief to developers and investors. The greater the financial relief, coupled with efficient processing procedures (on behalf of agencies granting this relief), the greater the interest in brownfield redevelopment. Swartz-Vieweg (2000), in acknowledging the paucity of research on the utility of incentives, suggest an assessment of brownfield redevelopment incentives to see what incentives perform as intended; but, based


on their preliminary review, they recommend incentives that provide property tax relief, tax credits or abatements for property cleanup costs, and tax increment financing (TIF) (SwartzVieweg 2000: 338-341). Support for TIF is corroborated by Ihlanfedlt and Taylor’s (2002) study of commercial and industrial property values affected by hazardous waste sites in Atlanta; they suggest it may be feasible to utilize tax increment (TIF) to remediate some of these sites. In a TIF program, the local government would issues bonds in an amount sufficient to fund clean-up efforts at a contaminated site. The tax revenue to repay the bonds would come from the increased tax revenue associated with the incremental increases in property values surrounding the HWS (hazardous waste sites) post-cleanup (Ihlanfedlt and Taylor 2002: 18). Given evidence from the literature, TIF poses potential as a cost relief mechanism for brownfield redevelopment. Successful financial incentives, however, depend equally on the experience of government representatives with brownfield redevelopment. Meyer and Lyons (2000: 53) find incentives only as good as the people administering these; their study reveals that firms seeking to redevelop brownfield sites emphasize the importance of “competence and staffing of the agencies with which they had to work.” People unfamiliar with, or inexperienced in brownfield redevelopment impose time delays on developers, which drive up costs and reduce returns on investment (Meyer and Lyons, 2000). As Ross (2002: 71) notes, the time involved to remediate property, though often disregarded, is a “loss of use of property,” which is a factor in assessing property value, and is considered “deferred use [and] is a reversion of the use,” thus a reduction in valuation. In fact, many firms refrain from tax incentives due to delays associated with government involvement (Meyer and Lyons 2000). Consequently, financial incentive programs must be economically attractive and administered by staff conversant and experienced in all phases of brownfield redevelopment. Such considerations can make brownfield redevelopment more economically viable and “facilitate redevelopment by making the process more predictable, more certain, and less risky and costly” (Goldstein 2003: 37). Another element associated with costing brownfield redevelopment is the uncertainty surrounding future risk associated with site remediation and intended reuse; both considerations pose consequences for investment costs. Due to more stringent environmental


remediation standards, the most costly remediation projects involve residential redevelopment; industrial sites, though less expensive to remediate, yield the least return for investors. Commercial and retail redevelopment projects pose the best scenario for investors and developers interested in high returns and moderate remediation costs. Though these returns and costs are variable depending on project complexity, commercial and retail redevelopment tend to provide acceptable risk levels for investors and redevelopers of brownfields. The size of the site and the ability of the redevelopment firm to internalize upfront costs create scenarios conducive to successful brownfield redevelopment ventures. Brownfield Redevelopment in the City of Charlotte Like many cities its size, Charlotte has an active brownfield program that comprises over 25 percent of the state’s program (see Table 1). In Charlotte, the Economic Development Division, which is a division of the City Manager’s Office, administers the brownfield redevelopment program. A unique aspect of the program is its full-time assignment of a state employee from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the agency responsible for state brownfield program and policies. Due to increased brownfield activity in Charlotte over the past decade, the city entered into an agreement with the state to share costs for an employee to provide brownfield program and policy assistance in the area. [Table 1 about here] In 1996, Charlotte’s Brownfield program started as an Environmental Protection Agency Brownfield Pilot program and received a start-up grant of $200,000. The grant was specifically for the assessment of suspected contaminated sites in the Historic South End area of Charlotte (also referred to simply as “South End”). The South End area is the focus of this research as it has a brownfield history, several remediated sites, and some longitudinal data.1 The South End area is located approximately one mile from the Charlotte central business district (downtown), which is home to several prominent financial service companies. South End is a former industrial area nestled between one of the city’s first suburbs, the Dilworth community (which continues to thrive as one of the city’s most wealthy and desirable neighborhoods), and the relatively distressed, but active communities of Wilmore and Brookhills (see Table 2). The South End area experienced much depression from the 1970s to the 1990s. During the 1990s, many of the old textile mills and abandoned warehouses in


the area were redeveloped into commercial shops, restaurants, and design-based businesses. Also assisting in the organization of the redevelopment of South End is the South End Development Corporation, which was founded in the 1990s to promote the area. To further its commitment to South End redevelopment, the City of Charlotte created a special tax district to fund on-going and new initiatives in the area (Historic South End 2004). The first brownfields agreement completed in North Carolina was for one of these South End sites – Camden Square (NC DENR 2004). The private investment for the Camden Square project is currently estimated at $15 million. The Camden Square development is a design center that houses studios, showrooms, and offices on a former industrial site. Camden Square investors also received a grant from the City of Charlotte to assist with brownfield application requirements for submission to the DENR. [Table 2 about here] To qualify for services administered by the Charlotte Brownfield program, property owners must meet eligibility requirements. Foremost of these requirements is location of the subject property; eligible properties must be located in the City of Charlotte’s Business Services Program Geography (BSPG), a designated geographic area based on, with few exceptions, the city’s “City Within A City” area (CWAC); this is a geographical area designated by local planning policy and based on Census boundaries that encompass nearly 75 inner city neighborhoods (exclusive of the central business district) characterized by economic and neighborhood distress (City of Charlotte 2002b). All commercial, industrial and development businesses (not residential) located in the BSPG are eligible for program services, which includes the city’s brownfield program. Second, properties qualifying for participation in the Charlotte Brownfield program must demonstrate that “there has been an actual release or substantial threat of a release of hazardous substances” (City of Charlotte 2004b). The Charlotte Brownfield program is comprised of two assistance programs: the Brownfields Assessment Grant Program and Property Tax Incentives for improvements. • The Brownfield Assessment Grant Program: this program assists property owners in preparing contamination assessments of sites. The program provides up to 50 percent in matching funds with a limit of

With 8 to 10 sites, the South End brownfield area makes up nearly one-fifth of Charlotte’s program.


$20,000 per brownfield site and can be used by commercial, industrial and development businesses. Grants may be applied to most costs associated with the contamination assessment including: assessment activities, clean up design costs, and legal expenses. • The Property Tax Incentives Program: through state legislation this program provides property tax incentives for improvements made to real property enrolled in the brownfields program. The property tax incentive program applies to the first five years after completion of improvements to the property (see Table 3) and is based on a percent tax abatement for the property. Most significant is the ability of property owners to utilize the tax abatement for any improvement (there is no dollar investment threshold) to an eligible property with no time limitation. In addition, this property tax relief is transferable to new owners, i.e., if residential units are constructed on the site, the tax relief can be transferred to the homeowners. For example, if a property owner makes an improvement on the property each year for five years, that owner realizes a 90 percent property tax abatement for each year after the record of improvement and only after the last year of the last improvement (or the fifth year of 90 percent tax abatement) does the sliding scale begin; of those five years, regardless of the significance of the improvement, the property owner realizes a 90 percent abatement of property taxes. [Table 3 about here] The South End area contains nine brownfield sites that either have Brownfield Agreements with the state of North Carolina or are in the application process; a list of sites in the South End area is provided in Table 4. Included in this study are only those sites that have a completed BFA on file with the state or are deemed actively eligible, i.e., the site will likely qualify for BFA, but final approval is pending.2 The City of Charlotte’s Brownfield Program is an active program with several years of experience in the remediation of contaminated sites. [Table 4 about here] Data and Methods for Conducting an Initial Assessment of Brownfields Much research exists on understanding the consequences of brownfield sites, but there are few specific evaluations of these programs; as a result, assessing the utility of brownfield
The South Boulevard/MPG site, though included in this study, has information only available on economics; the brownfield agreement has yet to be finalized.


programs is underdeveloped. Despite there being many sites actively redeveloped or redeveloping since the mid 1990s, there is no standard (national, state, or local) for reporting information associated with redeveloping these sites, which complicates evaluation of this program. Most states, though active in brownfield redevelopment, have not established a tracking system detailing performance indicators relevant for evaluating outcomes from brownfield redevelopment. Though there are suggestions for such indicators, most are not practical, depend on citizen perceptions, and/or involve proprietary information (e.g., see Whiteman and Groeneveld 2002: 57-62). Factors commonly thought to derive from brownfield redevelopment are detailed as goals for these projects (e.g., jobs created, new housing, contaminant reduction, etc.), yet reducing these items to quantifiable terms pose significant collection/utility dilemmas and demands. For example, job creation is often a cited goal for brownfield redevelopment, but determining the number of jobs created by a redeveloped site is quite difficult, particularly if the site is reused as a commercial or retail location. Similar difficulties plague data collection for a host of other possible indicators to determine the effects of brownfield redevelopment, particularly those requiring extensive, detailed research (e.g., neighborhood surveys, reduction in pollution levels, etc.). In an effort to stimulate research into viable indicators to use in evaluating brownfield policy, we identify factors according to conventions for creating performance indicators.3 Performance measurement is a means for determining those factors, or indicators, that permit a comparison of current practices to past practices, or to similar (or the same) practices by others (government, agencies, programs, etc.) (see Hatry 1978; Ammons 1996; Hatry 1999; Ammons 2002). Yet, establishing practical, viable, and universally useful performance measures for brownfield policy that endure over time is a daunting task. Recognizing challenges for determining acceptable indicators, as well as the difficulty of establishing acceptable performance measures, we seek to identify indicators that can be commonly applied to brownfield programs by state and local governments.


Though we readily confess to the limitations of our data gathering efforts based on data availability and access, both of which are hampered by the absence of national and/or state data bases on brownfield outcomes.


Data used to analyze these South End sites are drawn from several sources and conform to the literature as well as standards for creating viable performance measures of brownfield programs. Data are from a variety of sources and most are freely available from state or local government agencies. Assessing data in an effort to determine useful performance indicators, however, is challenging as information is derived from several disparate sources, i.e., no single agency tracks this information in any uniform manner. Brownfield Measures: Economics Data on property values from 2001 to 2003 are from the Mecklenburg County tax assessment office; actual tax bills for each site are reviewed to determine the real value of each property. Other data are from interviews with the state’s brownfield employee for the Charlotte region as well as the City of Charlotte Brownfield program representative. Remaining data on these sites are from individual Brownfield Agreements and associated paperwork required by the State of North Carolina as well as applications made to the City of Charlotte for grant funding. Private investment information is from interviews with individual property developers and/or attorneys representing investors or developers of each site. Information on the private dollars invested per site is also gleaned from individual property owners’ applications for brownfield agreements and personal interviews with property owners and/or developers. The private dollar investment amount is the estimated investment for a particular brownfield site by an applicant. As estimates, these assessment and cleanup costs are speculative and the accuracy of these estimates cannot be confirmed based on available sources of information. Assessment (and/or cleanup) costs data are available for only four of nine sites. Assessment costs, as defined by the DENR, include legal fees associated with the assessment and associated clean up design costs. Public investment in the South End area is based on funds expended by the City of Charlotte. Public investment includes curb and gutter, intersection improvements and business corridor improvements, e.g., streetscapes. Though investment figures per site are not available, these are mentioned to note the public support for brownfield programs. Total estimated dollars invested by the city through 2003 is $4.8 million (City of Charlotte, 2004a). In addition to


the $4.8 million in infrastructure investments, the City has appropriated $20 million for South Corridor Improvements, which includes the South End area. According to the City of Charlotte FY2001, Year End Corporate Performance Report, the economic effect of development along the South Corridor specific to the South End area is estimated at well over $20 million (City of Charlotte, 2002a: 26). Brownfield Measures: Environmental Environmental data on these parcels is available from the BFAs regulating the use of these properties. Using information from environmental assessments completed for each property (with the exception of the South Boulevard MPG site), we identify each hazardous substance based on media contamination – groundwater or soil. For each media, we list all hazardous substances found on site. In addition, using the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), we list each contaminant’s hazardous substance ranking and calculated toxic point total, which is based on a its toxicity, concentration, exposure, and threat to health (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2003). These data allow us a loose proxy of site environmental mitigation based on the containment (though not the total eradication) of these substances in the environment. Brownfield Measures: Social Social data, or the effects of brownfield redevelopment on adjacent communities, includes efforts to assess the social consequences of brownfield redevelopment on neighboring communities. The City of Charlotte, to its credit, initiated a Quality of Life Index (the Index) initiative in the 1990s. Using the Index, we are able to identify Neighborhood Statistical Areas (NSA) in the city. Each NSA is evaluated according to scores across four dimensions that comprise each neighborhood’s rating in the Quality of Life Index. An overall rating or index score for each NSA is obtained by summing scores for each dimension. The overall rating, i.e., the determination of whether a neighborhood is rated fragile, threatened, or stable (see Table 5 and Appendix A), is determined by taking scores on these dimensions, then evaluating these based on a weighted computation. Scores are provided for the following dimensions: social, crime, physical, and economics, with each dimension based on components reflecting the respective dimension (and are listed in Table 6 and explained fully


in Appendix A). Finally, each of the city’s neighborhoods receives a quality of life index rating. The final index score is derived as follows: . . . [scores are] weighted in the following manner: Social, 30%; Crime, 30%; Physical, 30%; and Economic, 10%. Once a weighted composite score was determined for each neighborhood, these scores were again standardized by setting the mean value to zero and expressing each neighborhood’s score in standard deviation units above or below the mean. Large positive scores indicate a high quality of life while large negative scores reveal a low quality of life (Charlotte QOL Index, 2002: 5). Understanding communities adjacent to brownfield redevelopment provides insight into the effects of brownfield redevelopment, though these effects can be both direct and indirect. Evaluating the progress, stagnation, or digression of these neighborhoods can provide valuable input into the process and plans for brownfield redevelopment. [Tables 5 and 6 about here] Assessing Brownfield Program Performance With so few cases, we can only offer a very limited assessment. For the economics and environmental assessments, univariate analyses are presented. As social indicators prove a bit more elusive, we assess these items qualitatively; an existing qualitative study, though based on statistical data, permits us to examine the effect, if any, of brownfield redevelopment on communities adjacent to the South End project. In addition, for the economic data, we test the viability of brownfields redevelopment using a difference of means tests to determine whether there are statistically significant differences in property values. Through these data we can assess the social, economic, and environmental aspects of brownfield redevelopment in the South End area. Guided by the literature, we assume an active real estate market, which creates higher demand for land within the BSPG, as we offer these hypotheses; we expect that: H1: property tax values are associated with brownfield redevelopment; H2: investments (public and private) are associated with brownfield redevelopment; H3: social improvements associated with brownfield redevelopment; H4: environmental improvement associated with property values; and, H5: environmental improvement associated with investments (public and private).


Findings Using available indicators, we are able to assess whether associations across a host of indicators – property values, private investment, grant funding, hazardous contamination, and neighborhood ratings – are a affected by brownfield redevelopment. Our findings suggest brownfield redevelopment in the South End area has had a positive effect across all factors. Findings from this research, however, are limited due to the limited number of cases in this analysis (N=8 and N=10) and must be viewed with caution. Due to our low number of cases, we recognize that these findings must be used only as a guide for assessing this program, not for drawing specific conclusions about this program or brownfield programs in general. The univariate analysis in Table 7 shows the increase in property values for the nine sites and suggests that there is a connection between brownfield sites and increased property values; this finding is further supported by the average and median percent increases. Property values for brownfields in the South End area increased from 2001 to 2003, averaging a 55 percent increase compared to an average countywide commercial property value increase of 26 percent (Farrow 2004). That an increase in property values is attributable to redevelopment is evidenced by the Hamilton Property; though this site has entered the BFA process, the current owner is not actively redeveloping the property as he is realizing profit through property value increases and has no current plan to invest in improvements. Given the increase in property value for the Hamilton site, we suspect that sites adjacent to this redevelopment are increasing as well. The decision of “non-activity” by the property owner of the Hamilton site is prudent given findings from Ihlanfedlt and Taylor’s (2002) research that notes the effect of redevelopment on adjacent properties. Also, increases in property values enhance prospects for redevelopment since pressure to recover cost solely through end use is reduced with increased values, i.e., owners and developers are able to recover up-front costs of redevelopment through mere increases in property values. [Table 7 about here] Moving from impressions from univariate listings, we examine whether the difference in property values enjoys empirical support. The City of Charlotte’s Brownfield redevelopment program appears to be associated with an increase in property values for properties studied in this research (see Table 8). The t value of 1.263 is slightly lower than the required 1.833 for a two-tailed test of statistical significance. Despite the limited number of cases in the


analysis (N=9), there is an indication of a statistically significant difference between property values over time. [Table 8 about here] The estimated private investment in these brownfield sites lends further evidence that the program is working. The average investment for these sites is slightly greater than $8 million (and the median investment is $4.2 million). Developers and owners are using available incentives to redevelop brownfield sites in the South End area. The success of property tax incentives is elusive as we are currently unable to determine the tax relief property owners incur from improving these sites. Regardless, we believe property owners are using these incentives as most parcels in this study have been improved beyond site remediation. With regard to TIF, a state referendum recently passed (in November 2004) that permits local governments to utilize this finance strategy. Thus, more incentives may be offered to developers or property owners based on property value returns for redeveloped sites. Given the increases in property values and the investment activity for these brownfield sites, it is apparent that the program is producing tangible economic effects for the community. Yet, fully analyzing the economics of a brownfield program depends on longitudinal data that are not yet available. While the use of other indicators – market and future risk factors – noted in the literature lack data specific to these sites, our small site area is relatively homogenous such that speculation across these factors, though tenuous, can be offered. Foremost among indicators identified is market condition. Charlotte’s commercial real estate market is quite vibrant and has remained so since the economic downturn post 9/11, and the South End area mirrors the greater Charlotte market. The real estate market in Charlotte is robust as indicated by an average commercial vacancy rate of slightly more than 15 percent in 2002, while the retail vacancy rate showed greater strength with a 7.5 percent vacancy rate for 2002, a slight decline from 2001 rates of more than 8 percent (Carolina Real Data 2004). Related to the market in which brownfield properties are located is the size of available parcels. As shown in the literature, parcel size is an important consideration as the larger parcels permit developers and investors to more easily capitalize their investment. In this research, parcel size did not conform to literature; the median and average size of a


brownfield parcel in the South End area is approximately one-half acre (0.5 ac). Given Millimet’s (2003) and Meyer and Lyons’ (2000) findings that larger parcels are more preferable to developers, this is not the experience in this area of Charlotte. It appears that site size is somewhat mitigated by the viability of the market demand for property in or near the proposed redevelopment sites and appears to be the case here, particularly since these sites are prime commercial real estate, which are made more attractive with BSPG incentives, that are adjacent to the central business district. Another tangible element used in Charlotte to increase interest in brownfield redevelopment, is the decision by DENR to dedicate a full time employee specializing in brownfields projects. Though a non-monetary incentive, such an action demonstrates the state and city’s commitment to brownfield redevelopment in the greater Charlotte area. This specialist provides technical expertise on, and is familiar with the state’s brownfield process. The dedication of an employee solely to this program addresses many concerns of developers and owners as noted by Meyer and Lyons (2003) and Goldstein (2003) regarding lost time and delays associated with programmatic processes and regulatory procedures. Moreover, through their expertise, this DENR employee provides a planner and coordinator familiar with institutional and individual actors crucial to expediting development of these sites in a standardized and predictable manner, which reduces uncertainties, thereby creating a less erratic and costly experience for all involved in the redevelopment process (Feiock and Stream 2001; Meyer 2000; Meyer and Lyons 2002; Goldstein 2003). While redevelopment of South End area is largely positive – increased commercial and residential development as well as increased property values of redeveloped sites and properties adjacent to the South End area – there are other consequences, both positive and negative, to this area’s renewed growth and activity. The use of incentives and infrastructure development coupled with a strong real estate market raised interests of private sector developers and investors for brownfield properties located in the South End area. In addition, public sector concerns about quality of life issues in adjacent neighborhoods and job growth in the South End area emphasized redevelopment to complement these needs and concerns.


Efforts by the city ensured that adjacent neighborhoods benefit from the positive spillover effects from South End redevelopment. That noxious facilities developed in and around these communities indicates environmental equity, or as the GAO (1995) suggests a disproportionate burden of such facilities borne by marginalized communities (also see Derezinski, et al. 2003). By targeting its brownfield redevelopment strategies at BSPG locations, Charlotte’s plan seeks to remedy past environmental inequalities. Such a concerted effort to recognize the importance of positive spillover effects is ultimately realized as one of the area’s communities (Brookhills) improved its quality of life neighborhood index rating to a “stable” community in 2002 from a “threatened” community rating in 2000 (see Table 5). In fact, as shown on Table 9, the Brookhills community has improved across a host of quality of life indicators. Most notably, the Brookhills community improved its physical dimension rating from fragile to threatened, seeing gains in all but one indicator. Though this success has not been realized in the adjacent Wilmore neighborhood, which, though a geographically much larger community, remains a “fragile” neighborhood according to the index rating (see Appendix A; City of Charlotte 2002b: 4, Appendix D). The Wilmore community, though undergoing considerable change as noted by its movement from fragile to threatened index ratings on social and crime dimensions of the quality of life rating, remains marginally depressed. In essence, as Greenberg, et al. (2000) suggest, the redevelopment of brownfields in these communities provides hope for these communities as they sustain public and private investments in these areas. Improvement in these communities is evident, but to improve the quality of life rating, the Wilmore community must improve its rating on one of the more challenging dimensions on the rating index – improving its physical condition. With support from the city, e.g., through investment in infrastructure, this challenge will likely be met and both communities could see their fortunes increase concomitantly with the rebirth and growth of South End. Another tangible result of redevelopment adjacent to these challenged communities is the improvement in public health. [Table 9 about here] The primary goal of brownfield redevelopment remains the environment. Given the basic success of the brownfield redevelopment in the South End area, examining how the program fares with regard to mitigating environmental contamination is vital for determining overall


program success or failure. While we are unable to directly assess incidents of cancer, stroke, pulmonary and coronary-based illnesses prone to brownfields in the urban core (see Litt, et al. 2002), we can assess the remediation of hazardous contaminants. Recognizing that environmental remediation of these sites has mitigated many hazardous substances with high toxic scores (US Health and Human Services (HHS) 2003), a tentative conclusion of success is possible. As shown in Table 10, the brownfield sites at the South End location were an environmental debacle as toxic scores (which is a composite score denoting degree of threat to health for hazardous contaminants) ranged from a combined groundwater and soil contamination low of 511 to a combined high of 2415 (out of a maximum 1800) (see HHS 2003). [Table 10 about here] Further validating the usefulness of the brownfield program for mitigating environmental contamination are the correlations between toxic scores for groundwater and soil contaminants and investment and property values for the South End project parcels. As shown in Table 11, there are statistically significant positive correlations between hazardous contamination scores and private investment; this finding suggests that there is greater private investment in the most polluted sites. Moreover, the inverse relationships noted for property values and hazardous contamination demonstrate that contamination declined with increased values, or that the rise in property values is correlated with reductions in groundwater and soil contamination. Given these findings, there is evidence to suggest definite environmental benefits from the redevelopment of brownfields in the South End area. [Table 11 about here]

An Successful Socioenviromental-Economic Policy In this assessment of a Charlotte Brownfield Program, we can confidently speak of it as a success across program goals – environmental, social, and economic. Brownfield redevelopment in the South End provides evidence of improvement in each area; the programmatic goals address:



community elements – improving the urban underclass, addressing questions of environmental equity, and improving public health by eradicating hazardous contaminants;


environmental elements – reducing levels of pollution and directing infill growth to the urban core; and,


economic elements – creating private investment and redevelopment opportunities and directing investment in the BSPG.

In creating social, economic, and environmental windfalls, however, there is one critical unintended consequence – increased property values for residential property in adjacent communities. While not of significant consequence for the more wealthy residential section of Dilworth, increased property values pose difficulties for long time Brookhills and Wilmore residents; residents of these two communities are generally older, on fixed incomes, in a lower to moderate income category, and enjoy substantial homeownership rates (35 and 38 percent respectively). Consequently, some long-time homeowners of these communities face relocation. The increase in property values has increased the annual property tax bill for these individuals; for many, these rates are not affordable on a fixed income. While these residents can realize significant return on their investments, most, as they are long-term residents of the area, are unhappy with the prospects of moving from what they consider “their neighborhood.” Locating and moving the elderly on fixed incomes into another home is an unwelcome option that must be addressed. However, as the only apparent adverse consequence to brownfield redevelopment, the improvements in health, community, and economics greatly outweigh this one detraction (though this issue must be addressed by local policymakers). What we find from this evaluation of brownfield redevelopment is that, despite the myriad of actors associated with brownfield programs and policies, the local level performs admirably relative to program administration and policy implementation. Given amenable regulatory environments within which to operate, local governments have assumed much responsibility for program implementation, and have done so successfully in Charlotte. Local governments


generally embrace brownfield revitalization programs as mechanisms for urban redevelopment, but are seeing this program provide many other tangible outcomes in these affected neighborhoods. These programs provide opportunities for local officials to return blighted commercial or industrial sites to productive reuse, while improving the environment and creating opportunities to finally address equity issues for many depressed communities adjacent to these sites. As Eylon (2001: E2.2) observes, “[w]hen redeveloped, the former vacant industrial sites can remove ecological threats, bring a boost to a tired neighborhood, create new job opportunities, add income to the municipality's treasury. And bring a sense of pride to its citizens.” Charlotte’s program demonstrates that in doing so, redevelopment initiates economic growth, improves public health, and enriches communities, all of which improves quality of life for the entire community.


Table 1. The Status of Brownfield Projects in North Carolina (10/29/04)
Brownfield Agreement Status Completed (signed) Public Comment (draft stage) Active Eligible Site (filing agreement) Pending (process initiated) Inactive Eligible (effort suspended) Ineligible (site does not qualify) Total State of NC 50 3 56 10 6 7 132 City of Charlotte 22 3 10 1 1 2 39

Notes: Projects with finalized agreements (completed and public comment status) have signed documents, or are merely waiting the execution of signed documents, and mostly completed the agreement process. Active eligible projects (active eligible site status) are eligible according to statutory provisions; this may include assessment activities, data evaluation, or drafting the legal documents. Projects pending eligibility (pending status) are in the initial application stages of the process for determining compliance with statutory requirements; most projects in this stage eventually become active eligible projects, but require additional information before entering into full application/eligibility process. Other projects are no longer being pursued or are ineligible for further consideration as a brownfield site. (see NCDENR (2003) for complete discussion of application process and status of projects). Source: Minnich 2004; NCDENR 2003.

Table 2. Profile Ratings for Neighborhoods Adjacent to South End Neighborhood Statistical Area Profile City Brookhills Brookhills Wilmore Index 2000 2002 2000 2000 Population 840 1,828 505,178 917 Youth Population 243 499 119,645 289 Number of Housing Units 416 885 219,115 416 Area (acres) 152 419 150,093 152 Mdn Household Income $16,701 $24,504 $41,385 $20,039 Avg House Value $51,858 $134,200 Number of Organizations 1 1 n/a 1 Unemployment Index High Investment Value <$50,000
Source: City of Charlotte. 2002b and 2000. Charlotte Neighborhood Quality of Life Study. Notes: = not collected/not available. n/a=not applicable.

Wilmore 2002 2,073 610 864 419 $31,600 $70,641 1 High $2,161,623

City Index 2002 555,870 137,941 243,769 150,093 $50,109 $162,717 n/a


Table 3. Property Tax Incentive for Brownfield Redevelopment in NC Tax Incentive Year Percent of Tax Incentive Granted Year 1 90% Year 2 75% Year 3 50% Year 4 25% Year 5 10% Table 4. List of Brownfield Projects in the South End Area Project Name Camden Square Hamilton Property Dynatech Brown’s Solvent Archdale Mktplace S. Tryon Street Home Depot S. Blvd S. Blvd. MGP Site Rusak Property Table 5. Quality of Life Ratings for Neighborhoods Adjacent to South End Quality of Life Index: Dimensions of Index Index Rating Index Rating Index Rating and Wilmore Brookhills Brookhills Neighborhood 2000 2002 2000 Statistical Area Profile Overall Index Rating Social Dimension Crime Dimension Physical Dimension Economic Dimension Fragile Fragile Fragile Threatened Threatened Threatened Threatened Threatened Stable Fragile Fragile Fragile Fragile Threatened Threatened

Index Rating Wilmore 2002 Fragile Threatened Threatened Fragile Threatened

Source: City of Charlotte. 2002b and 2000. Charlotte Neighborhood Quality of Life Study. Notes: = not collected/not available. n/a=not applicable.


Table 6. Charlotte Neighborhood Quality of Life Items by Dimensions
Social Dimension • Percent of Persons over Age 64 • Average Kindergarten Score • Dropout Rate • Percent of Children Passing Competency Exams • Percent of Births to Adolescents • Youth Opportunity Index Physical Dimension • Appearance Index • Percent Substandard Housing • Percent Homeowners • Projected Infrastructure Improvement Costs • Percent of Persons with Access to Public Transportation • Percent of Persons with Access to Basic Retail • Pedestrian Friendliness Index Crime Dimension • • • • Violent Crime Rate Juvenile Arrest Rate Property Crime Rate Crime Hot Spots Economic Dimension • Percent of Persons Receiving Food Stamps • Percent Change in Income

Source: City of Charlotte Neighborhood Quality of Life Index. 2002: 4.


Table 7. South End Brownfield Sites: Property Values and Investments, 2001-2003 Cleanup Estimated Site Project 2002 Tax 2003 Tax Difference Parcel Private Costs Grants Name Value Value (2002-03) Size Investment (city) (sq ft) Camden Square $1,998,535 $3,183,418 59.29% 45,968 $34,000 $27,440 $15,000,000 Hamilton Property Dynatech Brown’s Solvent Archdale Mktplace S. Tryon Street Home Depot S. Blvd S. Blvd. MGP Site Rusak Property Median Mean $173,110 $284,740 $180,260 $2,390,570 $348,170 $173,530 $3,473,960 $68,220 $284,740 $1,010,344 $584,200 $316,500 $214,300 $4,183,570 $412,600 $213,700 $4,306,600 $89,100 $412,600 $1,500,425 237.47% 11.15% 18.88% 75.00% 18.51% 21.75% 23.97% 30.61% 23.97% 55.18% n/a 27,308 12,030 n/a 15,800 n/a 27,060 2,184 21,430 21,725 $30,000 $30,000 $20,000 n/a n/a $7,500 n/a n/a $30,000 $24,300 n/a $19,315 $62,013 n/a n/a $5,780 n/a n/a $23,377 $28,637 $50,000 $1,000,000 $1,000,000 $3,000,000 $5,500,000 $6,500,000 $35,000,000 n/a $4,250,000 $8,437,500

Source: Property values from Mecklenburg County Tax Office; Site grants from City of Charlotte Brownfield Program; Cleanup costs from State of NC BFA; Estimated private investment from personal interviews. Notes: n/a is not available. Site grants do not include relief granted through property tax incentive program. One (1) acre is 43,560 square feet.

Table 8. Results for Difference of Means Test for Brownfield Site Property Values Significance Mean Property Tax Value Year t test df (two-tailed test) Difference 1.263 9 .238 $6084152.00 2003 2001 2.422 8 .042 $887649.40


Table 9. Quality of Life Ratings for Neighborhoods Adjacent to South End Brookhills Wilmore Wilmore Brookhills Quality of Life Index Index Index City Index Index and Rating Rating Index Rating Rating Dimensions of Index 2002 2002 2000 2000 Overall Index Rating Social Dimension Pct Over Age 64 Avg Kindergarten Score Dropout Rate Pct Children Passing Competency Exams Pct Births to Adolescents Youth Oppty Index No. of Nhbd Organ. Crime Dimension Violent Crime Rate Juvenile Arrest Rate Property Crime Rates Crime Hot Spots Physical Dimension Appearance Index Pct Substandard Housing Pct Homeowners Infrastructure Improvement ($) Pct w/ Access to Transit Pct w/ Access to Retail Pedestrian Friendliness Economic Dimension Pct Chg Income Pct. W/ Food Stamps Fragile Fragile 10.7% 2.5 13.1% 29.2% 25.0% Medium 1 Fragile 3.4 0.4 2.5 0.5 Threatened High 36.4% 0.0% $0 100% 0.0% Medium Fragile Fragile 12.0% 2.2 10.5% 22.6% 23.7% High 1 Fragile 6.1 1.2 2.5 0.7 Threatened Low 2.5% 36.3% $0 99.7% 7.0% Low Threatened 24.9% 22.3% 65.0% 17.1% Low n/a Threatened Threatened 8.1% 2.7 3.7% 68.3% 14.3% High n/a Threatened 2.1 1.4 1.8 0.0 Stable Medium 0.0% 0.0% $0 100% 0.0% Medium Fragile 22.0% 51.1% Fragile

City Index


10.5% 2.6 8.3% 53.1% 7.6% n/a

Threatened 10.2% 8.7% 2.7 2.8 9.2% 6.4% 76.5% 15.2% High n/a Threatened 3.6 1.0 1.7 0.0 Fragile High 16.7% 37.7% $6,116,208 99.1% 8.0% Low 58.0% 18.6% Low 82.7% 6.7% n/a

1.0 1.0 1.0 n/a

1.0 1.0 1.0 n/a

n/a 1.6% 57.2%

n/a 1.7% 54.9%

20.6% 21.4%

26.0% 4.9%

Threatened 21.9% 5.6% 71.8% 62.7%

Source: City of Charlotte. 2002b and 2000. Charlotte Neighborhood Quality of Life Study. Notes: = not collected/not available. n/a=not applicable.


Table 10. South End Brownfield Sites: Environmental Disposition Project Hazardous Substances Name Soil Groundwater 2003 Contaminants Contaminants Rank/ Average Score Total (groundwater/soil) Points Camden Square
(from BFA; former mill) Groundwater Benzo(a)pyrene Benzo(b)fluoranthene Dibenzo (a,h)anthracene Arsenic Beryllium Groundwater Trichloroethene Tetrachloroethene Cis-1,2-Dichoroethene Benzene Ethylbenzene Toluene Isopropyl ether Methyl-t-butyl ether Isopropyl benzene n-Propyl benzene 1,3,5-Trimethylbenzene 1,2,4-Trimethybenzene sec-Butylbenzene Naphthalene Groundwater Arsenic Barium Cadmium Hexavalent, Chromium Chromium Lead Acetone 2-Butanone (MEK) Groundwater Arsenic Bromomethane 2-Butanone Chloroethane 2-Chloroethylvinyl ether 2-Hexanone 4-Methyl 2-penanone Vinyl acetate Vinyl chloride Groundwater Dichlorodifluoromethane Tetrachloroethene 9/1309 10/1265 15/1163 1/1663 38/1044 Soil Trichloroethene 1,2-dichloroethene Benzo(a)pyrene Chromium Lead Vinyl Chloride Soil Arsenic Barium Cadmium Chromium Lead Mercury Methylene Chloride Selenium Silver

2003 Rank/ Total Points
166/724 77/897 9/1309 76/907 2/1532 4/1385 1/1663 110/815 7/1319 76/907 2/1532 3/1507 80/889 147/782 218/612


Hamilton Property
(from BFA;pipe processing facility)

166/724 205/645 77/897 6/1356 99/834 68/952 390/393 349/412



(from BFA; former chrome plating facility)


1/1663 110/815 7/1319 17/1152 76/907 2/1532 187/695 214/623 1/1663 426/305 214/623 188/693 70/944 341/431 4/1385 405/376 205/645

Brown’s Solvent
(environmental consultant report; former specialty solvent facility)

Soil Arsenic Barium Cadmium Chromium Lead Mercury Chlorobenzene 1,4-dichlorobenzene Soil n-Butyl Alcohol N-Butyl Acetate Methanol Methyl Ethyl Ketone Methyl Iso-Butyl Ketone

1/1663 110/815 7/1319 76/907 2/1532 3/1507 108/815 164/731 668/15 473/219 431/295 274/533

672/212 Archdale Mktplace
(from BFA; former shopping center with dry cleaners and auto service)




S. Tryon Street
(from BFA; former service facilities, e.g., machinery, electrical, hydraulics, etc.)

Groundwater 1,1-Dichloroethene Benzene Chloroform 2-Methylnapthalene Napthalene

162/741 6/1356 159/750 78/897


936/0 Home Depot S. Blvd
(from BFA; former oilseed refinery and steel drum manufacturing facility.) Groundwater 1,2-Dichloroethene 1,3-Dichloropropene Benzene 2-Chlorophenol Chromium Lead Mecury Groundwater Chloroform Chromium Tetrachloroethene Trichloroethene 87/868 264/562 6/1356 219/611 76/907 2/1532 3/1507 11/1228 76/907 205/645 166/724 Soil Antimony Cadmium Manganese PCB-1254 Vanadium 230/603 7/1319 131/804 5/1373 203/649

1049/950 Rusak Property
(from BFA; former metal plating and chemical lab facility.)

Soil Nickel Hexavalent Chromium

51/1006 17/1152


Source: 2003 Priority List of Hazardous Substances, ATSDR, Division of Toxicology, Scientific Assessment Section. (US HHS, 2003). Notes: n/a=not available. =negative effect, or no score specified. S. Blvd. MGP Site omitted since BFA is incomplete, so site assessment information is unavailable. Average Score used as mean is most representative of highest values, which are critical given the hazards these substances introduce into the environment. The hazard potential calculation is: TOTAL SCORE (1,800 max. points) = NPL Frequency + Toxicity + Potential for Human Exposure (concentration points) + (exposure points).

Table 11. Pearson Correlation Matrix: Hazardous Substances, Investments, and Property Values City Property Variables Groundwater Soil Private Grants Values Contamination Contamination Investment (tax value) (est.) Groundwater Contamination Soil .48 Contamination p= .11 .11 Private .68 p=.40 Investment (est.) p=.03 .20 City .23 .52 p=.32 Grants p=.29 p=.09 -.03 -.35 Property -.49 -.52 p=.48 p=.20 Values p=.11 p=.10
Notes: bold notes relationships of statistical significance. N=8; one-tailed test. South Blvd. MGP Site omitted since BFA is incomplete, so site assessment information is unavailable.


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