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  • 16 Apr 2018 10:33 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Steve Dwyer

    With all its environmental complexities, a former textile mill is a tricky re-development play, for starters. Having the wherewithal to retain historic aspects of the property is yet another challenge. 

    But tackling these two challenges and wringing results is exactly what’s taking shape in Lawrence, Mass. MassHousing recently committed about $17 million in financing to assist an affiliate of Trinity Financial to create an affordable housing community. 

    The project will be built on four adjacent land parcels within the city’s 34-acre Arlington Mills Smart Growth Overlay District, containing two interconnected mill buildings with 100 units, a small, former incinerator building with two units, a water pump house and a parking lot.

    Affordable housing end use a trend whose time has come, and a lot of the visioning can be owed to other advocates of an idea. In this case, New York City is renowned to be a forerunner of the affordable housing trendline. 

    In New York City, there are several case examples, and of them is The Hour Apartment House III in Queens, a 25,000-square-foot, sustainably designed building that serves a dual purpose: It serves as headquarters for the non-profit Hour Children and provides much-need affordable housing to formerly incarcerated mothers and their children.  

    Proof is in the pudding as The Hour Apartment House III is working out so well that it garnered a 2015 Big Apple Brownfield Award. 

    In Lawrence, Mass., Trinity Financial is transforming the former Van Brodie Mill into 102 units of mixed-income housing within a smart growth district. The adaptive-reuse project will preserve the historic mill, while remediating a brownfield site. The completed project will contain eight studio apartments, 25 one-, 56 two-, and 13 three-bedroom apartments.

    Van Brodie Mill, which originally manufactured yarn for wool and flannel, dates back to 1919 but by the 1950s the company shut down, where it was parlayed into manufacturing packaged breakfast cereals and rations for the military.

    The former mill is expected to “be an important new housing resource for working families in Lawrence,” said Tom Lyons, MassHousing’s active executive director. “This transformational project will put a former brownfield back into productive use, while advancing regional economic development and enabling families to live affordably and prosper in greater Lawrence.”

    The new apartments will serve residents with a broad range of incomes. Of the 102 units, 16 will be for very low-income households earning at or below 30% of the area median income (AMI), 67 will be for low-income households earning at or below 60% of the AMI, and 19 will be dedicated for workforce housing for households earning between 61 and 80% of the AMI. The AMI for Lawrence and the surrounding area is $87,600 for a family of four.

    MassHousing is supporting the redevelopment by providing more than $17 million in affordable housing funding, including a $14 million conduit bridge loan, $1.2 million in permanent financing, and $1.9 million in workforce housing funds.

    It’s all motivated by a plan to infuse new life into a historically significant asset while creating much-needed mixed-income housing in Lawrence, deemed a Gateway City, or midsize urban centers that anchor regional economies around the state. 

    This redevelopment advances the Mass. state administration’s goal of creating up to 1,000 new workforce housing units affordable to middle-income households through MassHousing’s $100 million Workforce Housing Initiative. 

    Since the inception of the initiative in 2016, MassHousing has committed or closed workforce housing financing totaling $49.7 million, to 23 projects, located in 13 cities and towns. To date, the Workforce Housing Initiative has advanced the development of 2,111 housing units across a range of incomes, including 538 workforce housing units.

    The organization has financed or administers the subsidy contract for 16 rental communities in Lawrence, totaling 1,965 housing units and an original loan amount of $103 million. The agency has also provided $120.5 million in financing to 1,341 Lawrence homebuyers or homeowners.

    The project is entirely in line with what Lawrence, Mass. needs to advance from a civic growth standpoint, which is scaling up on affordable housing end use, perhaps with more initiatives to come. Looking for past shining examples of success is one way to move the needle in the right direction. One way or another, MassHousing is exhibiting this requisite vision.

  • 13 Apr 2018 11:53 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Thomas J. Prohaska, Buffalo News (NY)

    The Town of Niagara plans to acquire a former tire store and gas station on Military Road and clean up environmental contamination before putting the property on the market for commercial reuse.

    The property at 4435 Military Road, long owned by Lewiston attorney Paul A. Grenga, is currently on the Niagara County tax foreclosure list, after many years in which the county had resisted foreclosing on brownfields. However, County Treasurer Kyle R. Andrews said the town is expected to take over the site.

    "It's in a very visible location along Military Road, so we can have high reuse potential," said Amy E. Fisk, president of the Niagara County Brownfield Development Corp., which granted the town $325,000 for the cleanup Tuesday.

    For the entire article, see


  • 13 Apr 2018 11:51 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Henry Schwan, Concord Journal (MA)

    Concord is maneuvering to take control of the future development of a contaminated site in West Concord.

    Town Manager Chris Whelan told the Select Board March 19 he would draft a charge for a short-term planning committee to study possible future uses for 2229 Main St.

    The move comes as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offered its services to Concord to help with planning future uses on the site. As part of the arrangement, environmental consultant SKEO Solutions will work with Concord and the EPA to explore options for the 46-acre parcel.

    $25,000 request

    An article at next month’s Town Meeting will ask voters to support $25,000 to pay for a redevelopment plan.

    For the entire article, see


  • 13 Apr 2018 11:50 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Elizabeth McGowan, Energy News Network

    A 2.2-megawatt solar array on a shuttered municipal solid waste landfill in Lexington, Massachusetts, is not particularly remarkable on its own.

    But this, combined with 100 or so other similar brownfield projects in Massachusetts, make the state a national leader in converting formerly contaminated sites to clean energy production.

    Though a few sites feature wind turbines, photovoltaic panels dominate. And advocates credit the state’s clean energy policies as well as the abundance of suitable sites.

    Massachusetts accounts for roughly 40 percent of the 253 renewable energy installations identified thus far by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative — or at least 258 of the 1,398 total megawatts brought online through October. The agency’s data base stretches back to 1997.

    For the entire article, see


  • 02 Apr 2018 11:24 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Andrew Maykuth, Philadelphia Inquirer

    Campbell Soup Co. said it has completed installation of a 4.4-megawatt solar energy system at its 38-acre Camden headquarters, including panels mounted to rooftops, on a reclaimed brownfield, and on canopies built over employee parking lots.

    The food company says the solar project, which was announced last May, will generate about 5 million kilowatt hours a year, or about 20 percent of the campus’ annual energy demand. Under terms of a 20-year power purchase agreement, Campbell will pay a fixed rate that is currently “well below” its current power costs.

    The project was developed by BNB Renewable Energy Holdings using systems developed by SunPower Corp. BNB and financial company Orix USA will own the system, which is being financed through Public Service Electric & Gas Co.’s solar loan program.

    For the entire article, see


  • 22 Mar 2018 6:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Steve Dwyer

    State lawmakers regularly face tough fiscal decisions with their annual budgets—where to generate revenue and where to trim expenses.  

    With much at stake impacting economic, environmental and social prosperity in New York State, The Brownfield Coalition of the Northeast appealedto New York state Legislators to eliminate a 2018-19 Executive Budget proposal to defer tax credit payments currently available under the Brownfield Cleanup Program.

    BCONE has deep concerns about how the proposal will impact its New York-based members and all other members who conduct business in the state. More broadly, the budget proposal could serve as a dangerous precursor to motivate other state legislatures in BCONE’s network to consider similar budget actions. 

    BCONE members have worked diligently to create a beneficial working mechanism for brownfield project advancement in the State of New York. The current budget proposal would erase all the hard work that has been performed that now benefits the State—demonstrated by the 2015 amendments to the BCP that were careful and arduously-negotiated as a compromise among the Executive Branch, both houses of the Legislature, developers and the environmental community.

    BCONE,  as well as The New York City Brownfield Partnership and the Environmental and Energy Law Section of the New York State Bar Association (EELS) all grasp the negative impacts of tax payments deferral. 

    Deferring tax credit payments that regularly flow to urban redevelopment/brownfields stakeholders potentially means putting redevelopment projects in New York at risk of completion. Payments represent the principal incentive and compensation drivers for risks associated with the investigation, remediation and redevelopment of polluted sites that would otherwise remain vacant and underutilized. 

    View it using this lens: Tax credit funding streams keep projects humming to ribbon cutting and new-site activation. Once up and running, redevelopments located in the urban infill become tax-revenue vehicles in their own right—not to mention job creation engines and socially-impacted change-makers, as local residents and city/state visitors typically gravitate to new residential, commercial and mixed-use redevelopments. 

    Investor funding and construction financing depend on the amount and the timing of them. A tax credit deferral would only disrupt funding sources or result in the breach of financing-related obligations. The result: Severe delays to ongoing projects and, in some cases, causing them to fail.

    As state budgets are crafted, many hard decisions must be made. One easy decision is to keep tax credit payments flowing to stakeholders under the Brownfield Cleanup Program in the State of New York. 

    The Northeast has long been viewed as a leader in creating dynamic, creative incentive programs to foster brownfield redevelopments along the urban infill. Our organization certainly wants to keep in place this carefully built reputation as a visionary region for redevelopments. The Brownfield Coalition of the Northeast strongly recommends that deferral of BCP tax credit payments, as proposed in the Executive Budget, be eliminated as the State’s 2018-19 budget is finalized.

  • 20 Mar 2018 11:55 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Heather Bellow, Berkshire Eagle (MA)

    Next spring, the entire Railroad Street area will likely get a good makeover. 

    And town officials know exactly how to pay for it. They'll move some grant money around - from one side of Main Street to the other. 

    Officials are proposing that about $1 million from a MassWorks grant intended for utility work around a brownfield on Bridge Street be shifted to repave and widen the sidewalks all the way up and around Railroad Street, as well as to repave the Railroad Street and Triplex parking lots.

    The work would continue from the top of Railroad and down Elm Street, begin in early spring of 2019, and move quickly, said Town Planner Christopher Remold.

    For the entire article, see


  • 13 Mar 2018 11:04 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Steve Dwyer 

    What does one make of President Trump's infrastructure proposal, a budgetary plan announced last month with mixed messages galore?

    The President announced a sweeping plan that proposes to rewrite long prevailing funding options for cleaning up brownfields and Superfund sites.  That part sounds good on paper for a funding mechanism that needs re-writing. 

    Unveiled the middle of February, the proposal seeks new avenues for providing federal funding for contaminated site cleanup, potentially speeding progress toward redeveloping sites. At the same time, the budget plan would slash traditional funding mechanisms for brownfields and integrate a legislative mechanism for ongoing approvals. Does anyone here need to inject additional bureaucracy into the mix? 

    Slashing traditional funding sounds tremendously ominous, but, indeed, the Trump proposal would actually trim the annual EPA budget earmarked for contaminated sites-this is a budget already regarded as thread-bare, based on the supply of brownfields comprising the U.S. portfolio.   

    As one brownfield practitioner put it, the federal funding for brownfield sites inventory is really, currently "a drop in the bucket" to support what's needed to accelerate developments to their full extent. The federal funding would be scaled back even more from an already-austere level. 

    Here are some specific details: Trump's proposed fiscal 2019 budget would cut the budget to $16 million. In fiscal year 2017, the EPA's Brownfields Program received about $25 million from Congress.

    The budget request would maintain Superfund outlays at about $1.1 billion for fiscal 2019, which does not do a typical brownfield any good. 

    The proposal expands the types of projects eligible for EPA's brownfields grant funding, allowing Superfund sites or parts of those sites access to that money. So in that subtext, Superfund sites would be the beneficiaries of capital infusions at the expense of brownfields (unless you consider Superfund sites to be the ultimate brownfield sites).

    More specifically, Superfund and brownfield sites would gain access to financing under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) lending program to address contamination to water resources.

    The EPA also expects to receive about $10 billion in a new $50 billion Rural Infrastructure Program Trump proposes, which would provide grants for brownfield sites.

    The scale of overall brownfield funding doesn't match need. A potential silver lining is that a bipartisan-supported bill in the House crafted late last year would reauthorize EPA's brownfields grant program, requesting $200 million for annually. This bill passed the House in December but a Senate vote had not yet been scheduled.

    This proposal would intensify the role of Congress in a more ongoing basis as the proposal would create new loan and grant programs but require legislative action in doing so. One potential silver lining of increased legislative actions is the fact that when it comes to brownfields, bi-partisan cooperation has long been the norm. 

    Here's hoping that past is prologue. 

    Meantime, John O'Grady, president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 704, which represents EPA employees, is unsure the president's infrastructure reform would help the Superfund and brownfield programs.

    "There's no magic bullet here," O'Grady told Bloomberg Environment. "It's kind of like smoke and mirrors."

    Dan French, chief executive officer of Brownfield Listings, said new sources of federal funding will boost developers' demand for brownfields.

    "Additional public capital is particularly helpful because of the way the brownfield market is bottlenecked, wherein deals don't initiate because there's too much uncertainty or risk for anyone in the private sector to even study the project in the first place," he told Bloomberg Environment.

  • 13 Mar 2018 10:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Heather Bellow, Berkshire Eagle (MA)

    Next spring, the entire Railroad Street area will likely get a good makeover. 

    And town officials know exactly how to pay for it. They'll move some grant money around - from one side of Main Street to the other. 

    Officials are proposing that about $1 million from a MassWorks grant intended for utility work around a brownfield on Bridge Street be shifted to repave and widen the sidewalks all the way up and around Railroad Street, as well as to repave the Railroad Street and Triplex parking lots.

    The work would continue from the top of Railroad and down Elm Street, begin in early spring of 2019, and move quickly, said Town Planner Christopher Remold.

    For the entire article, see


  • 05 Mar 2018 10:19 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Steve Dwyer

    The trend is becoming ubiquitous: larger-scale brownfield conversions into technology or innovation centers. The examples are several. A couple months ago we reported on Brown University, Cranston, R.I., poised to reshape a massive, century-old power station that sat vacant on the Providence River along its campus. 

    That end-use envisions the establishment of an innovation center-all part of creating "innovation districts" for driving research and development.  Now comes word that Pennsylvania is prepared to earmark $15 million in tax credits to transform a former steel mill in the Pittsburgh metro area into a technology hub, as reported in late December in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

    The announcement to allocate tax credits by PA Gov. Tom Wolf to expedite construction at Hazelwood Green, which is the site of a massive abandoned steel mill, culminates the efforts of a coalition of nonprofits eager to transform the footprint into a bustling corporate hub for research and technology.

    This project has great potential for revitalizing an unused brownfield site and bringing jobs and additional high-tech employers to Hazelwood. The coalition is "excited about the business synergies that could be created here to benefit the local community and the entire region." 

    Owned by three prominent Pittsburgh foundations since 2002, the 178-acre property along the Monogahela River formerly known as Almono is slated for redevelopment as a green high-tech center with space for housing, offices and recreation. The property is jointly owned by the Richard King Mellon, Benedum Foundations and The Heinz Endowments.

    The Commonwealth Cornerstone Group's New Markets Tax Credit funding ensures that the first of three office buildings planned at Pittsburgh's last big brownfield can begin construction early this year and be ready for occupants by spring 2019, Donald Smith, president of Regional Industrial Development Corp. (RIDC), a nonprofit real estate developer, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

    It will be interesting to watch the project take shape during this calendar year, where the first building is estimated to cost $46 million. Carnegie Mellon University's (CMU) Advanced Robotics Manufacturing (ARM) Institute is slated to be the modern Mill 19's first tenant.

    One mission statement championed with large-scale efforts like this one is: "past is prologue." 

    Like so many other redevelopers have done in the past with similar projects, the Hazelwood sponsors are striving to emphasize the best of Pittsburgh's past, demonstrated by its rich steel-mill heritage, and meld that with the best of its future-that is, the technology expertise that CMU and the other companies will use as their cornerstone.  

    Under a 10-year lease with renewal options, the ARM Institute and Manufacturing Futures Initiative will take up two floors of a 94,000-square-foot building, the first of three set to be built within the 264,000-square-foot steel superstructure steel frame of the old mill -a concept described as "building within a building."

    The vision behind Hazelwood Green has been more than 15 years in the making. In addition to building residences and more office space for tech-minded companies, plans for Hazelwood Green include a 2.5-acre public space and constructing a new street running the length of the property. 

    Smith said getting involved in Hazelwood Green made perfect sense for RIDC, which has access to subsidies that for-profit entities don't and specializes in financing projects that benefit the public.

    In total, RIDC has received about $43 million combined in local, state and corporate tax credits toward the first phase of the Mill 19 project, including funding from Pittsburgh's Urban Redevelopment Authority, PNC Bank and Telesis. After financing and administrative costs, the contribution translates into a net benefit of about $7 million toward the $46 million project, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

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