Revitalizing contaminated property for reuse.
Affected by years of use in a less environmentally sensitive era, many prime properties require cleanup and reclamation before they can be developed. To clean up these properties, the Washington State Department of Commerce, King County/Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma and the Department of Ecology have created the Brownfields Coalition. The coalition offers property owners low interest loans that can be used to assess and clean up sites.
The coalition works with investors and developers to get a good idea of what a cleanup will entail, including its potential costs. It also links loan recipients to other Brownfields programs and streamlines the process for cleaning a site up and redeveloping it by coordinating the efforts of federal, state and local agencies.
The Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund is designed for commercial and industrial brownfield properties that have been idled, are underutilized or have been abandoned because of the threat of real or perceived contamination. Low interest loans from the fund can be used to assess properties and initiate the cleanup process.
The eligibility of a site is based on many factors, including the urgency of the project, the threat of contamination and the timeframe for cleaning the site up. To be eligible for a loan, the applicant can’t be the one that caused the contamination, the site must have some near-term economic viability, it must result in net job creation or retention and it has to improve the existing conditions of the environment.
A Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund loan can also be used for prevention, abatement or removal of hazardous substances or contaminants that are threats to public safety, drinking water or sensitive ecosystems. Your partner in the Brownfields Coalition can help you get a better idea of whether or not your site will qualify for a loan.
Following is a brief overview of the review and loan process:
Consider the possibilities. First, what do you want to do with the land? You may want to sell it, but it needs to be cleaned up before you can put it on the market. Or you may have a great development in mind for the property, but in its current state it's unusable.
Determine your eligibility. Funding and technical assistance are available to those who qualify, but determining your eligibility is both critical and tricky. Your property and you as the borrower must meet certain guidelines and eligibility requirements.
Apply for funding. Your next step is to find the money to make this redevelopment a reality. The Brownfields Coalition funds assessment and cleanup primarily through their revolving loan fund, but there are other funding sources as well.
Assess the cleanup needed. Assessing the type and severity of the contamination is important. You might think you are dealing with a straightforward cleanup, but surprises are the norm when it comes to brownfield properties. Knowing what you have upfront speeds up the often complex process.
Get the community involved. Local communities have a vested economic and social interest in the redevelopment of these properties and government statutes require you to involve the local community. You will need an open process and opportunities for public involvement.
Cleanup. Time for the dirty work. The Brownfields Coalition provides funding for cleanup through the BRLF. The Department of Ecology offers technical assistance for assessments and cleanups. The department can also provide you with a “no further action” letter so you can show lenders that you have dealt with the contamination.
Take advantage of the resources. Tackling a brownfield is a huge challenge, but the Brownfields Coalition is here to help make your redevelopment a reality.