Report: Brownfield redevelopment leads to more jobs, increased tax revenue
The redevelopment of brownfields — abandoned or underused properties where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by either real or perceived environmental contamination — can create jobs and increase tax revenue, according to a report released Nov. 9 by the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM). The report, “Recycling America’s Land: A National Report on Brownfields Redevelopment (1993-2010),” found that brownfield projects created around 161,880 jobs, and generated $309 million in tax revenue for 50 cities since 1993.
Brownfield redevelopment can be challenging, primarily because of the lack of public and private sector resources that are necessary to redevelop the properties back into productive use, according to the report. The report also found that the number of brownfield sites has decreased in many cities, which is an indication of successful redevelopment projects, according to USCM. The vast majority of surveyed cities (84 percent) reported that they have been successful in redeveloping brownfield sites over the past 17 years — with 65 saying they were able to redevelop 1,010 sites comprising 7,210 acres since 1993. Additionally, 70 cities report that 906 sites totaling 4,683 acres are currently being redeveloped.
The progress is encouraging, said Elizabeth, N.J., Mayor J. Christian Bollwage, chairperson of USCM’s Brownfields Task Force. “Jobs have been created, tax revenues have been generated, and the environment has been improved,” Bollwage said in a statement. “However, we still have thousands of additional properties that need to be cleaned up and redeveloped.”
Other highlights of the survey findings include:
- 58 cities estimated if their brownfields were redeveloped, potential revenue could range from $872 million to $1.3 billion annually.
- In 1993, 67 cities estimated that they had a total of 11,824 brownfield sites.
- In 2010, 75 cities estimated that they had a total of 29,624 brownfield sites, consuming 45,437 acres of land.
- In 1993, the time it took to redevelop a brownfield site was one year to indefinite; while in 2010, the timeframe was from six months to 12 years.
- The top four programs that were helpful in redeveloping brownfields in the surveyed cities were EPA assessment funding, private sector investment, EPA Clean-Up funds, and state programs, such as the Voluntary Clean-Up programs