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Colleen P Cahill Writing Sample Brownfields Redevelopment Select Pages


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Colleen P Cahill Writing Sample Brownfields Redevelopment Select Pages

  1. 1. Running head: BROWNFIELDS REDEVELOPMENT: A CASE STUDY 1 Brownfields Redevelopment: A Case Study of Baltimore City, Maryland Colleen Cahill University of South Florida EVR 6937 August 2, 2011 Dr. Ambe Njoh
  2. 2. BROWNFIELDS REDEVELOPMENT: A CASE STUDY 2 AbstractThis paper looks at the question of why cities may choose to utilize brownfields redevelopment,what some of the perceived barriers to this redevelopment are and how this strategy has beenused in one older industrial city in Maryland, Baltimore City. While not intending to be anexhaustive look at the issues behind brownfields redevelopment, the paper touches on severalcontributing factors identified in the literature and coinciding with Baltimore’s goals, attemptingto discern how Baltimore has handled these factors in its redevelopment efforts. The conclusionis that though problems have arisen, Baltimore has to some extent achieved its goals of jobcreation, improvement of health and the environment, urban revitalization, increasing the taxbase, and curbing urban sprawl.
  3. 3. BROWNFIELDS REDEVELOPMENT: A CASE STUDY 3 Brownfields Redevelopment: A Case Study of Baltimore City, Maryland Brownfields redevelopment has become a useful tool for cities to use in theirredevelopment strategies. This paper looks at the question of why cities may choose to utilizebrownfields redevelopment, what some of the perceived barriers to this redevelopment are andhow this strategy has been used in one older industrial city in Maryland, Baltimore City. Whilenot intending to be an exhaustive look at the issues behind brownfields redevelopment, the papertouches on several contributing factors identified in the literature and coinciding withBaltimore’s goals, attempting to discern how Baltimore has handled these factors in itsredevelopment efforts. Real property of which the reuse, expansion or redevelopment of is complicated by thepresence or possibility of contamination, hazardous substances or pollutants is defined by theUnited States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be a brownfield site (EPA, 2009a).These sites vary from being large multi-hundred acre sites housing the likes of industrialcomplexes to small parcels housing former gas stations or dry-cleaning facilities (Ross & Leigh,2000). Just as the size of the sites greatly vary, so can the extent of the contamination, makingany efforts at revitalization site specific. There are many reasons why brownfields exist, with specific issues contributing to anygiven site’s status as such. Several common causes include: “market forces, including shiftstoward more service-based operations, movement of industrialized operations to other regions orcountries, individual bad business decisions, information asymmetry; public policies, such asincreased environmental regulations, incentives to develop in other areas, impacts fromtransportation or other infrastructure decisions; and other societal or cultural factors, includingdemographic shifts or movement of workforce populations” (Morgan & Brown, 2002, p. 398)
  4. 4. BROWNFIELDS REDEVELOPMENT: A CASE STUDY 4The overall trend away from heavy industry has left many older industrial areas underutilized orabandoned. Blight with an associated increase in crime and an economic decline of theneighborhoods tends to pervade adjacent areas (Deason, Sherk, & Carroll, 2001; Simons,Winson-Geideman, & Pendergrass, 2002). Baltimore was just such a city with its economy based on heavy industry in the late 19thand early 20th centurys. Many of the city’s industrial sites were located in and near denselypopulated residential neighborhoods that provided workers for the nearby factories. The declineof the city’s industrial base and a shift towards a more service-based economy has left Baltimorewith large tracts of abandoned and underused properties in the midst of residentialneighborhoods and, as a port city, along its waterfront. The city has identified more than 1,000potential brownfield sites occupying over 2,400 acres within its boundaries. Communitydisinvestment has occurred as the city’s population has declined (City of Baltimore, revised2009; EPA, 2009a). From 2000 to 2010, the state’s population grew by 9 percent (2010 Census,2010), while the city’s population declined by 3.8 percent (City of Baltimore Department ofPlanning, 2010). As of 2009, 20.1 percent of its residents live below the poverty level (U.S.Census Bureau, 2010) and the June 2011 unemployment rate is at 11 percent (MarylandDepartment of Labor, Licensing and Regulation). The brownfield sites are seen as contributing to a much larger economic decline of citiesas population and businesses decrease, but it is important to note they are not the sole source ofthe decline. As such, the decision to redevelope brownfields is just one component in an overallplan for urban economic development (Deason, Sherk, & Carroll, 2001). Cities like Baltimorehave virtually no significant tracts of land zoned for commercial or industrial use that are notabandoned and potentially contaminated or not currently occupied by an active business.
  5. 5. BROWNFIELDS REDEVELOPMENT: A CASE STUDY 5Developers wishing to build in the city, either have to wait for a property to become vacant, orneed to build on a cleaned-up brownfield site (English, 2004). Recognizing this, Baltimore hasmade the adaptive reuse of brownfields an objective in its Comprehensive Economic Program(CEP). The CEP has been closely aligned with the Comprehensive Master Plan (CMP) making akey piece of its overall economic development strategy the financing and assembling of land foremployers and the training of the City’s workforce (City of Baltimore, revised 2009). Brownfieldrevitalization and its benefits is then used in its marketing to potential companies (English,2004). The expected benefits of redeveloping a brownfield site as indicated in the literature runalong common themes. Although originally pursued by the EPA for purely health reasons, theagency now recognizes economic development as a legitimate reason to redevelop a brownfieldsite (Howland, 2007). This enables redevelopment in general to be promoted as a means toeconomic revitalization as well as better health (Reyes, Williams, & McCumiskey, 2002). Morespecific benefits indicated include urban revitalization, an increase in the tax base, a reduction ofurban blight, the preservation of greenfields in the periphery of a city, job creation for residentsand environmental health and safety protection (De Sousa, 2005; Simons, Winson-Geideman, &Pendergrass, 2002). In 1998, Baltimore stated similar goals as an EPA Showcase Community:“increase employment opportunities in locations accessible to lower-income populations; cleanup long-standing potential threats to public health and the environment; protect the environment,especially the Chesapeake Bay watershed; better accommodate employment-generating growthin already developed areas, thereby taking advantage of previously built infrastructure; developmore efficient land use patterns, thus promoting non-“sprawl” development patterns; andincrease revenue for the city by rebuilding its tax base.” (EPA, 2010, p. 2)
  6. 6. BROWNFIELDS REDEVELOPMENT: A CASE STUDY 14 Increased funding for public services such as education and health care is what enlargingthe tax base enables (Deason, Sherk, & Carroll, 2001). Tax revenues undermined bydeindustrialization and decentralization resulted in the declining quality of public services andinfrastructure, and increasing tax burdens for central city dwellers (Byun & Esparza, 2005). Thetoll in terms of poverty and attendant social problems (Yount, 1997) have been pointed outpreviously. The resultant blight, especially around brownfield sites, continues the cycle. Lost tax revenues due to the presence of brownfields could range from between $121million and $386 million per year (Deason, Sherk, & Carroll, 2001) for a city. Idle sites meanthe absence of jobs and their associated wages. Existing infrastructure goes unused, essentiallywasting even more dollars (Villavaso, Sinel, & Dauterive, 2002). Despite the many issues andbarriers surrounding brownfields redevelopment, it provides a process to reclaim otherwiseunproductive industrial land (English, 2004). There are those who argue the most contaminatedsites should be cleaned first for environmental or social justice reasons. Others see success in anincrease in the tax base, making a city better able to meet the needs of its citizens and perhapsprovide additional financial incentives for redeveloping the more contaminated sites. With the standard of success set by the return of the property to the tax roles, Baltimorehas had success with the Highland Marine Terminal (HMT) and Crown, Cork and Seal (CCS)projects. With only a modest public subsidy, HMT was returned to a profitable operation within3 years of land purchase. CCS required no public subsidy and was completed in about a year(Howland, 2003). The approval process for their cleanup plans was aided by their location a fewblocks away from residential areas as well as retention of their industrial use. The strong marketfor the end use of port-related warehouse space, made their return to profitable operation evenmore favorable.
  7. 7. BROWNFIELDS REDEVELOPMENT: A CASE STUDY 15 Contrasted to these two “successful” projects, is the aforementioned Camden Crossingproject. The shift from industrial to residential use and the extended time frame added risk andcost to the project. The location within an existing residential neighborhood added further layersof requirements, as did the existence of a higher level of contamination than at the HMT or CCSsites. Finally, weak demand for the middle-income housing that was planned (Howland, 2003)has led to a largely vacant site. Urban Sprawl Since 1996, Baltimore has completed, despite problems at times, over 40 brownfieldsprojects and seen more than $500 million in new investment (BDC, 2010). This new investmentshows progress in their goal of promoting non-“sprawl” development patterns. Some argue thepolicies regarding brownfield redevelopment are necessary to offset the biases towardsgreenfield development that lead to urban sprawl (Allardice, Mattoon, & Testa, 1995). Manyfactors lead to this bias, including lower development costs (Allardice, Mattoon, & Testa, 1995),lower taxes outside of the city (CEDS, 2008), cheap open land outside of the city, improvedtransportation, and the tendency towards suburbanization (Neuman, 2005). Studies showhowever that compact development is less costly than sprawl for both capital and operatingcosts, the greatest savings being in land consumed and infrastructure like water, sewer and roadfacilities (Neuman, 2005). The tendency towards sprawl in the form of the departure of the middle class and thedecentralization of economic activity (Nelson, Burby, Feser, Dawkins, Malizia, & Quercia,2004) has been apparent in and around US cities since World War II. Planning initiatives andtools may have reinforced these tendencies through concepts such as defensive dispersal inresponse to the nuclear threat (Dudley, 2001) and single-use zoning (Neuman, 2005). Growth
  8. 8. BROWNFIELDS REDEVELOPMENT: A CASE STUDY 16controls put in place in the suburbs to handle their rapid growth, may have caused even moresuburbanization by causing the growth to move to new areas (Byun & Esparza, 2005). In themeantime, blight crept in to the central cities, and the associated social ills increased, robbingcities of their vitality (Nelson, Burby, Feser, Dawkins, Malizia, & Quercia, 2004). Smartgrowthinitiatives, of which brownfields redevelopment is a tool, are being implemented in many states,attempting to refocus the growth, preserve farmland, reduce automobile use, impove transitaccessibility, support energy conservation, and minimize tax burdens (Kim, 2011). One of the advantages of brownfield sites is that they often have infrastructure in placethat can be utilized or adapted to fit new uses (Allardice, Mattoon, & Testa, 1995). As adesignated Priority Funding Area (PFA) by the Maryland Department of Housing andCommunity Development (MDHCD), Baltimore has been recognized as having theinfrastructure, transit and school capacity for a significant increase in residents (CEDS, 2008).Another advantage is that demand for potentially contaminating industrial new uses on pristineland around Baltimore may have been reduced by as many as 1,238 to 6,444 acres (Guignet &Alberini, 2010) by reclaiming land with fewer land-consuming provisions within the city. With no greenfield sites in Baltimore (English, 2004), the city must look toredevelopment of brownfields to attract new business, but it faced a major challenge in terms ofzoning and land use. With a zoning code dating back to the 1970s, the city found it inadequatelyallowed for the type of compact growth it wished to implement and the requirements it isobligated to meet under Maryland’s growth plan. Using grant money from the EPA, the city istrying to remove this barrier by incorporating smart growth strategies into its comprehensivemaster plan and revised comprehensive zoning effort (EPA, 2011).
  9. 9. BROWNFIELDS REDEVELOPMENT: A CASE STUDY 17 Conclusion With an estimated 2,500 acres of brownfield properties in the City (BDC, 2010),Baltimore is moving forward with its plans to attract new business to the city by redevelopingthese sites. To some extent, Baltimore has achieved its goals of job creation, improvement ofhealth and the environment, urban revitalization, increasing the tax base, and curbing urbansprawl. Critics will point to the shortfalls of all of these objectives. Are new jobs being createdor are they relocated from another area? Are new jobs going to community members? Is the goalof economic development far outweighing the goal of improving health and the environment?Have communities been involved sufficiently in the development to encourage improvement inadjacent neighborhoods? Are the neighborhoods in the worst need of revitalization being sidestepped in favor of less desparate areas and less toxic sites? Is the tendency for growth to spreadoutward from the city being curbed enough to save pristine lands from development? Are betterservices being provided for city residents with the increased tax base? These are just some of themany questions that come to mind after just scratching the surface of this issue. Based on the standards that exist presently, Baltimore can point to successes, asnumerous projects have been recognized on a national level. There have been stumbling blocksas well, but the city sees itself as a little bit ahead of the game relative to other industrial cities(Deason, Sherk, & Carroll, 2001). The trend since the 1980s, of the lessons learned beingincorporated at the Federal, State and Local levels, is encouraging. If this trend continues, and asexperience and expertise in the field grows, costs should be reduced, fewer incentives required,and the market will be able to handle the reclamation of more of these properties making health,environmental and social justice goals more easily achievable. The long term goal would be toreclaim all of these potentially toxic sites and prevent the formation of brownfields in the future.
  10. 10. BROWNFIELDS REDEVELOPMENT: A CASE STUDY 18 References2010 Census. (2010). Resident Population Data: Population Change. Retrieved August 1, 2011, from 2010 Census:, D. R., Mattoon, R. H., & Testa, W. A. (1995, May). Brownfield redevelopment and urban economies. Chicago Fed Letter (93).Avila, E., & Rose, M. H. (2009). Race, Culture, Politics, and Urban Renewal: An Introduction. Journal of Urban History , 35 (3), 335-347. doi: 10.1177/0096144208330393.BDC. (2010, May 5). Baltimore Brownfields Initiative. Retrieved July 29, 2011, from Baltimore Development Corporation:, E. (2002). City of Hopewell, Virginia -- learning to deal with its industrial legacy. In C. Brebbia, D. Almorza, & H. Klapperich (Eds.), Brownfield Sites (pp. 57-66). WIT Press.Byun, P., & Esparza, A. X. (2005). A Revisionist Model of Suburbanization and Sprawl: The Role of Political Fragmentation, Growth Control, and Spillovers. Journal of Planning Education and Research , 24 (3), 252-264. doi: 10.1177/0739456X04272252.City of Baltimore. (revised 2009). City of Baltimore Comprehensive Master Plan 2007-2012. Baltimore City.City of Baltimore Department of Planning. (2010). 2010 Census: National Overview & Baltimore: 2000 to 2010 Changes. Retrieved July 10, 2011, from Planning/2010 Census: Census.aspxComprehensive Economic Development Strategy. (2008). Baltimore City.