Brownfields are usually concentrated in urban areas, but they can really be anywhere. They are typically abandoned or underutilized commercial or industrial sites, such as manufacturing facilities, warehouses, gas stations, machine shops, and dry cleaning facilities, but they can even include residential properties where, at some point, hazardous substances might have been used.

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Maybe.  Ask yourself this:  Is my land or property idle, vacant, or less productive than it ought to be? Are there concerns about environmental contamination contributing to that problem?

If you answered yes to both questions, then you might own a brownfield.

Many brownfield sites are located in unattractive, economically depressed parts of a neighborhood. Cleanup and redevelopment of these sites encourages higher property values and creates jobs, in addition to creating a safer, cleaner, healthier space to house businesses and/or residences.

Private and public organizations play a role in assessing, cleaning up and redeveloping brownfield sites.  Key players include state and federal environmental agencies, economic development and planning agencies, citizen and community groups, commercial lenders, technical consultants, legal counsel, local government agencies, developers, investors, and real estate professionals.

Yes. In addition to direct financial assistance, federal, state and local tax incentives are available to property owners and developers to help reduce the costs of brownfield projects. Federal tax incentives include   the Taxpayers Relief Act, which allows eligible taxpayers to deduct qualified cleanup expenses at brownfields in the year expenses are incurred, and rehabilitation income tax credits for 10% of the expenses of rehabilitating structures built before 1936.

Many factors affect the cost of cleanup. For example, if groundwater under the site is contaminated in     addition to soil, the cost of cleanup is likely to be much higher. If the contaminated materials need to be transported off site for treatment, that will also raise the cost. The cost will also depend on standards that apply to the future use of the property.  If a brownfield property is remediated to commercial use standards rather than residential use standards, the cleanup will typically be less expensive. The cost to the property owner of the cleanup will also be affected by whether there are other parties, such as previous owners, who may be potentially responsible for contamination and, thus, must share in cleanup costs.

Cleanup will vary according to the level, type, amount, and extent of contamination, as well as cleanup standards that apply to the site.  A site with extensive soil or groundwater contamination cleaned up to residential standards will take   longer than a site with minimal contamination that will be used for industrial purposes. Factors like time of year or unusually bad weather may also affect duration of cleanup.

Funding was needed to provide resources necessary to continue the City’s ongoing commitment to transforming the community from its former heavy manufacturing and industrial economy to a vibrant commercial and service economy. Clean up and revitalization are seen as a tremendous opportunity to increase nearby residential and commercial   property values.

The City’s Brownfields Redevelopment Advisory Group (Martinsville BRAG) assists City staff in evaluating and selecting properties based on the following criteria:

  • Impact on public health, the environment, and wildlife habitats;
  • Proximity to municipal or private water sources, residential areas, and schools;
  • Potential reuse of the site for open/green space and/or recreation;
  • Degree to which the site furthers objectives for revitalizing the community.