The Atlanta BeltLine has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This Brownfields Program grant will help with the remediation and cleanup of a segment of the Southside Trail between Pittsburgh Yards and Milton Avenue. The funds will also be used to support community outreach activities. The removal and cleanup of soil contaminated by decades of industrial use is key to economic revitalization in the area.
EPA Selects Four Projects in Georgia to Receive $1.9 Million for Brownfields Cleanup and Assessment
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ATLANTA (May 12, 2020) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced four grant recipients in Georgia have been selected to receive awards totaling $1,950,000 to assess and clean up contaminated properties under the agency’s Brownfields program. Recipients include the Albany Museum of Art ($350,000), the City of Albany ($800,00), the City of Atlanta ($300,000) and Invest Atlanta ($500,000).
“These grants will provide the selected communities in Georgia with resources to clean up contaminated lands and return them to productive use,” said Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker. “Overall, Brownfields funding provides communities with an opportunity to convert contaminated sites into community assets that will attract jobs, encourage partnerships and achieve broader economic development outcomes.”
“Cleaning up these contaminated sites will open the door for economic development in Atlanta and Albany, while improving public health and the environment,” said Senator David Perdue. “This investment will have a tangible impact in Georgia, and I appreciate the Administration’s commitment to helping our communities succeed.”
“Cleaning up our downtown areas and neighborhoods is a good way to show that Georgia is open for business,” said Senator Kelly Loeffler. “These federal grants will help make the Peach State an even better place to call home by funding efforts in Atlanta and Albany to clean up contaminated, vacant areas for future developments. This is great news that will spur job creation by encouraging new businesses to move in and existing organizations to expand.”
“I am excited for the prospects the generous Brownfields grants give to the city of Albany and the Albany Museum of Art,” said Congressman Sanford Bishop (GA-02). “These grants will allow the Museum of Art to have a new home after storms severely damaged their current building and will enable the city of Albany to have flexibility in attracting other businesses and nonprofits to repurpose and revitalize the downtown area. The residents of Albany have been through so much recently, but now have an opportunity to enhance the community and stimulate the overall economy.”
“EPA’s grant funding has helped make it possible for communities across Georgia to clean up contaminated properties and benefit from the resulting economic growth,” said Richard Dunn, Director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. “Since the Georgia Brownfields Program began 17 years ago, 598 properties have been cleaned up at minimal expense to taxpayers and we are excited to add these new projects in Atlanta and Albany to that list.”
The Georgia grantees are among 155 grants that will be awarded for communities and tribes totaling over $65.6 million in EPA brownfields funding through the agency’s Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grant Programs. These funds will aid under-served and economically disadvantaged
communities, including neighborhoods located in Opportunity Zones, in assessing and cleaning up abandoned industrial and commercial properties. An Opportunity Zone is an economically-distressed community where new investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment. Of the communities selected this year, 118 can potentially assess or clean up brownfield sites in census tracts designated in these zones. In addition, nearly 30% of the communities selected today will receive brownfields funding for the first time.
The grant recipients in Georgia include:
Albany Museum of Art will receive a $350,000 Brownsfield Cleanup Grant. Grant funds will be used to clean up the former Belk Building located at 128 and 146 West Broad Avenue in the City of Albany. The 1.3-acre site is composed of two parcels that contain a paved lot and two unoccupied commercial brick buildings. Historic uses of the site include automotive sales and repair, a filling station and a department store. The site is contaminated with heavy metals and inorganic contaminants co-mingled with petroleum products. The site is located within a Qualified Opportunity Zone. Grant funds also will be used to support community outreach activities.
The City of Albany will receive a $800,000 Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund Grant. The grant will be used to capitalize a revolving loan fund from which the City of Albany will provide loans and subgrants to non-profits interested in cleaning up and repurposing properties in underserved areas of the city with declining commercial business and industry. Grant funds also will be used to market the revolving loan fund, oversee cleanup activities and conduct community engagement activities. Revolving loan fund activities will focus on the mostly abandoned Broad Avenue Corridor, an area with more than 20 industrial blighted structures that also serves as the main gateway into Albany’s downtown and is located within a Qualified Opportunity Zone.
“The City of Albany is excited about being awarded funding from the EPA’s Brownfield Revolving Loan Program,” said Bo Dorough, Mayor of Albany. “The RLF will assist our community redevelopment efforts by providing low-to-no interest cleanup loans to development projects that will help transform areas of commercial and industrial blight to attractive and safe new uses.”
The City of Atlanta will receive a $300,000 Brownfields Assessment Grant. The Community-wide grant funds will be used to conduct six Phase I and four Phase II environmental site assessments and develop three cleanup plans. Grant funds also will be used to conduct community involvement activities, including updating a community involvement plan, hosting public meetings and developing and updating outreach materials. Assessment activities will target the Groundwork Atlanta/Chattahoochee River area, Proctor Creek Watershed, Atlanta Area-Wide Plan area, and Jonesboro Road Rail Corridor. The four target areas contain 14 Qualified Opportunity Zones. Priority sites include a 75-acre former brick manufacturing property and the recently abandoned 1.3-acre Kudzu Line parcel in the CSX rail corridor.
“The grant will aid us in reinvigorating previously industrialized sites and ultimately lead to increased businesses, services, jobs and community improvements through their rehabilitation and rebuild,” said Tim Keane, Commissioner, Department of City Planning. “As Atlanta grows, it is important that we help create new opportunities by addressing environmental issues and thereby making our city more equitable and vibrant.”
Invest Atlanta will receive a $500,000 Brownfield Cleanup Grant. Grant funds will be used to clean up Segment 2 of the Southside Corridor of the Atlanta Beltline, which is located from the southern projection of Windsor Avenue SW to Milton Avenue SE. The site is 0.85 miles of an abandoned railroad corridor that was an active freight route between 1899 and 1914 and is currently being used as an unpaved unpaved trail. It is contaminated with heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. It also is located within a Qualified Opportunity Zone. Grant funds also will be used to support community outreach activities.
“The City of Atlanta has many examples, like Atlantic Station, of brownfield remediation playing a critical role in revitalizing underdeveloped areas,” said Dr. Eloisa Klementich, President and CEO of Invest Atlanta. “These latest grant funds will not only further development of the Atlanta Beltline’s Southside trail, but also pave the way for equity-driven investment in low-income census tracts, including the three Federal Opportunity Zones in the remediation area. We thank the U.S. Environmental Protection Division for their continued support of these strategic development efforts in our city.”
“Atlanta Beltline, Inc. is thrilled to continue our decades-long partnership with the EPA to remediate a segment of the Southside corridor and create new pathways for economic inclusion, such as the development of Pittsburgh Yards,” said Clyde Higgs, CEO of Atlanta Beltline, Inc. “Initiatives such as these strengthen workforce development efforts and incentivize nearby housing development, including new affordable units.”
Grants awarded by EPA’s Brownfields Program provide communities across the country with an opportunity to transform contaminated sites into community assets that attract jobs and achieve broader economic development outcomes, while taking advantage of existing infrastructure. For example, brownfields grants are shown to:
- Increase Local Tax Revenue: A study of 48 brownfields sites found that an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional local tax revenue was generated in a single year after cleanup. This is two to seven times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of these sites.
- Increase Residential Property Values: Another study found that property values of homes near revitalized brownfields sites increased between 5% and 15% following cleanup.
A brownfield is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. There are estimated to be more than 450,000 brownfields in the United States. EPA’s Brownfields Program began in 1995 and has provided nearly $1.6 billion in brownfield grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return blighted properties to productive reuse. To date, brownfields investments have leveraged more than $31 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. Over the years, the relatively small investment of federal funding, from both public and private sources, leveraged more than 160,000 jobs.
The next National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on April 26-30, 2021, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Offered every two years, this conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing former commercial and industrial properties. EPA co-sponsors this event with the International City/County Management Association.
List of the FY 2020 applicants selected for funding: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy-2020-brownfields-assessment-revolving-loan-fund-and-cleanup-0
For more on the brownfields grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-brownfields-grant-funding
For more on EPA’s Brownfields Program: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields
For more information about EPA’s role in Opportunity Zones: https://www.epa.gov/opportunity-zones
For information on the studies related to the Brownfields Program’s environmental and economic benefits: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-program-environmental-and-economic-benefits