This fall the Oklahoma Brownfields Conference returns to Oklahoma City. This event, known for setting brownfields standards nationwide, is an opportunity for public and private investors and redevelopers to learn more about brownfields, grants and the redevelopment process.
Brownfields are underused or abandoned properties with confirmed or possible environmental contaminants that complicate development opportunities. Often the sites sit on old industrial or commercial facilities, such as an abandoned factory or gas station.
Oklahoma City has received more than $10 million in Environmental Protection Agency brownfields funding. Recently the EPA named our city as “among the nation’s top-performing cities for leveraging brownfields funding to build economic success.” This critical funding often is the reason redevelopment is possible; otherwise cleaning up the site would be too cost-prohibitive.
Brownfields funds have been used for redevelopment projects all over Oklahoma City such as the Oklahoma City Community College Capitol Hill Center in south Oklahoma City, First National Center, Sunshine Cleaners in downtown Oklahoma City, The Collective in Midtown, The Dwellings at SOSA and most recently, new town houses built at NE Sixth Street and N. Lottie Avenue. On land formerly occupied by a candy manufacturer, 422 tons of contaminated soil had to be replaced with clean soil before the town houses could be built.
The recently opened Steelyard Apartments in Bricktown is another example of success. Formerly an oil-field site, rail yard and home to Stewart Metal Fabricators, the land was heavily contaminated. The cost to clean up the area would have been too expensive without the help of the city and brownfields funding. The Steelyard area already offers two hotels and market- and affordable-rate apartments. Additional apartments and retail will soon follow.
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