- Kenton Tsoodle
OKC Brownfields Conference to interest investors
In August, the Oklahoma Brownfields Conference returns to Oklahoma City. This event 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 that is cost-prohibitive to clean up. Brownfield grants can make redevelopment possible.
The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced a combined $9.8 million in new brownfields funding for the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, the city of Oklahoma City and the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. Recently the EPA named our city as “among the leaders in the nation in effectively leveraging brownfields funding to revitalize not just individual properties, but entire sections of the city.”
Brownfields funds have been used for redevelopment projects all over Oklahoma City since we started our program in 2003. Projects include the recently reopened First National Center, Core to Shore and Scissortail Park, Sunshine Cleaners in downtown Oklahoma City, The Collective in Midtown, and new townhouses built at NE Sixth Street and Lottie Avenue, where 422 tons of contaminated soil had to be replaced with clean soil before the town houses could be built.
The Steelyard Apartments in Bricktown are another example of success. Formerly an oil-field site, rail yard and home to a metal fabricator, 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.
Oklahoma City’s Brownfields Program is a collaborative effort. The city’s Planning Department manages the program, providing site assessments and remediation assistance on potential redevelopment projects. The Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority owns land for redevelopment and works with the city, developers and other public entities to make best use of economic tools and redevelopment resources.
The National Brownfields Conference will be held at the Oklahoma City Convention Center Aug. 16-19. The conference will provide an excellent opportunity to learn how communities and businesses may benefit from brownfields funding while also providing attendees a forum to network with professionals with substantial brownfields experience. Anyone involved in development or environmental remediation is encouraged to attend and learn more about opportunities to redevelop brownfields in Oklahoma City.