The El Paso Downtown Management District (DMD) was selected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to receive a Brownfields assessment grant for $600,000. The grant is part of $65.6 million given nationwide to assess and clean up contaminated properties under the agency’s Brownfields Program.
“Partnerships are critical to the overall vitality of greater El Paso and our Downtown redevelopment strategies. Adding the EPA as a partner in our efforts allows us to address some of our environmental challenges and helps facilitate greater investments,” said DMD Executive Director Joe Gudenrath. “Our coalition looks forward to working together with the support of the EPA to further transform our great community.”
The grant will be used to focus on Downtown El Paso as defined by DMD boundaries, which contains 85 acres of vacant and underutilized properties and a Qualified Opportunity Zone. Potential priority sites include three vacant retail buildings. Coalition partners are the City of El Paso and El Paso County.
The EPA is announcing the selection of 155 grants this year, for communities and tribes totaling over $65.6 million in EPA brownfields funding 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.
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.-U.S. Environmental Protection Agency