Redeveloping Environmentally Impacted Properties

September 5, 2018

The land development industry, contracting for nearly a decade is now on the rise again. In urban areas, where available parcels are environmentally impacted, the land is prepared by addressing structural and environmental issues as part of the design and permitting of the proposed development.

Old dumps and lake fills are particularly interesting because a geotechnical investigation and evaluation are required to address subsurface substandard conditions. In most cases, the land is purchased from the original owner who carried out operations resulting in environmental impacts to the property, even if staying with compliance regulations at the time. Experienced developers and engineers use dynamic compaction to compress the subsurface material increasing its ability to withstand the future loading from structures developed on the surface. Developers extract the cost of preparing the land for development from the purchase price. Those who have not experienced the development of brownfields need to have an experienced engineer on their side to proceed through the challenging assessments to establish accurately a price for the land.

The cost of land preparation may involve addressing multiple issues, such as:

  • The subsurface strength,
  • Environmental issues such as potential impacts to groundwater,
  • Encroachment of subsurface material beyond property boundaries,
  • Odors emanating from areas,
  • Gases generated by below-surface material,
  • Special designs that are not regularly used for virgin properties, may need to be used to address subsurface conditions such as lining surface water swales or sealing pipe connections to structures to prevent gases entering the structure.

Addressing groundwater impacts alone requires an intimate knowledge of cleanup technologies, applicable rules, familiarity with regulators and application reviewers, ability to design methodologies to handle significant amounts of contaminated water coming out of the ground in the case of pumping groundwater for treatment, and experience with developing cost-effective designs that the developer can afford in its development proforma.

SCS was one of the few firms that started working on making undevelopable parcels of land into developable properties when it began its operations nearly fifty years ago. SCS’s experience covers various types of impacted properties with a record of successful and award-winning projects throughout the country resulting in these revitalized parcels of land redeveloped into economically sustainable properties, such as:

SCS supports real estate developers, landowners, banks, and the insurance industry interested in identifying and reducing the environmental risks associated with properties with a past. SCS can provide estimates for remediating the property in preparation for and during construction and support permitting and compliance challenges for financing. Developers retain experienced engineers to assist throughout the design and permitting process, to maximize savings before and after construction begins.


Author: Dr. Ali Khatami



Posted by Diane Samuels at 1:50 pm