Tag Archives: brownfields

Show Me the Money! Brownfield Redevelopment for Affordable Housing CA Conference

September 12, 2020

Brownfields, particularly those in urban infill areas, can be successfully redeveloped into housing and other productive uses with significant benefits to the surrounding communities. Redeveloping brownfields is also an important strategy in addressing California’s affordable housing crisis.

However, funding for brownfield redevelopment falls well short of the need, which is exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting impacts on budgets. But there is hope. Proposed legislation and budget requests for new sources of funding for brownfield redevelopment are proposed in excess of $100M. These policy shifts and resulting funding would make a big difference.

At the upcoming California Land Recycling Conference, several experts from the public and private sectors will share their insights and the latest information about these potential funding sources and opportunities for affordable housing and infill sites in California.

Moderated by Dan Johnson, Vice President & National Partner for Brownfield Redevelopment at SCS Engineers, the panelists are:

  • Janae Davis, Deputy Executive Director of the California Pollution Control Financing Authority
  • Diane Barclay, Assistant Deputy Director and UST Cleanup Fund Manager with the State Water Resources Control Board
  • Markus Niebanck, Principal with Amicus Strategic Environmental Consulting.

The conference is scheduled for Sept. 22-24, 2020. To join this interactive session, Sept. 23 from 2:15 to 3:00 PST, register at https://bit.ly/2FoWI89. Non-profit and student tickets are $25, government tickets are $50, and General Admission is $75.


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Posted by Diane Samuels at 4:38 pm
Tag Archives: brownfields

BCONE – Northeast Sustainable Communities Workshop is now Virtual

July 21, 2020

The Northeast Sustainable Communities Workshop will now be a two-day Virtual Conference on July 21 & 22.

The Workshop was originally scheduled to take place on one day in Trenton, New Jersey, but will now be conducted on-line over two days.  It is hosted by the Brownfield Coalition of the Northeast (BCONE) and brings together a wide range of experts to discuss the most current and state-of-the-art approaches and strategies in brownfields redevelopment.

Your registration to the 2020 Virtual NSCW includes:

  • Full 2-Day Virtual Conference Pass with Access to Virtual Hub
  • Attend from Your Home or Office
  • A Personal Profile Page for Advanced Networking Opportunities
  • Two High-Quality Keynote Presentations
  • 5-, 30-, and 60-minute Livestreamed Presentations by Industry Experts Sessions Followed by Live Q&A
  • Eligibility for Continuing Education Credits
  • All Sessions will be Available for On-Demand Viewing
  • Slidedecks of Presentations May Also be Made Available
  • Our Unique Virtual Hosting Platform Allows for Networking, Follow-Up Conversations, and 1-on-1 Engagement
  • A Virtual Exhibition Hall Where You can Connect with Event Partners, Speakers, Exhibitors and Other Attendees
  • 100% Free Early Access to Our Online Community

When you attend #NSCWonline 2020, you will be able to attend keynotes and workshops presented by leading experts and government officials on the issues that are impacting the industry during these unprecedented times. You can communicate with top industry vendors, and also network with the “who’s who” in brownfields redevelopment in the northeast. This is a must-attend virtual conference for Brownfields professionals!

Click here for more details, App download, and registration information



Posted by Laura Dorn at 8:00 am
Tag Archives: brownfields

Transforming and Revitalizing Communities by Cleaning Up Brownfields

July 17, 2020

Partial Reprint of EPA Press Release

Over the past three years alone, EPA has assessed 6,572 properties, completed cleanups at 638 properties, and made 2,900 properties ready for anticipated reuse. Over this same period, more than 43,000 jobs have been leveraged as a result of Brownfields’ actions.

EPA recently announced the selection of 155 grants 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. Many of the communities and tribes selected can potentially assess or clean up brownfield sites in census tracts designated as federal Opportunity Zones.

“Without redevelopment opportunities, urban and rural communities – even those with deep historic roots – can eventually wither,” said OLEM Assistant Administrator Peter Wright. “Brownfields remediation and revitalization support communities by investing in the redevelopment of existing properties in the community.”

Since EPA’s Brownfields Program began in 1995, it has provided nearly $1.6 billion in Brownfield funding to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return blighted properties to productive reuse.  EPA’s Brownfields funding has leveraged more than $32.6 billion in cleanup and redevelopment from both public and private sources, which in turn has produced more than 167,000 jobs. This is an average of nine jobs per $100,000 of EPA investment and more than $17 in private funding for each dollar of EPA Brownfield grant funding.

Brownfields grants have been 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 percent 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. The Brownfields program empowers local leaders and communities to transform underused and distressed properties into community assets across America. Brownfields funds assess and cleanup vacant, underused, and potentially contaminated properties so that property can be reused as housing, recreation, and open space, health facilities, social services, or commercial sites. There are estimated to be more than 450,000 Brownfields in the United States.

For more information on successful Brownfields program applications, site revitalization, and success stories nationwide visit Brownfields and Voluntary Remediation. If you’d rather jump right into a few success stories, click on these below:

Locate a Brownfields and remediation expert near you – SCS Staff





Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am
Tag Archives: brownfields

EPA Provides Supplemental Funds of $5M to RLF Cooperative Agreements Under CERCLA

March 10, 2020

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to make available approximately $5 million to provide supplemental funds to Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) cooperative agreements previously awarded competitively under section 104(k)(3) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). EPA will consider awarding supplemental funding only to RLF grantees who have demonstrated an ability to deliver programmatic results by making at least one loan or subgrant.

The award of these funds is based on the criteria described at CERCLA 104(k)(5)(A)(ii). The Agency is now accepting requests for supplemental funding from RLF grantees. Specific information on submitting a request for RLF supplemental funding is described below and additional information may be obtained by contacting EPA’s Regional Brownfields Coordinators, your SCS Project Manager, or the Brownfield’s Practice at .

Requests for funding must be submitted to the appropriate EPA Regional Brownfields Coordinator by April 8, 2020. A request for supplemental funding must be in the form of a letter addressed to the appropriate Regional Brownfields Coordinator with a copy to Rachel Congdon at and to Rachel Lentz at . Contact your SCS Project Manager or for more information regarding filing if you are unsure.

Details here.

The Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act added section 104(k) to CERCLA to authorize federal financial assistance for brownfields revitalization, including grants for assessment, cleanup and job training. Section 104(k) includes a provision for EPA to, among other things, award grants to eligible entities to capitalize Revolving Loan Funds and to provide loans and subgrants for brownfields cleanup. Section 104(k)(5)(A)(ii) authorizes EPA to make additional grant funds available to RLF grantees for any year after the year for which the initial grant is made (noncompetitive RLF supplemental funding) taking into consideration:

  • Number of sites and number of communities that are addressed by the revolving loan fund
  • Demand for funding by eligible entities that have not previously received a grant under this subsection
  • Demonstrated ability of the eligible entity to use the revolving loan fund to enhance remediation and provide funds on a continuing basis; and
  • Such other similar factors as the Agency considers appropriate to carry out this subsection.

In order to be considered for supplemental funding, grantees must demonstrate that they have significantly depleted funds (both EPA grant funding and any available program income) and that they have a clear plan for utilizing requested additional funds in a timely manner.

Grantees must demonstrate that they have made at least one loan or subgrant prior to applying for this supplemental funding and have significantly depleted existing available funds. For FY2020, EPA defines “significantly depleted funds'” as uncommitted, available funding is 25% or less of total RLF funds awarded under all open and closed grants and cannot exceed $600,000.  For new RLF recipients with an award of $1 million or less, funds will be considered significantly depleted if the uncommitted, available funding does not exceed $300,000.

Additionally, the RLF recipient must have demonstrated a need for supplemental funding based on, among other factors, the list of potential projects in the RLF program pipeline; demonstrated the ability to make loans and subgrants for cleanups that can be started, completed, and will lead to redevelopment; demonstrated the ability to administer and revolve the RLF by generating program income; demonstrated an ability to use the RLF grant to address funding gaps for cleanup, and demonstrated that they have provided for past and will provide for future community benefit from past and potential loan(s) and/or subgrant(s).

The EPA encourages innovative approaches to maximize revolving and leveraging with other funds, including the use of grant funds as a loan loss guarantee or combining with other government or private sector lending resources. Applicants for supplemental funding must contact the appropriate Regional Brownfields Coordinator to obtain information on the format for supplemental funding applications for their region.

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Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:05 am
Tag Archives: brownfields

Redevelopment of Blighted Properties in Urban Infill Areas Spurs Economic Development

March 9, 2020

Blighted properties are common in many urban areas, and with due diligence often present cost-effective and profitable redevelopment opportunities. Redevelopment of these types of projects is often referred to as Brownfield projects if considering the presence or potential presence of contaminants in the subsurface. Brownfields redevelopments can present great benefits and advantages to the surrounding community.

Paseo at COMM22 is part of a transit-oriented, master-planned community in the Logan Heights neighborhood of San Diego.

Advantages of the redevelopment of these properties include: revitalizing a property and surrounding properties, creating jobs, rejuvenating businesses, adding much-needed housing, increasing tax revenue, reducing crime, and increasing the efficiencies and quality of life for residents and workers.

Redevelopment of blighted properties does come with challenges, such as density, parking, financing, city approvals, and more. Blighted properties can have environmental issues that are best addressed proactively to reduce the risk of cost and schedule overruns as future liability issues during redevelopment.

These issues should start to be addressed during due diligence and before construction activities commence to reduce the uncertainty on potential project costs and timeline implications. Environmental issues can sidetrack the development process of some properties but most sites, if handled correctly, can present significant upside if these issues are identified during the due diligence and integrated into the development processes.

Common environmental concerns include:

  • Spills or releases of fuels or solvents from dry cleaners, gas stations, and industrial properties can present occupant exposure concerns such as vapor intrusion and other health-related liabilities
  • Impacts on the soil from more benign sources such as automotive repair, agricultural use, and long histories of urban development can leave behind toxic chemicals (and metals such as lead from historical trash burning, lead-based paint, imported fill materials). These impacts may not require immediate action, but triggers cleanup with the application for development permits.

Identifying environmental risks before the acquisition of properties is critical, as is assigning potential costs to these risks. Depending on the nature of the transaction, these items are often useful as leverage during negotiations.

A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment is a good starting place for identifying whether environmental issues may exist at a property. If a Phase I identifies potential risks, these reports may recommend additional investigation (Phase II) in the form of soil, soil vapor, and groundwater sampling. Phase II is used to identify whether contamination is present (i.e., from fuels, solvents, pesticides, toxic metals), and with enough sampling can determine the extent and magnitude of contamination.

Resolving these impacts can include leaving and managing impacted soil in place as much as possible since the significant cost from impacted soil is digging it up and paying to dispose of it. Regulatory agencies such as the local health departments, if approached under voluntary cleanup assistance programs, can accommodate leaving all or a good portion of impacted soil in place if the risks to human health and the environment are identified and resolved in a mitigation plan.

For more significant contamination issues, such as extensive soil and groundwater contamination from a gas station or dry cleaner releases, funding in the form of State or Federal grants can be available. Obtaining a grant with the help of a qualified environmental consultant can be the difference-maker in acquiring, cleaning up, and redeveloping a blighted property. These grants don’t typically cover all the costs associated with these cleanups but can cover the majority of these costs with some additional time required to do a cleanup.

Developers can also take out an environmental insurance policy to console a nervous lender or investor. Environmental insurance can cover clean-up requirements, third-party claims for bodily injury and property damage, and associated legal expenses resulting from pollution or contamination. Policies with various term lengths and deductible amounts are available to satisfy the concerns of lenders or equity investors.

The redevelopment of blighted urban properties is a necessary part of the life cycle of a property and a community. It’s critical to identify potential environmental risks during the due diligence process – before you choose to purchase the site. With proper planning, the mitigation or remediation of these impacts can be incorporated into the development process and result in a vibrant, profitable project that protects human health and the environment, and help owners, lenders, investors, and users of these properties sleep well at night.


Luke Montague is a professional geologist (PG) and licensed contractor with 19 years of experience primarily in environmental consulting, as well as in the areas of geotechnical engineering, general contracting, commercial and residential development, and property and asset management.

Learn more about Brownfields | Learn more about Due Diligence






Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am
Tag Archives: brownfields

Countdown to Brownfields 2019 – Los Angeles – December 11-13

December 5, 2019


Brownfields: An Affordable Housing Solution

Wednesday, December 11, 10:45 am – 11:45 am, Room 403A
Track 2: Financing Options, Real Estate, & Economic Development

This interactive panel will discuss the nexus between brownfields development and affordable housing and will explore various policy, funding and incentive programs that have been successfully deployed in the US, including a forgivable loan and grant program in California, with an emphasis on creating affordable housing. A case study focused on Comm 22, an award-winning affordable housing project complements the policy and funding conversation. Dan Johnson, Evans Paull, and Jeff Williams share the complexities of tax credit based affordable housing finance of a 200 unit affordable housing and brownfield redevelopment project and the role that brownfields funding played. The premise is that if early-stage project funding were more widely available, combined with informed policy and regulatory approach, that the housing stock in California and elsewhere could be expanded, possibly significantly.


Brownfields 2019 Opening Celebration and West Sacramento Poster Presentation

4:30 pm – 6:00 pm, Exhibit Hall, West Hall A

Jim Ritchie and Amy Dzialowski present on the City of West Sacramento and the SCS Brownfields Toolbox that helps take advantage of economy of scale to improve both cost and schedule outcomes, and can result in better buy-in from regulatory agencies, due to an emphasis on an overall vision rather than just a transactional approach. Flexibility is another key concept for reuse planning and as a tool for brownfields sites. SCS demonstrates their expansive experience with an array of brownfields tools including, grant funding and leverage, environmental insurance, and other risk-shifting tools such as “CLRRA” agreements.


At the SCS booth 417, meet Mike McLaughlin, SCS Engineers’ Senior Vice President of Environmental Services and a National Specialist on Brownfields & Landfill Redevelopment and Electric Utilities. He is a licensed engineer and attorney with over 30 years of professional experience providing advice on environmental matters. He is an expert on environmental compliance, remediation, and allocation of response costs.

Mr. McLaughlin advises developers, contractors, lenders and land development professionals on the technical and regulatory requirements for construction on Brownfields’ sites nationwide. His combined engineering and legal background provides an unusual perspective on land development where hazardous wastes or other environmental challenges are present. Redevelopment of closed landfills is an area of special interest; he worked on his first such project in 1976.

Mr. McLaughlin has worked at some three dozen Superfund National Priorities List sites in 17 states, and on scores of regulatory compliance, voluntary cleanup, and remediation projects for commercial, industrial, municipal, and military clients.


Green Stormwater Infrastructure on Brownfields – Hands-on Clinic

Thursday, December 12, 3:30 pm – 4:45 pm, Room 411
Track 1: Sustainability, Livability, Resiliency

This 75-minute clinic provides a fun and engaging hands-on experience that will inspire you to tackle the challenges of stormwater flooding using GSI on brownfields. Experts, including Jonathan Meronek, will explain the applications, techniques, and benefits of using GSI on any project site, including the challenges of implementing GSI on Brownfield Sites. During the guided exercise, participants will break into small think tanks, and each think tank will have an opportunity to design their own solution. Come to this session to soak up information on techniques and strategies for integrating GSI into your community’s overall planning efforts.




Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am
Tag Archives: brownfields

Meet Marc Lefebvre of SCS Engineers

May 17, 2019

“Marc’s the kind of engineer SCS wants on the front lines; he’s solved some of the toughest environmental challenges in our nation,” states Myles Clewner, SCS Vice President in the firm’s southeastern region. “Our clients, our regulatory agencies, and our citizens trust him to fix legacy issues and design treatment systems that continue to keep our environment safe.”

Mr. Lefebvre, a Professional Engineer in nine states recently joined the SCS Environmental Services team. He brings over three decades of experience as an environmental engineer and consultant specializing in soil and water remediation services for both government and business sectors.

Mr. Lefebvre manages remedial action plans, multi-media contamination assessments, industrial wastewater treatability studies and treatment system designs for SCS’s clients. He serves as an expert witness as well. He has designed and managed industrial wastewater treatment systems for the pharmaceutical industry; successfully remediated groundwater at petroleum Superfund sites; restored soil and groundwater at several RCRA sites; and was the Engineer of Record for a South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) project to protect the Everglades National Park.

Welcome to SCS!

Learn more about SCS Engineers work:





Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am
Tag Archives: brownfields

USEPA Encourages IRS to Clarify Proposed Opportunity Zone Regulations

April 16, 2019

In a letter dated December 18, 2018, Patricia Overmeyer, Deputy Director, Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization at the USEPA encouraged the IRS to clarify the proposed opportunity zone regulations (REG-115420-18). She reminded the IRS that investments in the assessment, remediation, and redevelopment of brownfields properties in qualified opportunity zones (QOZ) are included within the scope of qualified opportunity funds (QOF).

Her goal is to give Opportunity Fund investors confidence that QOF investments can be used to assess, remediate, and redevelop brownfields properties located in QOZs. Subsequently, these clarifications may lead to the economic revitalization of many of our nation’s disadvantaged communities.

The public comment period for these regulations expired on December 28, 2018. The public hearing was held on February 14, 2019; participants requested additional guidance on a wide variety of proposed regulations, with many suggesting improvements to the regulations allowing for more flexibility in regards to business investment.


December 18, 2018

Kirsten B. Wielobob
Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement
CC:PA:LPD:PR (REG-115420-18), Room 5203
Internal Revenue Service
PO Box 7604
Ben Franklin Station
Washington, DC 20044


Subject: U.S. EPA Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization Seeks Regulatory Clarifications and Improvements to Proposed IRS Rule Regarding “Investing in Opportunity Funds,” REG-115420-18

Dear Ms. Wielobob:

On behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization (OBLR), thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Department of Treasury’s Proposed Regulations §1400Z-2(a)-1, 2(c)-1, 2(d)-1, 2(e)-1 and Revenue Ruling 2018-29, regarding “Investing in Opportunity Funds.” EPA’s OBLR encourages the IRS to clarify and improve the proposed rule to better foster investment in blighted and contaminated properties, or “brownfield sites,” in designated Opportunity Zones.

The “Investing in Opportunity Act” has the potential to spur investment in communities where neighborhoods have long been plagued by concentrated distress and those left behind by the economic recovery following the Recession. Many of these communities struggle with stagnation and lack of access to capital, in part due to the challenges of remediating and redeveloping their brownfield sites. A brownfield is a property where the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant from the property’s former use complicates or inhibits the property’s expansion, redevelopment, or productive reuse. Brownfield sites often stigmatize neighborhoods and perpetuate blight and socio-economic distress.

EPA’s OBLR encourages the IRS to clarify in the final guidance that investments in the assessment, remediation, and redevelopment of brownfields properties located in Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZs) are included within the scope of Qualified Opportunity Funds (QOFs). This clarification will provide an incentive to invest funds in the assessment, remediation, and reuse of brownfield properties. Assessing, remediating and redeveloping brownfield sites in QOZs is integral to the primary purpose of the Investing in Opportunity Act provisions1 because:

  • Brownfields remediation is often the first step to spurring revitalization within distressed communities. In low-income areas which have often suffered a long history of noxious land uses, illegal dumping, closed industry facilities, and lack of health and safety enforcement, federal incentives for revitalization should prioritize ensuring that areas with blighted, underutilized and/or contaminated properties are safe and prepared for redevelopment as the first step towards renewal.
  • Public health and environmental protection are matters of primary concern to distressed communities. Hazardous materials and other contamination on brownfield sites are associated with poor health outcomes (e.g. cancer, respiratory disease, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, injury) and higher mortality rates among infants and adults. Creating incentives to invest in remediation of brownfields will promote economic development and better health outcomes, saving costs and enabling a more productive workforce.
  • Brownfields properties are overwhelmingly concentrated in places of people of color, low-income populations, and otherwise marginalized communities, which are heavily represented among the QOZs. Recently, EPA’s OBLR conducted an analysis recently which found substantial overlap of known brownfield properties within designated QOZ census tracts. The IRS regulations should create incentives for investment in brownfield sites in order to help overcome stagnation, social inequity, and environmental justice concerns within the QOZs, as these factors create barriers to revitalization.
  • Brownfield redevelopment can transform abandoned and underused sites into community and economic assets such as mixed-use developments, housing, and other productive reuses, without contributing to urban sprawl. Further, brownfield properties are often centrally located in areas where transportation and utility infrastructure are already available, which can make them valuable properties for development.
  • Brownfields remediation and redevelopment can take significant time, beyond the development timeframes expected at greenfield projects or at properties with little or no contamination. A successful brownfields redevelopment usually involves environmental assessment and investigations, the development of remedial cleanup plans, coordination with neighborhood stakeholders to ensure that cleanup is protective of public health, and substantial involvement in regulatory approvals, often including approval and inspections of the remediation by state officials through what are typically called “Voluntary Cleanup Programs” established in state environmental agencies — all before the vertical development can occur. Thus, the time limitations proposed by IRS in the proposed regulations must be sensitive to the long timeframes often needed to address contamination issues at brownfield sites.

Clarification Requests and Comments:

EPA’s OBLR requests that the IRS make the following clarifications to the proposed guidelines. These clarifications will give Opportunity Fund investors confidence that QOF investment can be used to assess, clean up, and redevelop brownfields properties located in QOZs.

  1. Brownfields Cleanup of Real Property Should Constitute “Original Use”

EPA’s OBLR requests that the IRS clarify the definition of “Original Use” so that the term applies to property that is a brownfield site as defined by section 101(39) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (42 U.S.C. 9601), which is the law that establishes the U.S. EPA brownfields program and guides brownfields considerations by many other federal departments and agencies. The IRS has used this definition of “brownfield” as well, under 26 U.S.C. Section 198(c), which permitted certain treatment of expenditures on “qualified environmental remediation” at a “qualified remediation site”, which was defined as “any area . . . at or on which there has been a release (or threat of release) or disposal of any hazardous substance.”

While most new investments assume that a property already meets applicable health and safety standards, brownfields properties are different in that they are complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.

  • Investment to assess and remediate environmental conditions at brownfield properties are required to make these properties financeable and developable.
  • Essentially, all lenders and investors require environmental investigation and cleanup for properties which are brownfields to ensure they are safe for redevelopment.
    • Brownfields remediation can make previously unsuitable properties ready for investment by making them meet basic safety standards and safe for human health and the environment.
    • Making previously unsuitable properties located in QOZs ready for investment enables properties to “commence use” within the QOZ.

Defining “Original Use” to incorporate brownfields properties located in QOZs creates the best solution to enabling QOF investments in brownfields remediation and redevelopment. This clarification will address the concern that the 30-month window for substantial improvement is unrealistic for brownfields properties, which take longer than traditional vertical development projects due to the added challenges of contamination.

Example: A brownfields remediation firm purchases a contaminated brownfields property in a QOZ, where a former factory was once located, to remediate the land and sell the property for new use. This brownfield property should qualify as QOZ property under “original use.

  1. Cleanup or Reuse of Vacant or Underutilized Property Should Constitute an “Original Use”: EPA’s OBLR requests that the IRS clarify the definition of “Original Use” so that the term applies to property that is vacant or underutilized for a period of one year or more. For purposes of Section 1400Z-2(d)(2)(D)(i), if property is vacant or underutilized for at least a one-year period, use prior to that period should be disregarded for purposes of determining original use. This borrows from the commonsense definition of “original use” for Enterprise Zone facility bonds in 26 CFR 1.1394-1 (h) and adds “underutilized.”

“Underutilized” could be defined as it is in other federal statute, such as the definition of “underutilized” in 45 CFR 12a.1 (which defines underutilized as it relates to property owned by federal agencies), stating that ” underutilized” should mean an entire property or portion thereof, with or without improvements which is used only at irregular periods or intermittently by the owner or operator for purposes of that owner or operator, or which is used for current purposes that can be satisfied with only a portion of the property.

The definition of original use should also permit QOZ investment in properties that contribute to blight or create barriers to economic vibrancy due to prolonged vacancy or underutilization. Defining original use to include new use of properties that are contributing to decay within distressed communities is clearly in line with the purpose of the incentive

Example: A developer purchases a property to rehabilitate for new use. The property has a factory on it that has been vacant for more than one year. Regardless of whether that property is reused for a similar manufacturing purpose, a new manufacturing purpose, or a different kind of development (such as commercial or residential), this property should qualify as QOZ Property under “original use.” The same should apply for a property that has a 5-acre factory on it where only 0.5 acres of space are currently in use.

  1. Foreclosed and Tax-Reverted Properties Held by Local Units of Government Should be Treated as “Underutilized or Abandoned Property”:EPA’ s OBLR requests that the IRS clarify that any property that has been foreclosed upon and reverted to a local unit of government or land bank should qualify as “vacant and underutilized” regardless of how long it has been vacant, abandoned or underutilized.

Local units of government often acquire brownfields and other blighted properties through tax delinquency, abandonment, bankruptcy, etc. A bright line test around the status of ownership for properties in foreclosure, receivership, or involuntary transfer may be easier to determine than the historical use of the property and expedite investment in assembled properties, particularly in distressed urban areas.

  1. Brownfield Investments Should Count Toward Substantial Improvement: EPA’s OBLR requests that the IRS clarify that improvements to land, including brownfields assessment, cleanup and other site preparation costs, are included as expenses that will meet the “Substantial Improvement” test for a QOZ Property. This aligns with the standard definition of “tangible property” (“land plus improvements”).

Without this clarification, it is unclear how improvements to the land itself factor into a calculation of substantial improvement, given that the adjusted basis in the example outlined in Rev. Rule 2018-29 pertains only to improvements to a building. While Rev. Rule 20 18-29 indicates that the cost of the land on which the building is located is not included in the adjusted basis for the substantial improvement calculation, it is unclear what the calculation would be on a brownfields project for which the primary or sole improvements are improvements to the land itself, when vertical development expected later.

Environmental assessment and remediation activities can make a property ready for redevelopment where it would otherwise be unsafe for reuse due to the presence or potential presence of environmental contamination. Unless the land is assessed, remediated to appropriate contaminant levels and exposures controlled (based on reuse of the property), any building and business investment will not occur on the property.

The following environmental assessment and remediation activities commonly occur at brownfield properties because they are necessary to enable safe reuse:

  • Removing underground storage tanks when excavating for basement or parking
  • Environmental site assessments (Phase I/II) to investigate potential contamination for due diligence purposes and admission into a state or tribal voluntary cleanup program
  • Contamination cleanup of soil and groundwater on site
  • Engineering controls/barriers that prevent exposure of environmental contamination
  • Abating asbestos or lead paint when rehabilitating an existing building

Example: A developer purchases Property X, which is located in a QOZ, for $1 million. Property X consists of a building previously used as a factory erected prior to 20 18 and land on which the factory building is located. Sixty percent ($600k) of the $1 million purchase price for Property X is attributable to the value of the land and forty percent ($400k) is attributable to the value of the building. QOF A intends to convert the factory building to residential rental property. The transformation will require $800k in environmental remediation costs. Within 29 months after the date of QOF A’s acquisition of Property X, QOF A invests $800k in remediating the property and $500k in additions to the building. Clarification is necessary to ensure that the expenses associated with remediating the land will count toward the substantial improvement calculation. The same is true for a similar scenario common at complex brownfield sites in which at the close of the 30-month period the only expenditures have been for remediation of the land.

  1. Gains from QOF Investment in Brownfield Improvements to Land Should Be Permitted to be Carried Over into Other QOZ Investments:EPA’s Brownfields and Land Revitalization Program requests that the IRS enable gains realized from the sale or exchange of QOZ Property to be deferred if they are reinvested in replacement QOZ Property within a 12-month period beginning on the date of the sale or exchange, with the QOF’s basis in the replacement Property being equal to the QOF’s basis in the QOZ Property at the time it was sold or exchanged. This carryover basis will preserve any gains not recognized in the event that a subsequent sale is not followed by the reinvestment in replacement QOZ Property within a 12-month period.

Clarification on this issue is particularly pertinent to facilitating the ability for QOZ Businesses to remediate brownfields properties with QOF funds to sell to a vertical developer and still access the benefits of the step-up in basis. Without this clarification, using QOF funding for brownfields remediation and property improvement as the primary business activity might require the owners of the site to sit on the site for the duration of the ten years after remediation is complete in order to access the benefits of the Opportunity Zone incentive.

Example: On January 1, 2019, T, a calendar-year taxpayer, invested $1 million of gain in B, an QOF partnership dedicated to brownfields cleanup that remediates properties to sell for future vertical development by other parties. B immediately makes a $1 million investment in remediation and land improvements to a brownfields site that qualifies as QOZ Property. On January 1, 2023 (after four years), B sells the remediated QOZ Property to a vertical developer for $1.5 million and reinvests all of the proceeds in replacement QOZ Property within 12 months. Clarification is necessary that if the entire $1.5 million from the sale of QOZ Property is reinvested into replacement QOZ Property: 1) the deferral and reduction in basis timeclocks on the original $1 million investment would not reset, and 2) the 10-year timeclock on would not reset for the $500,000 in gain.

  1. Allow QOF Investments to be Stacked for Brownfield Properties that Require Remediation: EPA’s OBLR requests that the IRS clarify that the 30-month window to demonstrate substantial improvement to the land via remediation and other site preparation activities is a separate 30-month window from follow-on vertical development.

Brownfields remediation and redevelopment often includes separate land improvement (horizontal development) and vertical development phases, and investors face regulatory risk of effectuating cleanup which enables the property to be financed. These factors make the substantial improvement 30-month window extremely difficult time frame in which to complete a redevelopment which involves remediation of environmental contamination.

Large redevelopment projects such as auto manufacturing site or former hospitals may require extensive demolition of existing buildings, excavation, cleanup and grading as early site preparations for the construction of the new structure. It is common to spend several years on existing structural demolition, earthmoving, and environmental cleanup on large sites, which almost guarantees that the finished building will not be completely operational by the end of the 30-month period for substantial improvement. Many “ground up” construction projects in cold weather climates will also face greater challenges in achieving occupancy within 30 months and will likely be a work in progress. Clarity is needed so that significant — and transformative — redevelopment projects can be pursued.

Thank you for considering our requests for clarifications. The clarifications we are requesting will give Opportunity Fund investors confidence that QOF investments can be used to assess, remediate, and redevelop brownfields properties located in QOZs. Subsequently, these clarifications may lead to the economic revitalization of many of our nation’s disadvantaged communities. Should you want to discuss our comments and requests for clarification, please feel free to contact me at 202-566-2774 or .


Patricia Overmeyer
Deputy Director
Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


1See H.R. Rept. 115-466, 537, which describes the intent to attract an influx of capital to designated low-income communities with impacts and outcomes in those areas including job creation, poverty reduction, and other metrics.


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Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:05 am
Tag Archives: brownfields

U.S. Department of Treasury Issues Proposed Guidance – Opportunity Zone Tax Incentive

December 12, 2018

On October 19, 2018, the Treasury issued proposed guidance related to the new Opportunity Zone tax incentive created by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  Opportunity Zones are communities where new investments may be eligible for significant tax incentives.  The incentive is designed to spur economic development and job creation.

New tax code Section 1400Z-1 provides the rules for designating Opportunity Zones and Section 1400Z-2 allows a taxpayer to elect to defer certain gains based on timely investment in Qualified Opportunity Fund (QOF) and excludes post-acquisition gains on investments in QOFs held for at least 10 years.  The proposed guidance under Section 1400Z-2 addresses the gains eligible for deferral, types of taxpayers who are eligible, the type of eligible interest, the timeframe to invest in the QOF, and the requirement to include previously deferred gains.  The proposed regulations also provide rules for self-certifying as a QOF, valuation of QOF assets (90% test), and guidance on qualified businesses.  The proposed rule would permit an investor making an investment as late as the end of June 2027 to hold the investment in the QOF for the entire 10-year holding period plus another 10 years through 2047.

In a nutshell, the new law allows a taxpayer who would otherwise owe capital gains tax on an investment to roll-over the proceeds into an Opportunity Zone and thereby defer (or eliminate) capital gains taxes provided certain conditions are met. As many of the Opportunity Zones will be designated in areas containing Brownfields redevelopment opportunities, SCS expects many of our clients will be interested in this opportunity to do well by doing good. If you are interested in investing in a potential brownfield site, contact SCS Engineers to help you evaluate and manage environmental concerns associated with your site.  Visit www.scsengineers.com to learn more.

The following are links to the press release and proposed guidance:




The Treasury plans to present additional guidance before the end of the year, and a public hearing is scheduled for January 10, 2019.   Taxpayers may submit comments by 60 days (around the third week in December 2018) after the publication of the proposed guidance in the Federal Register at www.regulations.gov.  Additional guidance is expected to include the meaning of “substantially all”; transactions that may trigger the inclusion of gain that has been deferred; the reasonable period for a QOF to reinvest without paying a penalty; administrative rules regarding the investment standard; and, information-reporting requirements.  SCS will provide an update when the additional guidance becomes available.

For additional information, you may contact SCS Engineers at   or the blog Author, Christine Stokes.

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Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am
Tag Archives: brownfields

Brownfields Assessment, Cleanup and the New Multipurpose Grant Applications Due in January

December 4, 2018


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publishes grant application guidance for Brownfields Assessment, Cleanup, and the new Multipurpose Grants.

$50 million+ will be made available this year.

With the passage of the BUILD Act this year, there are important changes to the grant applications including special consideration given to communities and projects on any waterfronts or floodplains. There are three categories of opportunities for Brownfield grant funding, as follows:

Multipurpose Grants – each proposal is funded up to $800,000 over five years. EPA anticipates selecting ten proposals.

Assessment Grants – Community-wide and Site-specific proposals are each funded up to $200,000 over three years; Assessment Coalition proposals are funded up to $600,000 over three years. EPA anticipates selecting 114 proposals.

Cleanup Grants each proposal funded up to $500,000 over three years. EPA anticipates selecting 40 proposals. Brownfield sites where EPA Cleanup Grant funds were previously expended may not receive additional EPA Cleanup Grant funding in FY 2019.

 EPA is hosting a webinar on December 11, 2018, at 2 pm (ET). The webinar is to assist applicants with understanding the Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup Grant Guidelines. Participants can join the audio conference line at 1-866-299-3188 using access code: 202-566-1817, and the web conference at https://epawebconferencing.acms.com/fy19_mac/

SCS Engineers routinely and successfully supports our clients with Brownfield’s grant writing and grant application reviews, in addition to our Brownfields and Remediation Services.

Applications are due by January 31, 2019. Please contact Amy Dzialowski, our Brownfields Grant Specialist or if you have a property or redevelopment district that you think is a good fit for pursuing these funds, or for a conversation regarding this program.

Amy Dzialowski, Project Director, and SCS’s Brownfields Grants National Expert

Brownfields and Voluntary Remediation Experts: Mike McLaughlin, Sr. VP, and Dan Johnson, VP.







Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am