The Brownfields Phenomenon: An Analysis of Environmental, Economic, and Community Concerns
Editors' Summary: Redeveloping abandoned urban hazardous waste sites, or brownfields, can significantly benefit developers, local communities, and the environment. Developers can purchase brownfields inexpensively, and subsequent redevelopment brings jobs to local communities and economic growth to inner cities, while allowing virgin land to remain pristine. Yet, barriers to redevelopment, such as the probability of legal liability, uncertainty regarding cleanup standards, and lenders' unwillingness to finance contaminated property, can make redevelopment extremely risky and difficult. This Article explains the nature of the brownfields problem and provides an overview of the historic, social, economic, and environmental issues that impact brownfield redevelopment. It next addresses current federal, state, and local initiatives to remedy problems associated with brownfields, and presents case studies that illustrate how brownfields may be redeveloped successfully. The Article concludes with recommendations essential to addressing and overcoming barriers to brownfields redevelopment.