One Piece of the Puzzle: Why State Brownfields Programs Can't Lure Businesses to the Urban Core Without Finding the Missing Pieces
58 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2008 Last revised: 24 Apr 2014
U.S. EPA, state legislatures, and state administrative agencies have invested considerable time and money resources to encouraging urban renewal through the redevelopment of contaminated urban properties, called brownfields. These efforts attempt to induce businesses to clean and redevelop brownfields by reducing the numerous environmental barriers to redevelopment, such as the enormous cost of clean-up and threat of immeasurable liability. In this Article, I argue that environmental barriers to redevelopment, although important, are but one piece of a complicated urban redevelopment puzzle. The other pieces, largely missing from existing efforts to encourage redevelopment of brownfields are non-environmental factors, such as size and location of candidate sites, infrastructure issues, and the relative obsolescence of existing structures. These non-environmental factors influence businesses' decision-making and operate as important barriers to redevelopment. Because existing brownfields redevelopment programs fail to focus on these missing pieces, they cannot succeed substantially in encouraging urban renewal.
Notably missing from the literature on corporate site selection and relocation decision-making is any specific consideration of the environmental status of candidate sites. Therefore, I conducted a survey of businesses' decision-making concerning site selection and the environmental status of potential sites. This article presents my analysis of the results of this survey in support of my assertion that non-environmental factors are critical to brownfields redevelopment efforts because they are important to corporate relocation and site selection decisions.
Keywords: Environmental law, brownfields, state law, contaminated property, development
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