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Are you working on a revitalization or redevelopment project?
Is your bank requiring a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment for financing?
Do you think your building or site has lead, asbestos or other contaminants?

Roanoke has funds available for environmental site assessments and cleanup. Funds can be used anywhere in the City if the site is determined eligible. Call or email Frederick Gusler (540 853-1104) to discuss how we can help you.

The City Brownfield Program

Roanoke's brownfield program is one component of the City's efforts to encourage investment in and rejuvenation of its core neighborhoods. The brownfield program, when coupled with the City's economic development, housing, and community development programs, offers a holistic package to spur new uses in the City.

What is a Brownfield?

The Environmental Protection Agency defines brownfields as "real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties takes development pressures off of undeveloped, open land, and both improves and protects the environment."

Why is this important to Roanoke?

Three Tiered Approach

The City experienced explosive growth in the first half of the 20th Century as a hub for railroad and other industrial activities. During this period, the, Magic City’s population grew from 21,495 in 1900 to 91,921 in 1950. Unfortunately, as market dynamics, economic conditions and technologies changed, many traditional manufacturing operations have scaled back or ceased production in the City. This has left our industrial corridors with underused and/or abandoned properties that do not contribute to the community and in some cases act as blight, posing a threat to the surrounding neighborhoods and to the environment.

The sustainable reuse of brownfield sites involves three basic elements or approaches to make the City a vibrant community of choice and to improve quality of life for our residents:
    1. Convert underused industrial property along the Roanoke River to a green corridor with a supporting mix of commercial and residential uses.
    2. Revitalize brownfield sites in or immediately adjacent to residential neighborhoods as neighborhood scale commercial operations that reinforce Village Centers or provide opportunities for technology and entrepreneurial business and to create opportunities for housing clusters and other mixed development.
    3. Reinforce industrial corridors by reusing property for new operations for more efficient land use and to strengthen the industrial base of the City.
This approach allows the City to maintain our existing industrial base while providing opportunities to attract new business and residents.

How is the City involved in Brownfields Redevelopment and Reuse?

The City-wide Brownfield Redevelopment Plan establishes the role for the City in the redevelopment process. That role is to serve as a clearinghouse and facilitator for redevelopment that meets the goal of the Comprehensive Plan and supporting documents. This role includes developing partnerships with property owners, prospective developers, and community stakeholders, and providing financial resources through various grants and other programs, as well as working with other City departments and government agencies to leverage projects that support redevelopment efforts.

Identify and Support Opportunities

The City will continue outreach efforts and compile background information on potential brownfield areas to identify prospective development opportunities and to match and market those opportunities to prospective developers.

The City will also evaluate land use and administrative policies that encourage reuse of brownfield sites and makes such reuse competitive with development of greenfield sites.

Work with Owner and Developer

The City will work with a property owner and /or developer to identify specific programs to facilitate projects that conform to long-term development goals. This assistance may include:
    • Concept development to meet goals of the Comprehensive Plan.
    • Due diligence/environmental investigations.
    • Coordination with DEQ for comfort letters, regulatory support.
    • Coordination of cleanup plans (engineering controls) for consistency with site development (zoning) requirements.
    • Developing land use restrictions that are consistent with current zoning and future land uses to offer maximum flexibility in site use.

Why participate in the City's program?

Federal and state laws were passed in 2002 to remove barriers to reusing sites with environmental issues. By participating in the program, City staff can assist an owner or developer to establish liability limitations/amnesty for environmental issues and can access state and federal funds to help address those issues.

News and Announcements

City of Roanoke Rail Corridor Planning Area mentioned in EPA Region 3 Land Revitalization Newsletter Fall 2011. Click here to read the newsletter and access the article "Roanoke takes brownfields to task."

River project viewed as extension of downtown Roanoke - Roanoke Times article November 2, 2011. As part of the original redevelopment plan the City of Roanoke used an EPA Cleanup Grant to fund the initial cleanup of the former Virginia Scrap Iron and Metal Company property mentioned in this article.