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Brownfield Conference Attracts Developers, Environmentalists to OKC

The Brownfields Program’s revolving loan funds were used to revitalize the former Bricktown Steelyard complex into a Steelyard retail and apartment community. The site was home to an oil pump in Oklahoma City’s early days and later became the site of a railroad yard for locomotives. (Courtesy Steelyards/NE Property Management)

Oklahoma City – Real estate developers and environmentalists from across the country will meet in Oklahoma City next week to teach and learn about the successful redevelopment of properties and buildings that have been contaminated by past efforts.

The 2022 National Brownfields Conference will be held August 16-19 at the Oklahoma City Convention Center. The conference will feature more than 120 interactive sessions, mobile his workshops, events, and tours of 10 projects that used brownfield funding to remediate environmental pollution.

“We are really excited that they chose Oklahoma City to host this convention. Amanda Alewine of the Planning Department said.

Alewine says the timing is perfect because the bipartisan infrastructure law includes an unprecedented $1.5 billion investment in the Environmental Protection Agency’s brownfield programs over the next two years. .

Brownfields are unused or abandoned properties with known or potential environmental contaminants that complicate development opportunities.

They may include land or buildings containing asbestos, mold, or other contaminants. These locations are often former industrial and commercial facilities such as gas stations, dry cleaning facilities, grain bins, landfills, and oil fields.

“The cost of removing contaminants from real estate is often prohibitive for potential buyers,” says Alewine. “The land then declines and eventually becomes an eyesore for the community. These funds provide an incentive for people to reinvest in these abandoned and underutilized properties.”

Oklahoma City’s Brownfields Program provides free environmental assessments for eligible redevelopment projects, as well as low-cost sub-grant grants to for-profit developers and non-profit organizations to help clean up the redevelopment. offers environmental cleanup loans.

More than 200 projects have been implemented since the city received its first grant from the EPA in 2005, Alewine said.

For-profit revolving fund loans have been used for smaller projects ranging from single dwellings built on former oilfield land to First National Centers requiring the removal of asbestos and lead-based paint. I was.

A sub-grant was awarded to the Clara Luper Civil Rights Center, a MAPS 4 project to be built on the site of a former gas station with leaking underground storage tanks.

The city recently received its 20th EPA brownfield grant, Alewine said. $3.9 million will be available for revolving fund loans and nonprofit sub-grants beginning October 1. The city plans to use this fund for five years.

“I will apply for another evaluation grant this fall,” she said. “We are doing what we can to make money for Oklahoma City.”

Alewine said many local developers are familiar with the Brownfields program and even speak at conferences. She encourages anyone interested in urban renewal but unaware of what it takes to rehabilitate contaminated land to get involved.

Attendees will hear about other community projects that have successfully brought abandoned buildings back to life.

“Brownfield 2022 is the premier conference for communities to apply for grants and learn how to maximize their economic, environmental and social performance,” said Alewine. For more information or to register, please visit https://brownfields2022.org/.

In conjunction with the conference, the Environmental Justice Caucus will be held Monday from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm at the Oklahoma City Convention Center. Community-led discussions enable people to share ideas, build relationships, and communicate directly with EPA. There is no participation fee.

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