The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the selection of 20 communities in 16 states receiving approximately $4 million in Brownfields Area-Wide Planning (AWP) grants for cleanup and reuse of Brownfields sites to revitalize communities and strengthen local economies.

Modeled after New York State’s Brownfields Opportunity Area (BOA) Program and part of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities—a interagency partnership between the U.S. Department of Transportation, Department of Housing and Urban Development and EPA– these grants recognize that successful, sustained community revitalization, particularly in economically distressed communities, occurs when neighborhood stakeholders, local governments and the private sector are provided tools to develop a shared plan for redevelopment and community-wide improvement.

The agency made the announcement at a press conference in Huntington, W.Va.; the city plans to use its $200,000 AWP grant to help launch the Advanced Manufacturing & Polymer Commercialization Center, a hi-tech campus that will develop innovative new technologies, create new jobs, and lead to the redevelopment of vacant and polluted brownfields on the Ohio River.  The EPA grant will help the city build a 21st century advanced manufacturing economy.

“Every region of the country from the Pacific Northwest to the deep south to the midwest Rust Belt and New England has communities that are new AWP recipients, ranging from a community of just over 1000 people to large urban neighborhoods,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “The selected grantees have demonstrated a strong vision and partnership to catalyze brownfield redevelopment as a pathway to transform their communities into vibrant destinations for housing, manufacturing, and transit-oriented development.”

EPA is awarding up to $200,000 per recipient to work with communities on Brownfields planning activities and reuse in conjunction with community assets such as housing, recreation and open space, employment, education and health facilities, social services, transportation options, infrastructure and commerce needs. The area-wide planning approach recognizes that revitalization of the area surrounding Brownfield sites is also critical to the successful reuse of the property.  The approach enables local leaders to conduct a community-wide systematic approach to identify uses and improvements in the area to foster public-private redevelopment efforts. This inclusive, locally driven planning approach advances health and equity by fostering plans for livable communities through jobs, recreation, housing, and an increased tax base.

Considered reuses of Brownfield sites include advanced manufacturing businesses, recreation hubs, mixed-income housing, community centers that serve youth and unskilled workers, leveraging existing infrastructure to support a walkable, transit-oriented community and capitalizing on Tax Increment Finance (TIF) districts. This group is also leveraging partnerships with local universities, community groups, local health facilities, local businesses and other neighborhood-based nonprofit groups.

This is the third round of grants awarded under the Brownfields AWP program. The 2010 pilot program, where approximately $4 million was awarded to fund AWP plan development in 23 communities, has leveraged approximately $418 million in infrastructure and project development investments.

2015 Area-Wide Planning grants:

  • Camden Redevelopment Agency (NJ)
  • City of Cheyenne, WY
  • City of Dubuque, IA
  • City of Duluth, MN
  • City of Fresno, CA
  • City of Hickory, NC
  • City of Huntington, WV
  • City of Lawrence, MA
  • Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee
  • City of New Bedford, MA
  • City of Pittsburg, KS
  • City of Racine, WI
  • City of Rochester, NY
  • City of Spokane, WA
  • City of St. Helens, OR
  • City of Whitewright, TX
  • Greater Portland Council of Governments (ME)
  • Mississippi Conference of Black Mayors
  • South Bronx Overall EDC (NY)
  • Temple University (PA)