The City of Spokane’s Brownfields Program works to provide assistance to minimize the risks associated with redeveloping a brownfield (possibly contaminated site). The program seeks out funding to conduct site assessments, conduct cleanup activities, along with providing technical assistance and disseminating information on statewide programs and policies to the local level, serving as a resource for potential applicants of the state Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund.
A brownfield is a property wherein its expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. It is estimated that there are more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S. and more than 2,200 in Washington. These often abandoned sites can create safety and health risks to surrounding residents, increase unemployment, and are frequently tax delinquent.
Brownfields sites can be found practically anywhere. Created through contamination due to former uses, brownfields include those sites once used for gas stations, dry cleaners, factories, warehouses, railroad switching yards, landfills, parking lots, etc.
Brownfields are often located in highly desirable areas for development, but contamination prevents redevelopment of that site and adjacent areas. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties increases local tax bases, facilitates job growth, utilizes existing infrastructure, takes development pressures off of undeveloped, open land, improves and protects the environment.
The City of Spokane’s Brownfields Program, administered by Planning’s Economic Development Team, provides assistance to private individuals, businesses, and non-profit organizations to assess and remediate contaminated sites.
Spokane is also home to Washington’s first and third Brownfield Redevelopment Opportunity Zones (ROZ). A former municipal storage site, known as The Ranch, located in the Hillyard Industrial Area became the ROZ pilot project, coinciding with the targeted investment projects being implemented in The Yard. The 100 acre Riverfront Park became the third.
Integrated Planning Grant from Ecology for The Yard and the City’s Ranch site in particular, the $300,000 grant will enable us to carry out environmental due diligence, and remedial investigation in the area. The scope of work for the grant includes a property condition assessment, identifying a stormwater solution for the Ranch’s stormwater basin, developing a brownfield cleanup strategy, conducting preliminary site planning, and creating a redevelopment strategy to position the Hillyard Industrial Brownfield Redevelopment Opportunity Zone Site for redevelopment.
EPA Assessment Grant: $450,000 hazardous substances, $150,000 petroleum. EPA has selected the City of Spokane for a Brownfields Assessment Coalition Grant. Community-wide hazardous substances grant funds will be used to conduct nine Phase I and six Phase II environmental site assessments and to prepare six cleanup plans and four reuse plans. Community-wide petroleum grant funds will be used to conduct five Phase I, and two Phase II, environmental site assessments and to prepare two cleanup plans and two reuse plans. Grant funds of both types also will be used to update the inventory of brownfield sites and conduct community outreach activities. The target area for this grant is the 770-acre University District located along the Spokane River. Coalition partners are the University District Public Development Authority, Washington State University Health Sciences Spokane, Gonzaga University, and the Empire Health Foundation.
EPA Cleanup Grants: $600,000 for hazardous substances. EPA has selected the City of Spokane for three brownfields cleanup grants. Hazardous substances grant funds will be used to clean up Havermale Island, Canada Island, and the North Bank Development Area, three sites in Riverfront Park at 610 West Spokane Boulevard. The 1.7-acre Havermale Island site was originally used for commercial businesses and railroad tracks. It is contaminated with arsenic and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The two-acre Canada Island site was historically used for a water pumping plant, lumber storage yards, and a dry cleaning facility. It is contaminated with arsenic and other metals. The four-acre North Bank Development Area consists of three parcels that were formerly used as lumber storage yards and railroad tracks. It is contaminated with mercury, cadmium, and other metals. All three cleanup sites became part of Riverfront Park, the location of the 1974 World’s Fair.
There are many examples in Spokane and across the nation of highly successful brownfield cleanup and redevelopment projects.
Riverpoint Campus, just east of Downtown Spokane, was once occupied by old rail lines and a waste incubator. It now houses five higher education institutions and the shoreline of the Spokane River has been restored.
Kendall Yards was once the site of a large rail yard. Since then, new houses, townhouses, apartments, offices, restaurants have been built on the 84-acre site. It has become home for several hundred residents and it continues to expand.
Riverfront Spokane was once a large rail yard, shipping and transportation center adjacent to Downtown Spokane. The site was redeveloped in the 1970s for Expo ’74, and is now the location of Riverfront Park. With the current redevelopment additional remediation is required.