Brownfield
 

Promoting Sustainability, Business & Economic Growth

Executive Summary

Brownfield redevelopments are a hot commodity in the industrial real estate space, with developers, investors and users increasingly recognizing the potential of brownfield sites to drive real estate cost savings, improve supply chain efficiencies and strengthen corporate commitments to environmental sustainability.

This paper discusses the underlying trends spurring increased investments in brownfield remediation and redevelopment projects, and the many benefits these properties hold for industrial real estate developers, investors and users.

What’s Driving Increased Investments in Brownfield Remediation and Redevelopment?

Brownfield remediation and redevelopment takes previously unusable, contaminated, polluted or hazardous property and transitions it into safe, environmentally friendly developable land.

Brownfield sites allow organizations to reuse existing infrastructure rather than tearing up farmland for greenfield development, which can be complex and costly. In crowded urban areas, brownfield redevelopment is often the only option as greenfield opportunities may not exist at all.

Large industrial organizations are turning to brownfield remediation and redevelopment programs for five important reasons:

  1. Lower Industrial Property Acquisition and Development Costs. Brownfield properties can often be acquired inexpensively because fewer buyers are willing to take on the challenge of remediation. As an added bonus, these projects enable companies to qualify for government incentives, tax breaks and grants, which further reduce acquisition costs. Additionally, return on investment (ROI) is enhanced because these projects significantly increase property values once cleanup is complete.
  2. Supply Chain Efficiencies and Transportation Savings. Brownfield sites are frequently close to urban cores and existing transportation hubs.1 Proximity to these hubs, including rail and highway infrastructure, streamlines logistics and dramatically lowers transportation costs.
  3. Improved Remediation and Redevelopment Capabilities in the Market. Brownfield remediation and redevelopment has come a long way in the past two decades. Experienced brownfield redevelopers like CenterPoint have streamlined their processes and created remediation frameworks that mitigate liability and economic risks, making brownfield redevelopment only marginally more complex than greenfield development.
  4. Contribution to USGBC LEED Certification. By locating an industrial real estate development project on a site, part or all of which is documented as contaminated, or on a site defined as brownfield by a local, state, or federal government agency, projects can earn points to achieve various levels of LEED certification. This prestigious designation demonstrates a strong commitment to sound environmental practices and is appreciated by shareholders, employees, customers and other key stakeholders.
  5. Positive Publicity and Advancement of Corporate Sustainability Goals. Brownfield projects create new jobs and bolster community infrastructure—a win-win for businesses, investors and the community. The company responsible for remediation gets credit not only for improving the environment, but also for fostering the economic growth of the surrounding community.

Common Brownfield Remediation and Redevelopment Challenges

There are three major challenges industrial real estate buyers and tenants face when finding and investing in a brownfield site: site selection, associated costs, and the transition to an environmentally friendly property.

  1. Site selection is complicated in today’s competitive economic environment. In some cases, brownfield opportunities are well known and highly sought after. In other cases, they are difficult to locate. In both instances, smart site selection requires partnering with an experienced brownfield redeveloper who knows the market and can provide accurate estimates of likely acquisition costs, remediation costs and potential government subsidies.
  2. Brownfield developments not only take longer to execute than greenfield properties, but also accrue much more in associated project expenses. EPA Assessment services alone cost $100,000 on average, in addition to the cost of environmental remediation, testing, and legal fees.2 Post-development, brownfield tenants may face increased labor costs as they retrain staff in new facilities or become subject to higher wage regulations in their new municipalities. At the same time, this reinvestment in staff training, education and reimbursement creates an opportunity for better workforce productivity down the line.
  3. Transitioning to a new property can be complex for large-scale industrial real estate buyers and tenants. The threat of production or supply chain disruptions associated with moving locations is a material risk for any company that relocates to a new industrial property.  There is also a heightened risk for redeveloped brownfield property relocations due to timeline uncertainties associated with contaminant remediation.  By working with experienced brownfield redevelopment experts, companies can ease the transition and reap the many business and economic benefits of these sites.

Key Considerations When Engaging Brownfield Redevelopment Partners

When evaluating partners for brownfield remediation and redevelopment, consider these important factors:

CenterPoint Properties: The Market Leader in Brownfield Remediation and Redevelopment

When faced with economic, relocation and pre-existing lease challenges that affect sustainable initiatives, CenterPoint offers brokers, tenants and investors customized solutions based on unique business requirements and budget. CenterPoint views brownfield sites as unique opportunities to not only provide real estate solutions for clients, but also create new jobs, renew communities’ overarching infrastructure and, in turn, strengthen their economies.

Examples of Successful Brownfield Remediation and Redevelopment Projects

As a national leader in brownfield remediation projects, CenterPoint has worked on numerous projects that showcase the opportunity, return and benefits of revitalizing previously unusable land and repurposing it to generate economic and business growth.

Headquartered in Chicago, CenterPoint is a national industrial real estate firm focused on the development, acquisition and management of industrial property and transportation infrastructure. For more than two decades, CenterPoint has been a leader in brownfield remediation and redevelopment initiatives for the industrial real estate industry. We established the national model for rehabilitating blighted and underutilized industrial property into revitalized locations that comply with government regulations, reduce carbon footprints, and promote economic and business growth.

CenterPoint’s brownfield projects have earned two U.S. EPA Phoenix Awards and numerous city, state and federal accolades, including recognition from project partners and political leaders. Strategically located near ports, rail terminals and population centers, our brownfield sites help companies increase logistics efficiency and reduce drayage, energy costs, waste output and the environmental impact and cost of transportation.

For more information about our innovative brownfield remediation and redevelopment programs, visit our website at centerpoint.com.

Sources

1. “Brownfields FAQ” Environmental Law Institute. http://www.eli.org/brownfields-program/faq 

2. “EPA Targeted Brownfields Reassessment Program” United States Environmental Protection Agency. http://www.epa.gov/region1/brownfields/programs/targeted.html

 

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