Brownfield Redevelopment Sites

An important element of a community’s economic development strategy is the reuse and redevelopment of existing buildings and sites. Although redeveloping these so-called Brownfield sites often takes longer and can be more expensive than developing "green" sites (such as former farmland), it can help eliminate blighting influences and allows once productive properties to be used again.

With certain legal exclusions and additions, the term "Brownfield site" means 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.

While many people think a Brownfield site means something that is highly polluted, the opposite is true. By law, sites eligible for inclusion on the National Priority List (aka Superfund Sites) are excluded from the definition of a Brownfield. Brownfields are often former industrial properties, but could also be old gas stations or properties that contain asbestos.

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Why Brownfield Sites Can Be Difficult to Redevelop

There are several key challenges to redeveloping Brownfield Sites that make them more difficult than other projects:

  • Environmental Liability Concerns: Developers and property owners want to manage past and potential future liabilities associated with the property’s environmental history.
  • Financial Barriers: Private lenders are often reluctant to give loans for potentially impaired lands. In some cases, cleanup costs for a property may ultimately be more than the property’s value.
  • Cleanup Considerations: A Brownfield Redevelopment timeline may take longer than typical real estate development due to environmental assessment and cleanup activities.
  • Reuse Planning: A reuse plan based on community goals or sound economic and environmental information (e.g., market potential) may be lacking.

The City of Xenia has been active in pursuing grants to identify potential Brownfield Redevelopment opportunities and work with property owners to remediate the sites and put them back into productive use.

Hooven & Allison Cordage Company

The former Hooven & Allison property on Cincinnati Avenue had been vacant since the late 1990s. A major fire in October 2005 destroyed much of the main building, and time and the elements took their toll on others. Working in concert with the then owner, the City jointly funded a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) on the property which indicated there could be some environmental contamination. In January 2009 the City applied for and later received funding through the Clean Ohio Assistance Fund (COAF) to perform a Phase II ESA on the property, which showed there was asbestos throughout many of the buildings, as well as some underground storage tanks that had caused some soil contamination. The City then applied for a grant through the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund (CORF) program, and in November 2011 was awarded $1.9 million grant for the remediation. When the owner was unable to provide the necessary match, the City purchased the property and provided the match, allowing the site to be remediated. While the City seeks industries to locate on the property, it is allowing a local business to store gypsum, the primary ingredient in their product, on the site.

Former OVCH Property

While the former Ohio Veterans Children’s Home (OVCH) property on Home Avenue has been occupied, there are several buildings that have been unused since the campus was purchased by Legacy Ministries International (LMI). Both LMI and Athletes in Action (AIA), who purchased a large portion of the campus in 2011, wanted to be able to better utilize the campus but had concern that some environmental contamination could hinder those efforts.

The City applied for and received two separate COAF grants. One funded a Phase II ESA of the former powerhouse on Home Avenue, along with the buildings that make up Xenia Christian School and the utility tunnels running between them. The second funded a Phase II ESA on most of the campus owned by AIA and their utility tunnels. (These grants did not cover the portion of the campus owned and operated by National Church Residences, which includes Legacy Village and Legacy Village Assisted Living.)

The assessments found primarily asbestos in several of the unused buildings, including the power house and some former dormitories, as well as some lead contamination in the former Armory, as well as asbestos in the utility tunnels.

The City of Xenia, working along with AIA and LMI, received a $2.77 million CORF grant. The contaminated buildings have been razed and the utlity tunnels removed or remediated, allowing for additional ministries and jobs to locate on the campus.

Brownfield Planning Grant

In fall 2011 the City of Xenia applied for and was awarded a $50,000 Brownfield Action Plan Pilot program grant through the State of Ohio. This grant will provide state technical assistance to a planning process to help identify and plan for potential Brownfield sites around Xenia Station and along a portion of the bike trails.

As a result of this grant, the City subsequently applied for and received a Targeted Brownfield Assessment grant through Ohio EPA, allowing us to perform a Phase I ESA and limited Phase II ESA on two sites in the HUB district.