Brownfield Funding Opportunity! What can you do with EPA brownfield grants? More than you think!

The FY 2021 EPA Brownfield grant guidelines are out (grant deadline is October 28, 2020) and we have the scoop on how these grants can advance a wide range of economic development efforts in your community.

First, the basics. EPA offers three grant programs: Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup Grants.

  • Multipurpose Grants: As the name implies, can be used for a wide variety of eligible activities including developing site inventories, community engagement, environmental site assessments, creating reuse plans, and developing an overall revitalization plan. These grants are extremely competitive with EPA estimating 10 grants of $800,000 each being available this round.
  • Assessment Grants: These grants can be awarded for a specific site, or communitywide if more than one brownfield is present. Assessment grants can be used, naturally, for assessing brownfield sites but also inventorying sites, prioritizing sites, community involvement, site reuse planning, and cleanup planning (more on planning uses later). EPA expects to award 87 grants with a cap of $300,000 for community-wide grants and $200,000 for site-specific (a higher amount is available for “Coalition” grants).
  • Cleanup Grants: These funds are for the direct costs associated with the cleanup of brownfield sites. EPA estimates that it will award 26 Cleanup Grants this round with a cap of $500,000.

For the details on these programs, read the EPA FY2021 Grant Guidelines at https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/solicitations-brownfield-grants

The EPA’s brownfield grants are well known as a resource for helping to assess and remediate contaminated sites. What is less known is the wide variety of planning and economic development activities that these grants can support to generate community-wide revitalization. Here is an overview of some of those activities eligible under both Assessment and Multipurpose grants:

  • Site Reuse Assessment: A site reuse assessment evaluates the opportunities, constraints, and range of redevelopment possibilities related to the reuse of a brownfield site. This may include infrastructure, market conditions, site characteristics, and others.
  • Land Use Assessment: This planning analysis focuses on regulatory opportunities and constraints for brownfield sites, including examining the entitlement process and approval barriers for brownfield revitalization projects.
  • Market Study: A real estate market study provides an understanding of market demand, trends, competition, and other opportunities and constraints in a local and regional market that will impact the redevelopment of brownfield sites. A market study will also identify feasible reuse options for a brownfield site or sites.
  • Site Disposition Strategy: A site disposition strategy is an exit strategy that will create a plan for how to reposition and dispose of a brownfield site, such as after acquisition by a community or public entity.
  • Site Reuse Vision: A vision for a brownfield site or small area is a critical factor in attracting development and is intended to communicate a desired reuse concept to stakeholders, officials, private investors, and others. This activity involves the creation of renderings, illustrations, site plans, and other visual materials for the future of a site.
  • Revitalization Plan: The revitalization plan is an A to Z planning effort that includes community involvement, creating a vision and goals, creating a preferred redevelopment concept, developing a funding plan, and establishing an implementation strategy.
  • Resource Roadmap: The resource roadmap is essentially a funding plan that identifies various funding components and needs of a brownfield revitalization project and sets a timeline for pursuing grants, loans, and other private sources for each of those components.
  • Evaluation of Market Viability: These activities are focused on attracting private investment to brownfield revitalization projects. They include identifying those interest in in acquiring and redeveloping brownfield sites and can include an Expression of Interest (EOI) Process or Request for Proposal (RFP) process.

The range of eligible activities provides immense flexibility in crafting a brownfield revitalization effort that can fit almost any community’s situation. Again, it is important to keep in mind that activities are not necessarily limited to an individual site (although they can be) but can incorporate small areas (think downtowns, waterfronts, etc.) or even be community-wide.

For more information on eligible planning and economic development activities, visit https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/information-eligible-planning-activities and as always feel free to reach out to the Camoin 310 team to discuss how EPA’s programs can help your community. But remember – the application deadline of October 28th is fast approaching!

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