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  • 11 May 2020 11:59 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The NYC Brownfield Partnership is pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Big Apple Brownfield Awards. Click here to download the pdf file with all the details on the winning projects.


  • 7 Jan 2020 11:44 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Big Apple Brownfield Awards (BABAs) promote excellence in brownfield redevelopment by honoring successful brownfield projects in New York City. To nominate your project for the 2020 BABAs, please click here. The deadline for submitting an application is Friday, February 14, 2020.

  • 7 Jan 2020 11:21 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Steve Dwyer

    In the fall, the New York City Council passed a $1.7 billion plan to expand protected bike lanes as part of an effort to overhaul the city’s streetscape.

    The plan aims to create a comprehensive reimagining of how roads can best serve all New Yorkers navigating them. Spearheaded by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and recently backed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, this follows a sharp spike in cyclist deaths this year—25 so far, a two-decade peak, and more than double the 10 recorded in 2018. 

    Overhauling the city streetscape and fostering a plan to promote bike transportation has a brownfield redevelopment connection, all within transportation-oriented developments, or TODs. Beyond the safety aspects, the legislation seeks to overhaul how New Yorkers bike, bus and walk through the five boroughs by requiring the city to build 250 miles of protected bike lanes and 150 miles of dedicated bus lanes over a five-year period. It also calls for one million square feet of new pedestrian space within the first two years, along with new signaling technology and accessibility upgrades throughout the city.

    Under the bill, the city’s Department of Transportation is required to release a plan every five years to make street safety improvements and to prioritize public transit. The city must also hit annual targets, conduct public education on the effort and issue a report on any changes to the plan each February. The first master plan is due December 2021, with the second slated for 2026. The latter is set to complete the city’s bike lane network—something transportation advocates have long demanded.

    Using a broad lens, a TOD-oriented blueprint within the urban infill is continuing to gather momentum each year across many major metro areas as a growing number of people, from millennials to boomers, transition to city living—boomers after downsizing homes and millennials often to be closer to work. It’s all part of the “live-work-play” dynamic. 

    TODs have much upside: They are an environmental boon as it reduces the carbon footprint as fewer people are inclined to drive because it means easier navigation within the grid across bike, light rail, electric scooter and walking. People drive less when TODs are executed to the letter and it also sparks the local economy. As people get to places quicker, which include local businesses, they can spend additional disposable income and spark the local economy.  

    A growing number of developers, many brownfield professionals, are initiating mixed-used projects that start with perhaps an anchor multi-unit living complex that’s built minus enclosed or open-air parking. That’s the point: Build out the project to attract folks who are expressly seeking NOT to drive because they developed a propensity for alt-transportation. 

    New York City lawmakers that support this ambitious plan emphasize that the effort is not a push toward eliminating cars from the city, but instead is a shift away from car-centric design with safety improvements geared toward improving quality of life and safety on city streets for all.

    Far from everyone is on board with the legislation, and several city lawmakers complained in late October about how the bill lacks community engagement for the changes that are coming to New Yorkers’ neighborhoods. 

    The de Blasio administration has completed 100 miles of protected bike lane since 2014, and in August the mayor unveiled a $58.4 million “Green Wave” plan that seeks to build safe cycling infrastructure and promote biking. The master streets plan takes the effort further with a more aggressive push toward making streets friendly to pedestrians and public transit.

    This is all a testament to TOD-oriented projects, which seem to fly under the radar from a brownfield redevelopment standpoint. But they are powerful catalyst for habit-changing and to stimulate economic, environmental and social change. 

    This month, we’ll take a closer look at the same brand of under-the-radar brownfields—the power of urban garden programs and the bandwidth it might have for greater expansion in New York City and beyond. Stay tuned. 

  • 16 Dec 2019 1:17 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Abbey Duncan Brownfield Scholarship Program is an annual program designed to provide financial support to undergraduate and graduate students pursuing careers in the brownfield industry in New York City.

    The Abbey Duncan Brownfield Scholarship Program is administered by the NYC Brownfield Partnership, an association of member organizations involved in the brownfield industry in New York City.

    2020 Scholarships will be one-time awards of up to $5,000. Funds will be disbursed directly to the college at which the student is enrolled in coordination with the school’s financial aid office.

    Eligibility:

    Scholarship recipients will be selected on a competitive basis. In order to be eligible for the award, students must be:

    • An undergraduate or graduate student enrolled at one of the colleges affiliated with CUNY and other select colleges in the New York City Metro area;
    • Enrolled in at least one course during the 2020 academic year; and
    • Pursuing studies related to brownfield redevelopment, such as environmental engineering, environmental or geosciences, geology or hydrogeology, environmental policy, environmental planning, environmental justice, environmental law, real estate, sustainable development or industrial hygiene.

    To Apply:

    All application materials are found online at:

    https://nycbrownfieldpartnership.org/abbey-duncan-scholarship-program

    All applications must be received by March 25, 2020

    Please contact scholarships@nycbrownfieldpartnership.org with any questions.

  • 16 Dec 2019 1:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Steve Dwyer

    State, local and federal laws and regulations can make or break some of New York City and New York State’s incentives to invest—or not—in remediating and redeveloping brownfield properties. There are several outcomes across the broad spectrum, from tax burdens that push private investors away to tax relief measures that incentivize them. 

    There are a lot of moving parts.  In early September, development rights and construction funding were awarded for four new housing projects that will collectively create more than 2,700 affordable-supportive residential units. Herkimer Gardens, located on Herkimer Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, is one of the projects to tap funding and approvals from the NYS  $1.4 billion “Vital Brooklyn” housing initiative.

    A year earlier, all hands were on deck to keep tax credit payments flowing to stakeholders under the Brownfield Cleanup Program, and you will remember that the NYC Brownfield Partnership strongly recommended that deferral of BCP tax credit payments (as proposed in the New York state executive budget) not be incorporated into the 2018-19 budget. It wasn’t.

    New York Brownfield Opportunity Areas (BOAs) are proliferating, now 47 BOAs located across the Empire State. BOA establishment provides municipalities and community-based organizations with assistance, up to 90% of the eligible project costs, to complete revitalization plans and implementation strategies for areas or communities affected by the presence of brownfield sites, and site assessments for strategic brownfield sites.

    There is another movement that’s worth watching.  USEPA is eager for investors to take advantage of the Opportunity Zone (OZ) tax benefit program focused on distressed communities to assist with cleanup and redevelopment of brownfield properties. But to have it work requires assistance from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to clarify whether typical brownfield site activities, including site assessment and cleanup, are considered valid site preparation costs.

    Opportunity Zones, as established by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, are economically distressed communities identified by state governors as having potential for investment. Through the IRS program, investors may defer capital gains tax by adding their gains to special funds dedicated to OZ revitalization. The OZ program is intelligent and innovative, but like many tax programs it’s also complicated.

    An initial tranche of IRS guidelines for the program, issued in October of 2018, made USEPA uncertain whether typical brownfield site activities, including site assessment and cleanup, are considered valid site preparation costs..

    The second tranche of guidelines, released in April, appeared to clarify that those are valid in certain cases. But the IRS does not mention brownfields explicitly, and therein lies the rub.

    Is the IRS usually viewed as an agency dedicated to effecting much change to help ramp up activity in the brownfield redevelopment context? Probably not. The NYC Brownfield Partnership should continue to monitor the IRS clarification on brownfields and site preparation costs for OZs and determine if it is assisting NYC and NYS to realize accelerated remediation and redevelopment of brownfield sites in the Zones. When the time is right, the Partnership’s comments  might assist in better federal decision-making to accelerate brownfield revitalization. 

  • 6 Nov 2019 6:20 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Steve Dwyer 

    In the brownfield redevelopment industry, everyone’s eternally seeking the secret sauce to success. For one young practitioner, the first big secret came thanks to a simple Google search: Attend a New York City Brownfield Partnership meeting and land a new environmental position—in a matter of weeks. 

    Indeed, Rob Dwyer (no relation to this blog’s author) accepted a position last January with Impact Environmental, Bohemia, N.Y., when he attended a holiday networking event and scholarship fundraiser held in December 2018 to simply meet and greet, do a little networking with members. 

    Dwyer, 30, a native of Sydney, Australia who had recently relocated to New York, didn’t know many environmental professionals in the area. So he started the process with a web search and punched in terms like “environmental remediation companies” and “brownfields.” The Partnership name prominently appeared on the search. Dwyer made a call, found out attending an event was his for a nominal fee—and set out to the event with eyes wide open. 

    It turned out to be a home run, the kind Yankees slugger Aaron Judge deposits in the right field stands.   

    “My girlfriend (who works in the hazmat sector of environmental remediation) and I went to the event, met professionals from companies like GEI, Langan and Impact Environmental,” says Dwyer, who, before relocating to the States had worked eight years in Sydney, immersed in remediation projects within the urban infill in the Land Down Under. He also spent time working in the United Kingdom.

    “At the December event, I set up an interview with Impact for the first week of January and soon after accepted an environmental and engineering-related position within the same month. I honestly thought this would take three or four months to land a job—certainly not three weeks,” he says.

    The Brownfield Coalition of the Northeast (BCONE) and the Society of Women Envrionmental Professionals (SWEP) Metro Net group joined the Partnership in putting on the December 2018 event. Now a member of both the Partnership and BCONE, Dwyer is currently involved with several environmental projects that include affordable housing projects in the Bronx, a school authority project in the Bronx and a landfill initiative in New Jersey that’s being converted into a solar farm. “As an environmental engineer who’s tasked with remedial design and remediation oversight, you have to be flexible to assume a lot of duties, to juggle many balls at once,” says Dwyer. 

    He has no regrets about his full plate at Impact, all spawned thanks to a Partnership/SWEP/BCONE holiday event. He encourages more young professionals to take a similar approach because it’s often a win-win. 

    Separately, it was fascinating to hear Rob Dwyer compare and contrast the differences between the brownfield redevelopment process in Australia versus in the U.S. He sees U.S. brownfield’s process as one that functions better than what he experienced abroad. 

    “In Australia—and from a technical side—there are many similarities (to the States) when it comes to performing investigations and remedial designs. Both models offer the same textbooks, but when it comes to the implementation of projects here in the States you, as a private company, work closely with the city or municipality across all project functions—and this engagement is apparent right to the end of the project cycle,” he says. 

    He says that in Sydney, “it’s different in that they (public sector) will almost hang up the phone on you until you provide project details that are updated for review. In the U.S., I’ve noticed the close relationship between the public and private sectors. In Australia, it’s more like a silo between the two, with no dialogue between the two entities throughout the whole process. Here, just to be able to call someone in New York City is crucial. They take your call, offer advice and help you all the way down the line,” he says.  

    The strategies underpinning end use in Australia and in the States is also very different, he says.  

    “In Australia, there are many restrictions (about what a certain site end use can become)—a line in the sand is drawn. And the more invasive the environmental activity is, the more challenging the task.”   

    He says that there are so many environmental remediation methods being adopted with his work at Impact, ones that are “non-invasive” to soil and groundwater that it opens up a treasure trove of end use possibilities, provides many more options for stakeholders to consider. 

    “I have taken notice to how many private firms and public partners have an affinity for understanding the intricacies of specialized brownfields—it’s almost like everyone is up to speed (on mastering it).”

    Dwyer says that, globally, only a handful of contractors had an affinity for specialized brownfield projects, beginning at the outset with Phase 1-3 investigations. “Today, many firms I’m aware of even advertise brownfields as a specialization on their website. These firms have gone from, ‘no, we don’t do that type of work’ to ‘yes, we embrace this kind of work.’” 

    So what was learned? Well, the structure of U.S. brownfields has a clear edge against those in many other countries. And, that when it comes to networking to be able to work in this industry, the New York City Brownfield Partnership is a clear broker—match-maker, if you will.

  • 4 Nov 2019 2:58 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Steve Dwyer 

    Fueled by state-sponsored Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) designations or other funding models, communities around New York City are discovering ways to garner crucial capital to enhance their civic positions as smaller “destination” spots to complement a large-size metropolis, demonstrating the ability to function in synergy with NYC’s myriad of attractions for residents and visitors. 

    One topic broached this summer as part of the NYCBP’s “Redevelopment Roundtable” during its committees and subcommittees deliberations was the city of Kingston seeking a grant package from the state’s Consolidated Funding Application Program. There’s no doubt that ambitious redevelopments occurring in proximity to NYC are poised to benefit NYC, albeit in an indirect fashion. 

    Reported on in late June, the city of Kingston, located in Ulster County about 90 miles north of New York City, had been very active in seeking state grants to help fund seven different projects, including the construction of a portion of the Kingston Point Rail Trail and improvements to Academy Green. Seeking them to the tune of more than $6 million, it’s been reported. 

    One grant that had been sought was to spearhead the development of a Brownfield Opportunity Area nomination for a section of its “Midtown”; another to fund a housing needs assessment and an inventory and analysis of existing conditions of residential properties within the Rondout Waterfront BOA. 

    There’s that catalyst term again—BOA. It’s proving to be a vital catalyst to ignite rebirth for a host of communities in the greater NYC metropolitan area that include Flushing, Queens (the city secured a BOA designation in 2018—making it one of 47 BOA awardees across the state), Kingston, and Glen Cove. 

    BOA establishment provides municipalities and community-based organizations with assistance, up to 90% of the eligible project costs, to complete revitalization plans and implementation strategies for areas or communities affected by the presence of brownfield sites, and site assessments for strategic brownfield sites.

    The redevelopment scale occurring in and around New York City is a win-win for all. People visiting can opt to spend X-amount of their trip touring Manhattan, but are also free to escape to communities such as Kingston for side trips—now lured to areas that have used grant funds and BOA designations to construct amenities in their towns. 

    There continually seems to be an evolution bubbling up around BOA’s and Opportunity Zones, which is equally good news. In mid-September, Smart Growth America and the Rockefeller Foundation launched a new Opportunity Zones National Academy to help five cities harness this new tax incentive as a force for equitable growth that’s mutually beneficial for both investors and most importantly the people who live and do business in them. 

    Since 2017, Smart Growth America has been asking one question about the new Opportunity Zones tax incentive program created by Congress that’s causing trillions of dollars in new private investment to flow into 8,700-plus census tracts in communities around the country. 

    Something tells me that somewhere down the road, within the evolution of the Opportunity Zones National Academy, that entire greater New York City metropolitan area gets in on some of this action as well. 

  • 27 Aug 2019 3:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Steve Dwyer

    How important are technologies and tools to drive the decision-making process within the brownfield redevelopment realm? 

    This topic is being broached because it was reassuring to see a new online tool recently created by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), to act as a service for both public and professionals who need to navigate their way around the Empire State when it comes to their business or non-business endeavors. 

    It doesn’t appear to be any charge either for the DEC-sponsored DECinfo Locator, an interactive map that provides access to DEC documents and public data about New York’s environment and outdoor recreation resources. And while one of the intentions for DECinfo Locator is to enable the public to generate maps for a host of purposes, brownfield developers can also perceive the resource as a vehicle for making informed decisions around redevelopment plans. 

    This first-of-its-kind DEC mapping application generates results specific to locations across the state, including water and air permits, enforcement actions, recreational assets, environmental education facilities and sites in the New York state’s Superfund and Brownfield Cleanup programs.

    “DEC created this platform to make information about New York’s environment accessible to everyone,” said Commissioner Basil Seggos. “From viewing permits to searching for state land regulations, DEC’s new tool provides transparency to our work and helps New Yorkers better understand the full breadth of DEC’s work protecting the environment and our communities.”

    With more than 50 interactive data layers, DECinfo Locator lets users see and download permits, former industrial site cleanup plans, water quality reports, and more based on where they live, work, or play. Selecting a map feature can bring up links to database records for petroleum bulk storage facilities, oil wells, or permitted mines. Users can also view potential environmental justice areas and Climate Smart Communities or find out what local wastewater facilities are doing to reduce their impact on New York's waterbodies. Several information layers can be active at the same time, allowing users to see the many ways DEC is working to protect and enhance the state's environment and recreational opportunities.

    The map’s “Near Me” feature allows users to narrow data results by creating an interactive list of data points within an area of up to 10 miles from a selected point. Additional features and data will be added to the DECinfo Locator in the future.

    Overall, it behooves New York City practitioners and beyond to give a resource like DECinfo Locator a test drive to determine what kind of power it might provide in allowing you to navigate your project from point A to point B, from C to D. Because the gut intuition and other traditional consensus-building efforts, while sound, don’t always cut it alone. You have to be grateful for the new technologies like DECinfo Locator that present themselves when they do. 

  • 31 Jul 2019 10:57 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The evening of July 24, 2019 was lovely in New York City: blue sky, a light breeze and no humidity. The kind of evening that makes you want to raise a glass, chat up some old friends and meet new colleagues in a laid-back atmosphere.  That is exactly what the attendees of the scholarship fundraiser and networking event for BCONE (the Brownfield Coalition of the Northeast), NYCBP (the New York City Brownfield Partnership) and SWEP (the Society of Women Environmental Professionals) experienced at the Turnmill Bar on East 27th St. in NYC, and while enjoying themselves, they raised over $3,600 in scholarship funds to be divided equally among SWEP, NYCBP and BCONE. You can go to the NYCBP, BCONE and SWEP websites anytime and donate to the scholarship funds.

    Sponsored by 12 companies involved in all aspects of site revitalization, almost 100 registrants from CT, NJ, NY and PA enjoyed a private space, adult beverages, and some pub grub at the Turnmill.  A mix of attorneys, consultants, laboratory professionals, personnel experts, government employees, students, non-profit professionals, building managers and soil treatment and disposal facilities shared stories, some laughs and business cards.  If you missed it, try to join us in early December when we get together again to raise scholarship funds.  Look for the Save the Date in the eblasts from NYCBP, BCONE and SWEP.

    Event Photos

      

      

      

      

      

      

  • 11 Jul 2019 10:56 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By: Stephen Merrill Smith, J.D.

    In late June, the Partnership’s eblast focused on six projects in New York City that are receiving attention for their size and architectural design.

    Here is our summary of the six 2019 Big Apple Brownfield Award (BABA) winning projects, located in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. Each project is worthy of attention and praise because of their positive social and environmental impacts in their communities as well as their economic development impact.

    Presenting the awards at the Eleventh Annual BABAs were: Mari Cate Conlon of Haley & Aldrich, Inc., Michele Rogers of Blue World Construction, and Victoria Whelan of Preferred Environmental.

    The 2019 SUPPORTIVE/AFFORDABLE HOUSING AWARD was presented to the project, Reaching New Heights Residence and the Apartments at Landing Road in the Bronx. By co-developing a shelter and housing facility in one effort, Bowery Residents’ Committee achieved two goals at once. They use the surplus revenue paid by the city to operate the shelter part of the building and reinvest it by subsidizing the rents of the housing units above. This once vacant lot, which was remediated through OER’s E-Designation program, is now a lovely building that all residents are proud to call home. The development team, which is made up of Bowery Residents’ Committee, Edelman Sultan Knox Wood Architects, GZA Geo-Environmental, and Leonard J. Strandberg and Associates, created a game-changing building that combines permanent affordable housing and a shelter for the homeless all in one project.

    The 2019 BROWNFIELD OPPORTUNITY AREA (BOA) CONNECTIVITY AWARD was presented to Pitkin-Berriman’s development located in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn. Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, a 35-year-old community-based organization, transformed this formerly vacant lot into a seven-story, mixed-use building with 60 affordable housing units, a senior day center, ground floor community space, and open space comprised of a playground, gardens, and walkways. The project team, which also included Heitler Houstoun Architects, worked with the Department of City Planning to rezone the site and also worked with OER to remediate the site through their Voluntary Cleanup Program.

    The 2019 COMMUNITY OUTREACH AWARD was presented to Melrose Commons Supportive Housing – also in the Bronx. This previously abandoned property was developed into a nine-story permanent supportive housing building by The Bridge, one of NYC’s most experienced and comprehensive human services organizations. The new building’s 58 fully-furnished studio apartments house formerly homeless adults with special needs including veterans. The project team, consisting of The Bridge, Magnusson Architecture and Planning, the J. Pilla Group, A. Larovere Consulting, Sherman Law, AKRF, and Bright Power, successfully navigated OER’s E-Designation program to implement green development. This emphasis on green development earned the team an Enterprise Green Communities grant as well as Reso A funding from the Bronx Borough President.

    The 2019 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AWARD was presented to Oak Point Property – also in the Bronx. Construction of the site created more than 300 short-term jobs and more than 200 permanent jobs at the Jetro/Restaurant Depot facility and the McInnis USA 24/7 operational cement terminal. Prior to opening the commercial properties, the first round of employment opportunities were extended to the local community including many veterans who now hold living-wage jobs at the cement terminal. The shoreline greenway encompasses a portion of the Magic Mile, which is a proposed one-mile waterfront walkway with space for exercise, quiet reflection, fishing, games, historic exploration, and water activities. NYSDEC oversaw remediation of this once defunct and now thriving property. The team responsible for transforming this once illegal dumping ground includes Oak Point Property LLC, Pantheon Properties, Land Use Ecological Services, Phillip Habib & Associates, Jetro/Restaurant Depot, McInnis USA, AAL Construction Services LLC, and TRC Environmental Corporation.

    The 2019 ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AWARD was presented to Former Liberty Brass, aka the Sunnyside, located in Long Island City. Extraordinary measures were taken to remediate this vacant, former brass fitting manufacturing plant. This transformation in included the construction of a 12-story commercial building, which houses a Regal Theaters multiplex cinema, as well as 100,000 square feet of leasable office space. Plans are to lease the space to medical and non-profit tenants. The success of this project may be attributed to great communication among the project team and with NYSDEC to achieve the remedial requirements necessary to improve the environment of the site to a conditional Track 1 cleanup designation. The project team was made up of Curbcut Queens Boulevard, PW Grosser, Knauf Shaw LLP, and Sordoni Construction.

    The 2019 GREEN BUILDING AWARD was presented to 3365 Third Avenue located in the Morrisania section of the Bronx. Developed by Bronx Pro Group, this will be the Bronx’s first certified Passive House project. The new eight-story, mixed-use building, which includes 30 affordable rental units and an early childhood education center, will have an energy reduction savings up to 90% when compared to conventionally-built structures. The design and construction of the building, by Curtis + Ginsberg Architects and C&S Construction, respectively, minimized environmental impacts and embraced green alternatives, which led the building to achieve a LEED Platinum rating. In addition, AKRF oversaw remediation of the site through OER’s Voluntary Cleanup Program. In large part to the Bronx Pro Group’s commitment to transitioning the Morrisania section of the Bronx from industrial use into a mixed-use community, a once vacant lot is now a beautiful new building that will serve the neighborhood for years to come.

    If you missed the 2019 BABAs, you also missed the Partnership‘s presentation of the Distinguished Service Award to Dr. Daniel C. Walsh. Dr. Walsh played an active role in implementing the NYS 2003 Brownfield Law and launching the state Brownfield Cleanup Program. In 2008, he was appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg as founding Director of the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation. Recently retired from city work, Dr. Walsh is now working with students at Columbia University and establishing his own consulting firm to provide advisory services on land remediation and materials management.

    Patrick Foster, Regional Attorney, NYSDEC, Region 2 provided the annual NYSDEC Update and Mark McIntyre, the current Director and General Counsel of the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation followed with the NYCOER update.

    The Partnership then “paid it forward” by awarding $10,000 to seven undergraduate and graduate students pursuing environmental degrees.

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