Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto stood outside a low-income housing structure his city built on newly restored brownfields. "You know why there's a 'For Sale' sign there," he asked. "Because this is here now, and that has a lot more value. We're going to invest back into making areas that had been the centers 40, 50 years ago the center of action once again."
Peduto, alongside Congressman Mike Doyle, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Secretary John Quigley, and several other officials, had just announced $400,000 worth of grants given to the county by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part of the organization's goal to give out $54.3 million in brownfields restoration grants nationwide this year.
The money was split across two, $200,000 grants and will cover a total of 10 site assessments, most of which are located in McKeesport and Clairton.
The announcement was given at the Homewood Station Senior Apartments, a new low-income housing complex built on what's now a restored brownfield. With the EPA grants, the local and state government hope to restore similar patches of land and develop them into housing communities or business centers.
At the end of the announcement, Congressman Doyle added that "We've got a strong track record of successfully redeveloping these vacant, often polluted old industrial sites and transforming them into economic assets for our communities' future."
Brownfields are typically low enough quality land that real estate investors shy away from the, making it difficult to get the ball rolling on development. Concentrated restoration efforts, however, can turn the quality of the land around and ready them for development.
Local governments should work with environmental consultants to ensure that brownfields are revitalized properly.