By David Southgate, October 21, 2018
The magnificent venue for the NJ Brownfield Interagency Working Group’s “Accelerate Land Reuse for Community Revitalization” was the 90-acre former landfill that has been transformed into the Salvation Army Kroc Center in Camden, New Jersey. The workshop included technical, legal, environmental, as well as federal, state, city, and private developer perspectives on land reuse and revitalization. The goal of the collaborative meeting was to assist municipal and county officials with vital tools to understand how to recycle contaminated sites for community wellbeing and sustainable development.
Representing Camden Mayor Frank Moran, Jim Harveson, Director of the Camden Economic Development Agency stated that the Kroc Center and the adjacent waterfront park represented the very soul of what Camden’s brownfields program is all about. The City has been able to leverage $130 million in public and private funds to “convert the burden of the community to address the health, recreation and spiritual needs of Camden and the surrounding communities.” He added that the remaining 62 acres now being cleaned up will be a fishing pond, a kayak launch, and feature beautiful views of the Philadelphia skyline. Brownfields redevelopment is about taking environmental liabilities, giving them a community vision, and marching forward to revitalized communities, jobs and new open spaces.
Colleen Kokas, representing the real estate and development sector with Environmental Liability Transfer, moderated the first morning panel, Lightning Rounds: Ask the Expert. The panel featured a cadre of experts that included Wanda Monahan of the Law Office of Wanda Chin Monahan, Leah Yasenchak of BRS Inc., Charleen Drake of Langan, and Louis Bezich of Cooper University Health Care.
The panelists emphasized the need to think comprehensively about brownfields redevelopment, considering not only the environmental liability, community involvement and the vision for site redevelopment, but also the tax implications, infrastructure requirements, traffic circulation, zoning issues, and how to raise funds for the plan and development. “It’s really important to understand the total impact of the project and communicate to the community the value proposition of the project,” said Louis Bezich. “Be very transparent and control the narrative of the project.”
CCLR’s senior advisor David Southgate moderated the “Show Me the Money” panel, highlighting lessons from funding partners who can help with early exploration and site identification, cleanup, water infrastructure and vertical buildout.
“The most important driver of these projects is municipal participation,” said panelist Patrick Terborg, principle at TD + Partners. “Without the full support of a municipality, where you can actually have an open transparent discussion about making a project feasible, including zoning enhancements and approvals timing, these projects don’t happen.”
Also on the morning’s second panel were Michael Deely of NJ Department of Environmental Protection, David Zimmer of the NJ Infrastructure Bank, Paul Ceppi with NJ Economic Development Administration, and Schenine Mitchell from EPA Region 2’s Office of Brownfields. Grant solicitation for EPA Multipurpose, Assessment and Clean-up grants is expected to be released in mid-to late November. NJ EDA also announced a second round of Innovation Challenge, with an expected release for early November. The new grant program is aimed at helping municipalities to redevelop “ghost malls” and underutilized commercial properties.
A working lunch with Office Hour Consultations included all the panelists as well as NJ Redevelopment Authority, NJ Department Community Affairs, NJ Department of Transportation, NJ State Council on the Arts, U.S. Economic Development Administration, and the NJ Department of State- Business Action Center.
Chris Hager, a Senior Vice President at Langan, the workshop sponsor, gave a moving tribute to George Kelley, Langan’s Managing Partner and Chairman of the Board who supported Camden’s redevelopment. This program was organized by the NJ Brownfiellds Interagency Working Group.
“Accelerate Land Reuse for Community Revitalization” Camden Program Book
Center for Creative Land Recycling: Guide to the Federal and New Jersey Agencies
ANJEC: Remediating and Redeveloping Brownfields in New Jersey
New Jersey State Council on the Arts: Public Art Creative Placemaking and Trifold Artist Services
Jean Hamerman | Center for Creative Land Recycling
Ask the Expert panel:
Colleen Kokas | Environmental Liability Transfer
Wanda Monahan | Law Office of Wanda Chin Monahan
Leah Yasenchak | BRS Inc
Charlene Drake | Langan
Louis Bezich | Cooper University Health Care
Show Me the Money panel:
Michael Deely | NJ Department of Environmental Protection
Schenine Mitchell | U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
David Zimmer | NJ Infrastructure Bank
Paul Ceppi | NJ Economic Development Authority
Patrick Terborg | TD+ Partners
Chris Hager | Langan