In 2003, brownfield tax credits (“BTCs”) were created as part of the 2003 Brownfield Law. Because BTCs are very different from low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs), there has been confusion in the community development industry as to how BTCs can be applied, and how BTCs work on projects, which also involve LIHTCs. Adding to the confusion is the fact that the practical implementation of BTCs is continuing to evolve as the statute that created the BTCs was passed in 2003, but significantly changed in 2006 and again in July 2008.
According to Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC, there are 7,600 acres of brownfield sites in the City’s five boroughs. (Brownfields are properties with actual or suspected contamination from past industrial uses, historic fill or illegal dumping which impedes their re-use). With the dwindling portfolio of developable land, brownfields constitute a critical resource to address the City’s pressing need for more affordable housing, jobs, educational and community facilities, waterfront access and open space.
What made New York’s brownfields debate so complicated and prolonged is the fact that brownfields pose a number of problems that go beyond the well known and difficult environmental issues surrounding the cleanup of toxic chemicals. Creating a cleanup program was the necessary starting point, but it was also important to build into the program elements that would attract participation.
Nearly a decade in the making, the State’s 2003 Brownfield Law is packed with new ideas and a serious financial commitment to revitalizing communities through brownfields reclamation. The law is designed to get New York going again on the important work of making polluted lands safe for our families, protecting our water, and rebuilding older urban neighborhoods while conserving outlying greenfields.