Our community has many viable but vacant buildings in its downtown. It is possible that the owners of these buildings are asking too high a rent or purchase price, but we are concerned that perceived site impairments may be a factor. How do we validate this argument and how can we improve the situation?
First, you should determine if the owner is in fact asking too much. This can only be confirmed by comparing the asking price with comparable buildings in the area. If the rent or purchase price is on par with similar properties, then a perception that the property is contaminated (valid or not) may be hindering the reuse of the property, and thus it is a brownfield.
Second, determine if the perception of the property as impaired is valid. Assuming that the building is in good condition, there may be a perception that the property is impaired by other factors, such as location in an industrial area or potential exposure or release of toxic substances. If this is the case, local governments can obtain technical or financial assistance from the US Environmental Protection Agency, or their state partners, to conduct environmental site assessments. A site assessment can establish the type and extent of contamination on the site, if any; knowing this information can give potential owners the confidence to purchase the property. Please contact your state environmental protection office, the EPA regional office or CCLR for more information. You can visit CCLR’s resource pages for contact information in your state.