Brownfield redevelopments can provide developers with financially successful project opportunities on small-town main streets, in industrial districts and in urban core areas while providing many benefits to a community, including increased tax base, new housing and jobs, reuse of existing infrastructure, removal of blight, and reduced environmental threats.

Brownfields come in many sizes, shapes and forms – industrial sites, shopping malls (dry cleaners), gasoline stations, marinas, auto repair shops, golf courses, and many more – all having one thing in common – concerns over environmental contamination. SME’s Brownfield Redevelopment Team has spent the last 20 years helping owners, developers and communities successfully turn abandoned and underused brownfields into new manufacturing plants, mixed-use office/retail/residential buildings, microbreweries, single family neighborhoods, schools, parks and recreational facilities. We have supported over $1.3 billion in brownfield redevelopment projects and have acquired and managed over $150 million in funding and other incentives to make them successful.

Our breadth of environmental, geotechnical and construction services and our 50 years experience serving the development/redevelopment market make SME the ideal partner from the beginning of the project, because we understand the pieces and how they need to fit together. Successful brownfield redevelopment begins with the right kind of up-front environmental due diligence, which focuses not only on liability management, but also identifying environmental and constructability issues that will impact development, and strategies for addressing them. After further assessing the environmental challenges for a redevelopment project, we work with the project team to develop the optimum cleanup and exposure mitigation approaches, consistent with federal and state regulatory programs and project goals and design, to make the project economically feasible. If your project involves rehabilitation of a building, we also offer hazardous materials assessment and management, property condition assessment, and a host of building materials management services. And we routinely facilitate public-private partnerships with local and state governments to secure and apply available funding and other incentives to offset many of the extra costs of redeveloping a brownfield.

Brownfield redevelopment is economically and environmentally important to local and state units of government and their citizens. SME’s Brownfield Redevelopment Team can help communities put brownfield redevelopment tools in their economic redevelopment toolbox, and then help them use those tools effectively. We have secured over $50 million in federal and state brownfield grants for over 50 units of government. We also have helped build public-private partnerships in over 50 cities, towns, villages, and counties to successfully acquire and use brownfield grants and loans, tax increment financing, brownfield and historic tax credits, and other incentives to market and redevelopment large and small brownfield sites, and everything in between.

Learn About Our Other Brownfield Redevelopment Services:

Community Development

Brownfields can be tough sites to get redeveloped, but SME’s experts can help communities acquire and effectively use brownfield redevelopment funding to incentivize public-private redevelopment partnerships that can accomplish the task. 

For over 20 years, SME and its Brownfield Team of experts have worked with small towns, large cities, counties, regional development authorities and state agencies to encourage and support redevelopment of brownfield sites. SME assists public sector clients in organizing and managing their brownfield programs and economic development toolboxes to attract successful redevelopment projects to local brownfield sites.  

Financial Incentives

Redeveloping brownfields costs more, so to attract development, communities need to expand their economic development toolbox to include brownfield incentives to help developers offset those costs and make the project financially viable. SME has worked with over 50 units of government and economic development agencies to build and finance their brownfields programs and reap the benefits of over $1.3 billion in successful redevelopment projects.

SME has helped its clients develop and market a cumulative brownfield redevelopment resource pool of over $150 million to pay for the extra redevelopment costs of environmental due diligence, contamination investigations, exposure mitigation, contamination cleanup, asbestos and lead paint assessment and abatement, demolition and site preparation. We have successfully acquired and used over $43 million in USEPA Brownfields Redevelopment Assessment, Cleanup and Revolving Loan Fund Grants, millions in other federal grants and state brownfield grants and loans, and over $100 million in local and state tax increment financing and state and federal tax credits to stimulate successful developments. And we know how to assemble the right funding package and creatively use the money to get the biggest bang for each project.

Public-Private Partnerships

Most successful brownfield redevelopment projects are the beneficiaries of successful public-private partnerships (P3). Public support in the form of brownfields funding and community outreach helps private development be successful, which in turn benefits the community through increased tax revenues, jobs, residential opportunity, and blight and environmental threat elimination, among other things. SME is in a unique position to help nurture and support successful P3 projects. We have supported development/redevelopment projects from the ground up for 50 years, so we really understand the needs and limitations of developers and their projects. Add that to our extensive experience supporting public sector economic development, brownfield financing and community outreach, and we become the ideal partner to help both parties in the P3 relationship work together for success.

SME can further support P3 programs through marketing, community outreach and education. We can help design effective brownfield web sites, printed materials and educational presentations and seminars to market the community and its brownfield program and sites. These same efforts can also be focused on engaging the public and raising their awareness.

Site Acquisition and Redevelopment

To successfully redevelop a brownfield, you need SME to help deal with the elephants in the room: environmental liability, environmental contamination, hazardous materials in buildings, regulatory-compliant safe use, and extra costs.  

SME offers an integrated approach to clients during the acquisition, planning, design and construction phases of brownfield site redevelopment. We have extended our passion for restoring the environment to safely and sustainably transforming unproductive properties into economic assets. We begin each project by striving to first understand our client’s overall project goals and objectives, and the site conditions, then collaboratively develop strategies and plans for safe property acquisition, construction and use and for securing vital financial incentives.

Site and Building Conditions

In brownfield redevelopment, understanding site and building conditions is a critical early step to support mitigation of environmental liability, identification of site environmental impact and hazardous materials threats in building, development of approaches for ensuring safe site use, and understanding the resulting economic impact on the development. SME’s Brownfield Team can design the optimum environmental due diligence program  for each project, having supported thousands of property transactions over the last 25 years. Our added value comes from not just conducting cookie-cutter assessments, but knowing how to get the right data at the right time from assessments customized for each site, each environmental issue, each development plan and each project stage. And that doesn’t apply only to site conditions, but also to assessment of hazardous materials, such as asbestos-containing materials, lead-bearing paint, PCBs, mercury-containing electrical equipment and other hazardous materials that impact demolition or rehabilitation and reuse of buildings.

Financial Incentives

Another important early step in brownfield redevelopment is identification and acquisition of financial incentives to help pay for the extra costs of developing a formerly-used property and add to the developer’s capital stack. Can the SME brownfield experts help? Definitely! In the past 20 years, we have helped identify, secure and apply over $150 million in federal and state brownfield redevelopment grants and loans, tax increment financing, and brownfield and historic tax credits for redevelopment projects. We know how to identify available sources, determine eligible expenses, compile necessary project financial information, and prepare successful applications and work plans to get the money. 

Safe Reuse Approaches

If environmental contamination on the site, or hazardous materials in the building, is a challenge for your development, SME can help you overcome it – practically and economically. Our 50 years of experience combining environmental, geotechnical and building materials expertise means we don’t look at environmental issues in isolation. Whether maximizing the location of development elements, incorporating exposure barriers into site design, cleaning up contamination, or abating hazardous material exposures, we know how to create solutions that fit the project design, site conditions, construction plans and schedules, and budget.

Determining how to safely reuse a brownfield, in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, can be a complex undertaking, one the SME Brownfields Team has done successfully time after time; for example – transforming dry cleaner to restaurant, gas station to bank branch, paper mill to residential neighborhood, and manufacturing plant to multi-use development. It starts with an understanding of the development, and proceeds with an investigation of site conditions and/or assessment of building conditions. The SME team, with its extensive brownfield redevelopment and construction support experience, is exceptionally qualified to design assessments that are laser-focused on collecting only the information needed to identify the challenges and develop the best possible solutions, while minimizing risks of future liabilities for the developer/owner.

Our unique combination of brownfield redevelopment, site remediation, hazardous materials abatement, and construction support experience means we can quickly and effectively identify the optimum solutions for site contamination and hazardous materials issues that may impede your development, solutions that fit with development plans and comply with application regulations. To the extent feasible, we focus on exposure control approaches, such as vapor intrusion and direct contact barriers, instead of cleanup because they often can be incorporated into the project design, are more cost-effective, and offer less schedule impact. If cleanup is required, SME’s Remediation Team can call on its experience with many remediation techniques to design the best one for the site and development.

Hazardous Materials During Redevelopment

Most brownfield redevelopment projects will generate materials, such as excess soil, dewatering effluent, and asbestos-containing and PCB-contaminated materials, that must be properly managed to prevent environmental impact and comply with environmental laws and regulations. The SME Brownfield Team can quickly and easily help you determine the optimum approach, whether on-site reuse or proper off-site disposal.

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Daniel R. Cassidy, CPG

Vice President
Environmental Services

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