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Posted on: May 6, 2020

City of Pueblo (Colo.) Receives $300K to Assess and Revitalize Downtown Properties

News Flash

Funds to support environmental assessment and redevelopment opportunities at several locations, including downtown and riverfront properties

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the City of Pueblo, Colo., will receive $300,000 Brownfields grant to assess and revitalize properties in the city’s downtown and riverfront areas. The City is among 151 communities across the nation receiving over $65.6 million in EPA Brownfields funding through our Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grant programs. Under President Trump’s Administration, EPA has delivered approximately $287 million in Brownfields grants directly to communities and nonprofits for cleanup and redevelopment, job creation, and economic development through the award of over 948 grants.

The City of Pueblo will use the EPA Brownfields Assessment grant to inventory and prioritize brownfield sites and conduct 18 Phase I and five Phase II environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to develop four cleanup plans and support community outreach activities. Assessment activities will focus on Pueblo’s downtown and riverfront areas, which are both within a Qualified Opportunity Zone. Priority sites include a decommissioned power plant, former railroad and coal yards, a filling station, and a motor freight station.

“The City of Pueblo has made great strides in redeveloping and transforming its downtown and riverfront areas,” said EPA Regional Administrator Gregory Sopkin. “These EPA Brownfields funds will help the City and community leaders build upon those successes at properties identified as priorities for investment and revitalization.”

“This grant is certainly welcome news in an uncertain and difficult time,” said Senator Michael Bennet. “The City of Pueblo will now have necessary funding to help assess, clean up, and revitalize its historic downtown. This is a smart and thoughtful redevelopment project that will create more opportunity for Coloradans to live and work in a newly vibrant downtown Pueblo.”

“As a fifth-generation Coloradan who grew up in a rural town out on the Eastern Plains, I know how important it is to attract investment and growth to local communities,” said Senator Cory Gardner. “This funding is welcome news for Pueblo’s downtown and riverfront areas, especially with the economic challenge posed by the coronavirus. I applaud this investment to help improve Pueblo neighborhoods located in Opportunity Zones, established through the 2017 reform of the tax code, and to assess and clean up abandoned industrial and commercial properties. I will continue to support policies at the federal level that allow every corner of Colorado to thrive.”

“Pueblo has done a tremendous job over the last couple decades revitalizing several neighborhoods and creating a more business-friendly environment,” said Congressman Scott Tipton. “I am glad the EPA has chosen Pueblo as a recipient of this grant, and I look forward to seeing continued collaboration between the federal government and the city of Pueblo as we all work to support this vibrant community.”

“We are thrilled to be awarded this grant which will greatly assist us in redeveloping the core of our city,” said Pueblo Mayor Nick Gradisar. “This will help us remove one of the impediments to creating a vital downtown area with additional commercial and residential uses.“

Nationwide, this year, the agency is announcing the selection of 155 grants for communities and tribes totaling over $65.6 million in EPA Brownfields funding the agency’s Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grant Programs. These funds will aid under-served and economically disadvantaged communities, including neighborhoods located in Opportunity Zones, in assessing and cleaning up abandoned industrial and commercial properties. An Opportunity Zone is an economically-distressed community where new investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment. Of the 151 total communities selected, 118 of these communities can potentially assess or clean up brownfield sites in census tracts designated in these zones. In addition, nearly 30% of the communities selected today will receive brownfields funding for the first time.

Grants awarded by EPA’s Brownfields program provide communities across the country with an opportunity to transform contaminated sites into community assets that attract jobs and achieve broader economic development outcomes, while taking advantage of existing infrastructure. For example, brownfields grants are shown to:

  • Increase Local Tax Revenue: A study of 48 brownfields sites found that an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional local tax revenue was generated in a single year after cleanup. This is two to seven times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of these sites.

  • Increase Residential Property Values: Another study found that property values of homes near revitalized brownfields sites increased between 5% and 15% following cleanup.

    Background
    A brownfield is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. There are estimated to be more than 450,000 brownfields in the United States. EPA’s Brownfields program began in 1995 and has provided nearly $1.6 billion in brownfield grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return blighted properties to productive reuse. To date, brownfields investments have leveraged more than $31 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. Over the years, the relatively small investment of federal funding, from both public and private sources, leveraged more than 160,000 jobs.

    The next National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on April 26-30, 2021, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Offered every two years, this conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing former commercial and industrial properties. EPA co-sponsors this event with the International City/County Management Association.
    List of the FY 2020 applicants selected for funding: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy-2020-brownfields-assessment-revolving-loan-fund-and-cleanup-0
    For more on the Brownfields grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-brownfields-grant-funding
    For more on EPA’s Brownfields program: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields
    For more information about EPA’s role in Opportunity Zones: https://www.epa.gov/opportunity-zones
    For information on the studies related to the Brownfields program’s environmental and economic benefits: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-program-environmental-and-economic-benefits

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