Those who have read this preview of my (Storm Cunningham) upcoming third book, RECONOMICS, know that the 3Re Strategy (repurpose, renew, reconnect) has recently emerged as the most reliable universally-applicable basis for revitalizing a place.
But no matter how good a strategy one has, there’s no substitute for knowledge-based decision making. When it comes to redevelopment, assessing the environmental and economic risks of potentially-contaminated properties is one of the most crucial steps in that knowledge-building process.
As you read this, Long Beach, California-based SCS Engineers—an environmental consulting firm—is helping the city of Norfolk, Virginia prepare to revitalize four neighborhoods in their downtown, and in their coastal areas along the Elizabeth River.
“Our SCS team is supporting the City of Norfolk to spur a green, resilient, mixed-use transit-oriented development,” stated Keith Matteson, the project director at SCS.
The contracts obtained by SCS have it doing environmental assessments, with funding for the projects from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Program.
The EPA selected the City of Norfolk for two brownfields assessment grants. The community-wide hazardous substances grant of $200,000 is for conducting six Phase I and seven Phase II environmental site assessments. A community-wide petroleum grant of $100,000 will fund four Phase I and four Phase II environmental site assessments related explicitly to petroleum clean up.
SCS’s environmental assessments focus on 218 acres in the downtown and coastal areas including East Downtown/Harbor Park, Tidewater Gardens/St. Paul’s Quadrant, Fort Norfolk and surrounding Ghent Neighborhood area, and the South Elizabeth River Waterfront.
The City has been developing an area-wide plan and implementation strategy with the community and other stakeholders to revitalize the area by improving the infrastructure, setting the stage for greater economic, environmental and social prosperity.
To accomplish the plan, SCS Engineers will perform environmental assessments on the properties. The assessments are necessary to protect human and ecological health, which allows for future expansion, redevelopment, or reuse.
Improving the infrastructure could be complicated by the potential presence of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contamination in long-established areas, and especially if they were previously industrial sites.
Photo of the Norfolk waterfront courtesy of the City of Norfolk.