Puerto Rico revitalization plan = Brownfields + infrastructure renewal + eco-industries

The Roadmap to Redevelopment for Puerto Rico is a product of the CDFA Brownfields Technical Assistance Program, which is funded through a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

This report provides a framework for financing the cleanup and redevelopment of Puerto Rico’s 127 Corridor, based on the provided Eco-Industrial Zone master plan. Specifically, the CDFA team focused on providing suggestions for financing improvements to water/sewer, roadway, and electrical infrastructure to accommodate future eco-industrial users.

Roadways throughout the PR 127 Corridor include both short and long distance (cross island roads). Highway PR2 runs just north of the Corridor and connects the region to San Juan. PR 2 is also the only major access road connecting the Corridor to the western region of the island, and it floods during heavy rains, making it impassable. The other roadways throughout PR 127 are narrow and not designed to support heavy industrial traffic, yet large semi-trucks frequently pass through residential areas to pick up and deliver goods. Roadways are in need of repair and include no amenities for pedestrians, such as crosswalks or sidewalks. There are twelve bridges in the Corridor, most requiring significant restoration to be considered safe.

This report includes general suggestions on how to manage information regarding existing conditions and needed improvements. Such information is critical in understanding the opportunities and challenges of the PR127 Corridor. First and foremost, environmental assessments must be completed throughout the Corridor. Some properties may require minimal amounts of remediation and could be ready for redevelopment with relatively little effort. Other properties may need significant remediation and interested developers will require an understanding of the time and cost requirements of completing cleanup. Phase II Assessments will provide this critical information.

Equally important to developers and investors is understanding what infrastructure assets (water/sewer, roadway, and electrical) exist and what, if any, improvements are needed and/or planned. As the report discusses, investment interest in the PR 127 Corridor is very promising, but significant improvements are needed to provide future users with adequate electrical power, water/sewer service, and transportation. The extent and process for these improvements has not been determined. Planning for these improvements must begin by clearly mapping existing infrastructure assets.

Suggestions related to financing the needed improvements include use of federal program funds (e.g. EPA, appropriated Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Relief Funds) to catalyze investment. Traditional development finance tools including bonds, revolving loan funds, and public-private partnerships are also suggested as important components in assembling the capital to fund improvements.

Efforts to attract private capital to the Corridor should include the use of tax credits and incentives. The PR 127 Corridor can be transformed into the Eco-Industrial Zone through organized leadership and a combination of many (or all) of the tools described herein.

The CDFA Brownfields Technical Assistance Program provides technical assistance to brownfields communities on redevelopment finance. For communities that require detailed, hands-on assistance for their redevelopment efforts, CDFA Brownfields Project Response Teams comprises CDFA staff and technical assistance partners are available to conduct site visits and offer financing strategies.

The goal of these visits is to provide communities with specific, actionable steps that can transform brownfields into economically-productive sites in accordance with the goals and plans of the community. CDFA will coordinate 36 Brownfields Project Response Teams over the life of the program.

The Roadmap to Redevelopment was developed through a multi-day process that included interviews with numerous stakeholders from the government, business, and non-profit sectors. The strategies provided are based on the input of development finance experts, CDFA staff, and the interests of stakeholder groups gathered during the Project Response Team site visit.

Photo via Adobe Stock.

See CDFA’s Roadmap to Redevelopment for Puerto Rico (PDF).

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