Volume 06-3 ~ Fall 2006
John B. Carnahan
Other sites of Interest
Previous Issues of DEC's Brownfield Bulletin
DEC values the recycling of contaminated properties, and has developed our Brownfield Program as a part of the Contaminated Sites Program's “Reuse and Redevelopment Initiative.” DEC would like to welcome you to our Fall 2006 newsletter. This quarterly web-based publication highlights brownfield developments and opportunities in our great state.
"Though often perceived -- first and foremost -- as an environmental problem, brownfields are almost universally seen as a barrier to community revitalization. For this reason, brownfields redevelopment is part of an entire community development process from community planning to reuse." (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Brownfields Forum)
Special Note: The proposal guidelines for the 2007 Brownfields Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grants are now posted at:
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ASTM Training on Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments Coming in November
ASTM International has scheduled a training titled "Phase I & Phase II Environmental Site Assessments for Commercial Real Estate" in Anchorage on November 7–9, 2006, at the Coast International Inn. This course is being offered at a reduced rate of $895 for three days of training; the usual cost for this training is $1,095.
ASTM-equivalent Phase I environmental site assessments (ESAs) are routinely required by lenders, buyers, and federal funding programs targeted at brownfield redevelopment projects. Phase I ESAs may be necessary for obtaining property insurance, can help a seller evaluate sale potential, may help avoid delays and restrictions on property transactions, and are critical to liability defenses under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).
Representatives from DEC will participate in these classes to discuss how the ASTM standards relate to regulatory requirements in Alaska. This training will also highlight the EPA Final Rule for All Appropriate Inquiry under the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act, which resulted in changes to the Phase I ESA process.
The following is a brief overview of the main features of the two types of ESAs:
Phase I: A Phase I ESA (ASTM Phase I ESA Standard E1527-05) is a systematic evaluation of a property, often funded by a potential buyer or seller, to determine whether hazardous substances or petroleum products have been disposed or released there. The Phase I generally consists of a review of public records, interviews with current and previous owners, and a site visit to determine if obvious potential environmental problems exist at or near the site.
Phase II: A Phase II ESA (ASTM Standard E1903-97) is a further assessment of a property that has previously been determined to have a recognized environmental condition through a Phase I ESA or other screening process. It generally includes the collection and analysis of air, soil, groundwater, surface water, or sediment samples from the site to determine the presence or absence of contamination. The Phase II is also designed to provide enough information about the nature and extent of contamination so that reasoned and informed business decisions can be made about the property.
Scott Murphy, Director, Education Services
DEC Brownfield Assessments Spur Neighborhood Revitalization in Mountain View
by Brian Shelton-Kelley, Anchorage Community Land Trust
In the summer of 2005, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) conducted an area-wide DEC Brownfield Assessment (DBA) of the Mountain View neighborhood in Anchorage. This assessment was requested by the Municipality of Anchorage (MOA) in order to better understand any environmental conditions that may be present in the area. Such conditions, if found, would need to be considered in the MOA's plans for redevelopment of the area into the proposed new "Mountain View Arts and Cultural District." This area-wide assessment led to additional site-specific DBAs, which were requested by both the MOA and the Anchorage Community Land Trust (ACLT), to focus on properties that had been targeted for acquisition and redevelopment projects as part of the overall Mountain View revitalization effort.
The area-wide DBA completed in June 2005 is a key element used by the ACLT and our redevelopment partners, including the MOA, the Anchorage Community Development Authority (ACDA), the Cook Inlet Housing Authority, Habitat for Humanity, and the Cook Inlet Tribal Council, when evaluating possible sites for redevelopment. Lenders have used the assessment to gauge the risks present in the area, and consultants have commented that this document is very useful and that any revitalization effort should have such a wide-scale environmental assessment. Each of the properties described below was included in the area-wide assessment, and then became the subject of its own focused DBA.
3901 Mountain View Drive – Color Creek Fiber Art Studios
A former gas station and auto shop most recently used as a warehouse, the building located at 3901 Mountain View was purchased by ACLT and has since been reborn as an arts studio. The facility is used by a fabric and textile artist and a print and frame maker. Located on the main corner of North Bragaw and Mountain View Drive, this building houses the first arts-based activity of the emerging Mountain View Arts and Cultural District. Because of past uses, this site had the potential for contamination; however, no significant environmental concerns were noted in the assessment, and ACLT moved ahead with the building’s “new life.” The near-term plan for the site is to continue to house various artists and studios, perhaps adding a café and community resource space. Long term, ACLT would like to redevelop the property into mixed-income housing, retail space, and a renovation of the Alaska Museum of Natural History, which is now located next door.
3142 Mountain View Drive – Carey Property
Since acquisition by ACLT in the fall of 2005, this property, formerly a store and warehouse selling parts for and servicing RVs, trailers, and mobile homes, has become a hive of community activity. ACLT acquired this site using a Community Development Block Grant from the MOA, which requires environmental assessment before purchase. The ACLT is grateful that DEC was able to target this property, because the assessment enabled ACLT to obtain the grant funds to purchase the building and put it back into productive use. The building is now home to the offices of ACLT, the Mountain View Weed and Seed program, a Department of Justice crime prevention and reduction program, and the Mountain View Arts and Cultural District Association and Neighborhood Planning office. The general contractor and developer of the $40-million “Glenn Square” retail development has their project office in the building. A metal sculpture artist and a woodworker and cooper specializing in making hot tubs and saunas rent studios and work space. The Alaska Theatre of Youth, Anchorage Opera, and other performing-arts groups have near-continuous set construction going on, and "Enviro-Beat," a music group that makes percussion instruments out of scrap metal, practices in the building. Most recently, an art gallery has opened and has hosted two shows highlighting local artists. Many community groups use the ACLT conference room for meetings, workshops, and other events. Despite road construction limiting access, there is always something happening here! ACLT is evaluating its options for the long-term use of the property, but for the foreseeable future it will continue to host a wide variety of uses.
John’s Motel and RV Park
ACLT has continued to operate this motel and RV business, which is one of the oldest in the neighborhood. A strategic site on Mountain View Drive, this operation employs several local residents. The summer months are busy, with “no-vacancy” being the norm, and this activity has prompted an adjacent business owner to open a new fast food stop. ACLT is looking to consolidate the surrounding properties to redevelop the entire block of this key section of Mountain View Drive. The previous, long-term owner's heavy automotive use led ACLT and others to suspect potential contamination, yet the site remained strategically crucial. Determined to purchase the property, ACLT applied for, and was awarded, a DBA in the 2005-2006 round of assessments. DEC assistance has been fundamental to ACLT's due-diligence and site-acquisition strategies during this early phase of neighborhood revitalization in Mountain View.
Wilhour Trust Property
One of the first properties acquired by ACLT, the Wilhour Trust property is located near the Glenn Square development, on the lower section of Mountain View Drive. Because ACLT has decided to focus its redevelopment efforts on the upper section, the neighborhood business district, of Mountain View Drive, ACLT recently sold this site to ACDA, which has the capacity to redevelop this site in the near future. In an innovative and complex land trade, ACLT traded this property for the John’s Motel and RV site and cash, which ACLT can now use to further its mission of neighborhood revitalization. Historic use by an auto and machine shop, a film processor, and photo studio, and at least one former underground fuel storage tank, this property was potentially contaminated. It was assessed, along with the Warner property next door, in 2006 through a DBA. The findings revealed that, despite the historic uses of the property, no significant evidence of contamination was found in the records or site reconnaissance; but future soil testing is warranted. ACDA has begun planning for the site and great things are expected in the near future.
Warner Trust Property
Acquired with the Wilhour Trust property in 2004, this property housed Special Olympics Alaska while they were building their new headquarters and training center, also located in Mountain View. With that project complete, and Special Olympics now permanently housed in their new facility, ACLT is working, in line with the new focus on the upper section of Mountain View Drive, to sell this property to ACDA, so they can develop the site with the Wilhour property. Both the Wilhour and Warner properties are subject to certain development restrictions so that any new project will feature pedestrian amenities, good design, and community space. ACLT expects to close on this transaction in late fall 2006.
See the next quarterly issue of the DEC Brownfield Bulletin for more stories on the 2005-2006 DBAs, including the proposed Millennium Square development in Kenai and Saint George Island's five historic buildings, which were part of the historic Russian-American fur seal trade.
Brian Shelton-Kelley: email@example.com
Sonja Benson: Sonja.Benson@alaska.gov
DEC Brownfield Assessments in the Works for 2006-2007
DEC received several applications in response to our solicitation for brownfield sites for this year’s round of DEC Brownfield Assessments (DBAs). Some of these are still pending evaluation. We are currently preparing to launch projects at the following sites:
See the next article for more detail about canneries, a special category of Alaskan brownfields.
Sonja Benson: Sonja.Benson@alaska.gov
Special Focus: Old Alaskan Canneries are Ripe for Brownfield Redevelopment
Commercial fishing came to Alaska in the late 1800s, employing thousands of people along the coast of the state, and leading to the rise of many small communities associated with the new fisheries. Now, because of changes in the industry, many salteries, canneries, herring reduction plants, and even small towns built in remote areas lie abandoned and in ruin. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 134 canneries were built between 1878 and 1949 in Southeast Alaska alone; 70 of these are known to have burned, 10 were moved, and others were consolidated. Although some of these facilities have been destroyed and others are slowly decaying, a strong interest remains in preserving this colorful chapter in Alaska’s history. DEC’s Brownfield Program may be the first step in helping coastal communities achieve this goal.
With abandoned facilities in a redevelopment project it is critical to understand any potential environmental concerns. DEC Brownfield Assessments (DBAs) focus on identifying environmental conditions that may be associated with these types of properties. Such conditions are often seen as hindrances or even road blocks to preservation or redevelopment. Possible problems that might be encountered include tank farms, fuel or chemical storage areas, septic systems and injection wells, equipment repair bays, heating oil tanks, and dumpsites. The buildings themselves may have lead paint or asbestos-containing materials. Even old light fixtures with PCB-bearing ballasts may warrant attention.
The Chignik Lagoon Native Corporation has requested DEC’s assistance through a DBA of several properties associated with the former Wards Cove Packing Company cannery, including a dumpsite that was used during the cannery operations. They believe that the redevelopment potential of this area is very high, since the Chignik fishery is one of the richest in the state. In addition to the potential for reestablishing the cannery for fish processing, the community is interested in developing several properties for seasonal recreational activities. For tourists seeking a location to enjoy Alaska and its outdoor opportunities, Chignik Lagoon has much to offer. This DBA will be the first step in an environmental analysis and redevelopment plan for the area. The Chignik Lagoon Native Corporation is supported in this effort by the Bristol Bay Native Association and the Lake and Peninsula Borough.
The City of Pilot Point is a commercial salmon fishing community and was formed around the construction of the Alaska Packers Cannery. Pilot Point requested DEC’s assistance in helping them assess the original cannery, which was built in 1891. The cannery ceased operations in the 1950s and was transferred to the city about 15 years ago. The age of the facility and the weathering there have escalated the deterioration process, leading to rusted roofs and rotting floors. The city uses part of one warehouse for equipment maintenance and storage.
But the community has other plans—they have already renovated one end of the main building for equipment bays, and are working with the Pilot Point Tribal Council to determine the best course of action to renovate the buildings into a museum and visitor's center to provide an attraction for tourists. They have also identified another building to be restored into a metalsmithing and woodworking shop for the community. Many of the original salmon canneries in Alaska have either burned or been torn down. Pilot Point believes it's important that not all of these historic structures are neglected until it is too late.
DEC will help Pilot Point plan to manage several known environmental concerns and attempt to identify any unforeseen issues that could impede their development plans. Asbestos insulation and lead-based paint are known to exist; both require special handling when restoring the facility, but the extent and cost is unknown. Additionally, a fuel-storage tank farm with known releases to the ground has not yet been investigated.
Former canneries are a classic Alaskan category of brownfields. DEC’s brownfield staff looks forward to working with Chignik Lagoon, Pilot Point, and others in the future. If you think in terms of “reuse and redevelopment,” you will find many more brownfields around you than you realized.
John Carnahan: John.Carnahan@alaska.gov
Join the Revolution in Redevelopment and Revitalization!
The 11th Annual National Brownfields Conference will be held in Boston, November 13-15, 2006. This year's meeting title is "Brownfields 2006: A Revolution in Redevelopment and Revitalization." The Town Meeting Plenary, to be held Tuesday, November 14, "Rebuilding a Sense of Place," will be hosted by Ray Suarez, of PBS's The News Hour with Jim Lehrer. This year's conference will be greener than ever; the organizers have added many features to promote conservation and sustainability by encouraging participants to use mass transit, using recycled and recyclable materials, and hosting electronic (paperless) registration and reservations through the conference registration and travel desks. Registration is free. For more information on the schedule of special events and educational programs, check out the conference website: www.brownfields2006.org.
We apologize for misspelling the name of Mr. Gabriel Takak, Sr., of Shaktoolik, in our last newsletter. Please accept our apologies, Mr. Takak.
This DEC Brownfield Bulletin is meant as a simple means for brownfield-related issues to be disseminated across the state to those interested in brownfield developments. Please feel free to forward this to anyone you believe would be interested. If you have issues or stories that you would like to submit, please send them to us and we will incorporate them on your behalf. If you would like to have your name removed from this distribution, simply email us and it will be done!