Initiated in 2003, New York’s Brownfield Opportunity Areas (BOA) program supports community-based master planning to encourage brownfield redevelopment in poorer communities and communities of color that lack the economic vitality to attract catalytic investment, even when significant site-specific incentives are available. This report is the most comprehensive analysis of the BOA program and its effectiveness in meeting program goals.
Over 50 people participated in NPCR’s December 2, 2015 Roundtable: “Revising, Reforming & Strengthening the BOA Program,” including community representatives, State and municipal officials, developers, consultants, planners, and BOA practitioners. The discussion took place in the context of the Summit’s larger theme: Facing the Challenges of Implementing a Community Plan.
On January 21, Governor Andrew Cuomo released his proposed budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year, which would modify and extend the state’s Brownfield Tax Credits (BTCs) for 10 years, provide $90 million for the state Superfund Program, and begin to revive the Environmental Restoration Program (ERP) with a $10 million allocation. Inexplicably, it eliminates funding for the Brownfield Opportunity Areas (BOA) Program.
At NPCR’s June 3-4, 2013 Annual Brownfields Summit in Albany, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) facilitated a Dialogue on President Obama’s new Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP). The IMCP is aimed at accelerating the resurgence of manufacturing and helping communities to cultivate an environment to attract new investment and create good manufacturing jobs in cities across the country. The EPA has been an active partner, working with other agencies, on the White House IMCP initiative.
With the looming sunset of the New York State Brownfield Tax Credits (BTCs) and a wide and growing range of constituencies that support robust brownfield financial incentives, the time is ripe for reform legislation in Albany. Due to its successful track record and history of unique collaboration among diverse interests in the brownfields arena, NPCR was encouraged to convene stakeholders with the goal of identifying areas of wide agreement and putting forward an analysis and recommendations reflecting that consensus.
The Brownfield Tax Credits created by the 2003 Brownfields Law expire on March 31, 2015. In order to qualify for the tax credits, a project must receive a Certificate of Completion from the New York State Department of Conservation by March 31, 2015. Given the significant time it takes to obtain regulatory sign-off, the door is fast closing on these financial incentives, and there is nothing in place to fill the void.
Job creation and economic revitalization are at the top of the agenda of nearly every decision-maker in the country — local, state and federal. Recovery from the economic recession and financial crisis has been slow, with New York’s unemployment rate stuck at 8%. While the search for effective economic revitalization strategies continues, fiscal constraints limit the range of policy options. New Yorkers must do more with less while simultaneously pursuing creative, cost efficient economic revitalization strategies that create new businesses and jobs.
To date, more than 100 communities across New York have been admitted to the Brownfield Opportunity Areas program, with more expected soon. The municipal governments and community-based organizations leading these BOA initiatives are giving hope to residents of some of New York’s most distressed neighborhoods. The program has provided them a voice in determining the post-cleanup future of their communities, and the area-wide approach to community revitalization is becoming a national model for using smart growth strategies for urban revitalization.
New Partners for Community Revitalization, Inc. (NPCR) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to advance the renewal of New York’s low- and moderate-income neighborhoods and communities of color through the redevelopment of brownfield sites. In collaboration with community, commercial, government and nonprofit partners, NPCR develops policies, programs and projects aimed at achieving the remediation and sustainable reuse of brownfield sites in New York.
In connection with several recent program and project undertakings, NPCR has identified the need for adequate funds for site investigation as an important element in advancing brownfields projects, particularly in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. While there exist several programs that offer site assessment resources, there also exist a number of obstacles to fully utilizing these funds.