ALBANY—Local communities across New York have received significant direct and indirect economic benefits from the State Brownfield Cleanup Program, according to a new report. The $7 billion in total investment, 42,300 construction jobs and 15,000 direct permanent jobs largely occurred during one of the worst real estate recessions in recent history.
Titled “New York State Brownfields Cleanup Program: An Assessment of the Economic, Fiscal and Environmental Impacts,” the report from national consulting firmRedevelopment Economics found that the Empire State’s 11-year-old BCP is working. The program offers state tax credits to incentivize developers who voluntarily remediate sites that are contaminated with hazardous waste or petroleum, and generates $2.11 in direct tax revenues over a 20-year period for every dollar of tax credit, along with $1.33 in indirect revenues.
Among other findings, the report found that as much of 63% of the projects and associated jobs created at redeveloped brownfields were either in high poverty/high unemployment “EN Zones” or in census tracts where the poverty rate was above the statewide average. Partly as a result of the 2008 reforms that accelerated BCP credits for manufacturing operations, 15 manufacturers located, expanded, or re-invested in Upstate New York, creating or retaining 2,500 jobs. The report concludes that program models in other states which focus only on the environmental cleanup have a much lower redevelopment success rate than those along the lines of the BCP, because developers can walk away from the remediation site after it is clean if tax dollars have already paid for the cleanup.
“New York’s BCP compares favorably to other state brownfields programs on several levels” and should be used as a model nationally, says Evans Paull, principal of Redevelopment Economics. “Just in terms of sheer numbers, the job and investment metrics are substantially higher than other states. The emphasis on redevelopment funding, instead of cleanup-only, leads to a much higher rate of projects crossing the finish line, and the as-of-right nature of the tax credit has the maximum effect on private investment decisions.”
The 67-page study, which analyzed 96 projects that had used the BCP, was funded by the Developers Brownfield Alliance, a statewide group of developers who have participated in the BCP. Sponsoring members include ATCO Properties, Silverstein Properties Inc., WilderBalter Partners, Bilwin Development Affiliates LLC, Palin Enterprises, the Dermot Co., the Cappelli Organization, Lettire Development/Lettire Construction Corp, One Point Street Inc., and Angelica Corp. The alliance did not participate in the preparation of the report.