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OAKLAND-California State Treasurer Philip Angelides has given the city of Oakland a $1 million check to assist it in attracting developers interested in building on “brownfields,” the term given to abandoned properties, including former gas stations and industrial factories, where development is hindered by the potential of contamination.

Mayor Jerry Brown accepted the million-dollar check on behalf of the city. The check will allow Oakland to offer loans to developers and contractors to pay for brownfield site assessment, technical assistance and the development of remedial action plans.

The money was given by the California Recycle Underutilized Sites (Cal ReUSE) program, which was set up by the California Pollution Control Financing Authority. Angelides says that one of the main obstacles to redeveloping brownfields is the uncertainty associated with the initial assessment work.

In many cases, a developer spends thousands of dollars on the initial assessment only to find that the cost of cleanup would far exceed construction costs. Cal ReUSE loans convert entire loans into grants, in the event that results of an assessment determine that redevelopment is not financially viable.

Brown hopes that the grant will attract developers to Oakland’s underused areas and help draw more businesses. He says that the money is well-spent, as it puts money back into the economy by stimulating commerce and creating new jobs.

Some developed brownfield sites in Oakland include the Federal Express sorting and distribution center, located near Network Associates Coliseum and site of today’s news conference, which used to house the IMO/Laval engine factory, and the Jack London Cinema, which used to be the site of a coal gasification plant.

The Cal ReUSE program is in its testing stage, with Oakland being the first city to receive funds from it. Emeryville and San Diego have also been chosen as pilot cities.

Angelides said Oakland was selected because it has demonstrated a commitment to redevelopment. He says that if the city continues to work on improving rundown sites, there would be more money available in the future.

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