SECAUCUS, NJ-A lot of the industrial development occurring in the US these days involves brownfields, something that’s especially true in older, more mature markets. A panel of experts addressed that topic at the RealShare Industrial East conference here yesterday, an event attended by more than 300 real estate professionals from across the country.

And while the urban infill and brownfield development process is fraught with tough issues, “we are attracted to brownfield sites because of their location,” Frank Petkunas, VP-regional development officer for IDI told attendees of the concurrent session. Most of those locations, of course, are in the middle of heavily populated regions with substantial W/D potential.

And beyond that, “we are also attracted to them because greenfield sites are rare,” Petkunas said. “Brownfields are an alternative to diminishing greenfields.”

And according to Petkunas, matters have improved regarding one of the nagging problems: “The liability issues have diminished. Also, people have gotten smarter.” And as far as the underwriting process, “we look at the structure of the deal. The complexity of the contamination is important, especially relating to time.”

John DiCola, a principal of KTR Capital Partners, a firm founded by former Keystone execs after the latter was acquired by ProLogis a few years back, concurred: “Uncertainty kills deals. There are so many complex issues. You need to figure out a credible remediation plan. It’s about assessing real risk vs. perceived risk.”

On the subject of environmental insurance, Michael Gill, New York regional manager for AIG, told attendees that “there are solutions” that might not have existed a few years ago. For any given deal, he explained that if it involves the sale of a piece of contaminated property to a developer, “we look at the motivations for the seller. We look at the type of due diligence. We look at the data relating to the contamination. We structure an insurance policy based on that–it comes down to the quality of the data.”

That data generally comes from the consulting side, and Richard Burrow, a senior associate with Langan Engineering & Environmental Services, explained that, “different consultants give different advice, and the quality of the advice is important. Buyers [of brownfield sites] are being asked to give more and more data in less and less time.”

“Time is money,” interjected panel moderator Michael Stingone, a partner in the law firm of Winne Banta Hetherington Basralian & Kahn. “You have to shift the various pressures around to get things done.”

Noting that any brownfields discussion by nature, including this one, tends to carry a negative tone to it, DiCola said, “ultimately, industrial development provides the remedy for these sites. Brownfield development should be part of the solution for these sites.”

“It sounds negative, because we’re talking about lessons we’ve learned,” Stingone commented. “We’ve developed the expertise and the tools to look at the more complicated issues.”

And ultimately, Petkunas concluded, “coordination is the key to the whole thing,” a reference to the teaming of such diverse participants as sellers, developers, consultants, attorneys, governmental bodies and contractors in any given project. RealShare Industrial East is produced by Real Estate Media, publisher of “Real Estate Forum” and

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Once you are an ALM digital member, you’ll receive:

  • Unlimited access to GlobeSt and other free ALM publications
  • Access to 15 years of GlobeSt archives
  • Your choice of GlobeSt digital newsletters and over 70 others from popular sister publications
  • 1 free article* every 30 days across the ALM subscription network
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM events and publications

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?


© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.



Join GlobeSt

Don't miss crucial news and insights you need to make informed commercial real estate decisions. Join now!

  • Free unlimited access to's trusted and independent team of experts who provide commercial real estate owners, investors, developers, brokers and finance professionals with comprehensive coverage, analysis and best practices necessary to innovate and build business.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and GlobeSt events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including and

Already have an account? Sign In Now
Join GlobeSt

Copyright © 2024 ALM Global, LLC. All Rights Reserved.