Brownfields

Roanoke's Brownfield Program is 1 component of the City's efforts to encourage investment in and rejuvenation of its core neighborhoods. The Brownfield Program, when coupled with the City's economic development, housing, and community development programs, offers a holistic package to spur new uses in the City.

Brownfield Classification
The Environmental Protection Agency defines brownfields as "real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties takes development pressures off of undeveloped, open land, and both improves and protects the environment."

The 3 Tiered Approach
The City experienced explosive growth in the first half of the 20th Century as a hub for railroad and other industrial activities. During this period, the, Magic City’s population grew from 21,495 in 1900 to 91,921 in 1950.

Unfortunately, as market dynamics, economic conditions and technologies changed, many traditional manufacturing operations have scaled back or ceased production in the City. This has left our industrial corridors with underused and/or abandoned properties that do not contribute to the community and in some cases act as blight, posing a threat to the surrounding neighborhoods and to the environment.

Elements
The sustainable reuse of brownfield sites involves 3 basic elements or approaches to make the City a vibrant community of choice and to improve quality of life for our residents:
  • Convert underused industrial property along the Roanoke River to a green corridor with a supporting mix of commercial and residential uses.
  • Revitalize brownfield sites in or immediately adjacent to residential neighborhoods as neighborhood scale commercial operations that reinforce Village Centers or provide opportunities for technology and entrepreneurial business and to create opportunities for housing clusters and other mixed development.
  • Reinforce industrial corridors by reusing property for new operations for more efficient land use and to strengthen the industrial base of the City.
Benefit
This approach allows the City to maintain our existing industrial base while providing opportunities to attract new business and residents.

Participation
Federal and state laws were passed in 2002 to remove barriers to reusing sites with environmental issues. By participating in the program, City staff can assist an owner or developer to establish liability limitations/amnesty for environmental issues and can access state and federal funds to help address those issues.