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Lynchburg EDA selected to receive $500K from EPA for brownfield redevelopment

RE Fifth file - Brownfields story

Lynchburg’s brownfields program assessed the new RE Fifth coworking space on 5th Street because it was an auto repair business and showroom previously. The site is one example of places that have been evaluated by the program.

Lynchburg’s Economic Development Authority again has been selected to receive $500,000 in assessment grants from the Environmental Protection Agency to continue to assist businesses and property owners to identify, assess and begin redevelopment of brownfields.

According to a news release, funding dedicated to the assessment of sites potentially affected by hazardous substances and petroleum will be used to conduct Phase I and Phase II environmental site assessments, cleanup and redevelopment planning and community engagement activities. The EDA previously received a federal brownfields grant in 2015 and again in 2018, totaling more than $1 million.

“We’re turning blight into might for communities across America,” EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said in the release. “EPA’s Brownfields Program breathes new life into communities by helping to turn contaminated and potentially dangerous sites into productive economic contributors. Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are significantly ramping up our investments in communities, with the bulk of our funding going to places that have been overburdened and underserved for far too long.”

Lynchburg’s brownfields program, administered by the Office of Economic Development & Tourism, works with property owners to identify, assess and prepare for potential cleanup of previously hazardous buildings or sites and as well as to give the community the opportunity to reap the benefits of redevelopment and restore economic vitality.

Brownfields are idled, underused or abandoned industrial or commercial properties where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination, the release states.

While the EDA will continue to address brownfields citywide, particular emphasis for the current grant proposal will be placed on Lynchburg City Census Tract 19, an area generally referred to as Tyreeanna, which lies east of downtown and the city’s 2015 target area, midtown. Previous projects have included buildings on historic 5th Street, including the new RE Fifth coworking space, which was assessed because it was an auto repair business and showroom previously; the former Lynchburg Foundry Warehouse Site on Garnet Street; the former Intermet Foundry Site on Concord Turnpike; and the urban farm Lynchburg Grows on Englewood Street.

“This project will help us gain a better understanding of the real conditions of sites ready for redevelopment in the City,” Marjette Upshur, director of Economic Development & Tourism, said in the release. “Funds help to proactively begin beneficial re-use of these increasingly underutilized properties. With access to these funds, our Office assists property owners in redevelopment, and the City experiences economic growth through reinvestment, greater employment opportunities, reduced environmental threats and an enhanced quality of life.”

In total, the EPA selected 265 communities nationwide for brownfields grants. The 275 grants totaling $254 million will provide communities with funding to assess, clean up and redevelop underused properties while protecting public health and the environment.

“We have a proven track record that demonstrates our commitment to use EPA funds as they were intended,” Upshur said in the release. “I believe our prior accomplishments reflect our dedication and have helped to strengthen our ability to receive more funding. This support from EPA will allow us to continue reinventing Lynchburg’s image by reutilizing abandoned and deteriorating properties in the heart of the City.”


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