Pratt Center works with local organizations to plan for the sustainable redevelopment of brownfields in low- and moderate-income communities.
Brownfields – defined by the EPA as “real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence…of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant” – are littered throughout many of NYC’s low- and moderate-income communities.
The product of deindustrialization, disinvestment and abandonment, brownfields are a barrier to local economic development, sustainable open space and quality public health, in addition to a blight on communities’ landscapes and well-being.
Pratt Center has been a longtime champion for measures that empower communities to cleanup and sustainably redevelop brownfields. We were part of the Brownfields Coalition, which proposed legislation that would encourage the establishment of cleanup standards based on how an environmentally compromised property would be used, and premised on the State providing incentives for voluntary cleanups. In 2000, we sponsored an international conference, “Beyond Brownfields: Visions of Equitable and Sustainable Development,” which brought together numerous parties toward a collective vision for brownfield redevelopment.
Today, Pratt Center is one of the leading technical assistance providers to community-based organizations under the New York State’s Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) program.
BOA provides resources to local stakeholders to develop visionary yet implementable community-driven plans for comprehensively redeveloping neighborhoods with high concentrations of vacant, underutilized, and contaminated property. Since BOA was launched in 2003, we’ve worked with New York City communities that want to take a proactive approach to brownfield remediation and redevelopment. We engaged in groundbreaking work in the South Bronx that resulted in neighborhood quality-of-life improvements such as the Concrete Plant Park. We have also leveraged our connections with Pratt Institute’s graduate land use and planning studios to provide BOA grantees with urban design concepts for strategic sites. Our extensive work with brownfields in New York City has led to an invitation to serve on the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation’s Steering Committee, which advises on ways to increase the capacity of BOA grantees.
Recently we have provided planning technical assistance for BOA projects in the South Bronx and in Cypress Hills, Gowanus, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Clinton Hill-Wallabout in Brooklyn. Admittance into the State’s BOA program requires considerable upfront data gathering and analysis, so we provide support to community-based groups that seek BOA funding through application assistance. Once funded, we work side by side with our community partners to plan and implement their BOA studies, which entails community outreach and workshops, additional data gathering and analysis, market studies, and the creation of informed recommendations for site use.
For more information on one of our recent brownfield redevelopment planning projects, check out the Manufacturing Opportunity Analysis report completed for Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation (CHLDC). With funding from the BOA program, CHLDC embarked on an ambitious and sophisticated planning process to integrate community improvement strategies. Pratt Center provided research and ideas for the community’s year-long planning process, and conducted an in-depth analysis of the opportunities to grow the manufacturing sector of Cypress Hills/East New York by reactivating some of its most polluted sites.