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Economic Opportunities Working with Blighted Properties

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) estimates that there are more than 450,000 brownfields in the US. Cleaning up and redeveloping these properties creates many societal and environmental benefits: (1) increasing local tax bases, (2) adding jobs, (3) increasing nearby property values, (4) reducing pressures to develop open land, and (5) improving and protecting the environment.


BBJ Group routinely works with local, state, and federal regulatory bodies in the course of completing a variety of brownfield-related due diligence, site restoration, and cleanup projects.  In addition to handling the remediation, BBJ Group also assists client with grant applications to secure the necessary funding to kick off a project, and can help lead public outreach during all stages of the project.

BBJ Group professionals have worked with USEPA and the U.S. military in support of federal contracts including the Remedial Action Contract (RAC); the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Enforcement Permitting Assistance (REPA) Contract, and under the Navy CLEAN II Contract.


Here are some of the brownfield redevelopment projects that we’ve completed for past clients.


The Client, a Fortune 500 company, owned a paint manufacturing plant near San Francisco. Wastes containing metals and volatile organic compounds had migrated offsite in groundwater. The municipality was redeveloping adjoining properties as part of a high profile urban redevelopment that had created a housing shortage. The Client, environmental regulators, and municipality collaborated to develop a strategy to relocate operations, clean up contamination, and construct residential properties.

BBJ Group professionals proposed a “Low Benefit Groundwater Cleanup Settlement” to accelerate site closure without re-openers via a financial settlement. Studies were conducted to convince the Client’s counsel and regulating agencies to allow groundwater closure using this strategy. Work included an analysis of the economic benefit, accounting for contingent liability, remediation savings, stigma issues, accelerated occupancy, and cash flow. The strategy reduced site liability by more than $3 million, accelerated the site occupancy by one year, and funded a stream restoration program.


The Client, a national developer of residential, commercial, and mixed-use property, engaged BBJ Group professionals to plan, design, and relocate existing groundwater treatment infrastructure used to remediate contaminated groundwater at the former Fort Ord Army Base in Northern California. The project had a budget of $3.65 million. 

The project entailed relocating more than a dozen groundwater extraction and monitoring wells, more than three miles of untreated and treated water conveyance, several infiltration galleries, and related ancillary infrastructure. The work was required as Client planned to build a 120-acre residential and commercial complex as part of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) redevelopment. Project management required the coordination of the Army legal and environmental departments, BRAC, the developer, two municipalities, five regulatory agencies, more than ten public interest groups, and seven major subcontractors. BBJ Group professionals provided the lead regulatory agency with a Work Plan detailing the design specifications, costs, and project schedule. The Work Plan was accepted by all parties and the project began on time.


BBJ Group provided site redevelopment services to a Chicagoland municipality at a former limestone quarry site. The site operated as a quarry in the early 20th century until it was backfilled with construction demolition and debris in the 1950s. The site remained vacant until 2007 when the municipality wished to redevelop the site for recreational, municipal, and commercial use. BBJ Group used an array of below ground and above ground sampling equipment to assess whether volatile constituents of concern were present at levels safe for human health and the environment. This approach  allowed project leaders to strategically design the redevelopment such that many of the proposed buildings were located in areas outside unacceptable risk criteria.  A building control technology (BCT) mitigation system was designed and installed for the balance of the site.   

BBJ Group created work plans, oversaw the implementation of remedial measures, and assisted with the pursuit of brownfield grants. The efforts aimed to attain a No Further Remediation (NFR) designation from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s Site Remediation Program. As a result of BBJ Group’s efforts, the site was redeveloped to the satisfaction of the municipality and commercial developers, and received one of the first NFRs in the State that addressed vapor intrusion / indoor inhalation.




Kate Hendrickson, CHMM

Principal, Real Estate and Transaction Support Practice Lead