Turning Contaminated Properties into Shopping Centers

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania, February 4, 2008 (ENS) – Philadelphia will host redevelopers of contaminated properties on February 12 when the Northeast Brownfields Development Forum comes to the Philadelphia Marriott Hotel.

Billed as an educational and deal making event, owners of contaminated properties are welcome to attend the brownfield redevelopment and property transaction forum.

The one day event is sponsored jointly by the International Council of Shopping Centers, in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Program and other co-sponsors including the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Departments of Environmental Protection.

One session on financing opportunities will examine a case study of the 13.7 acre Bishop Tube property in Chester County.

Bishop Tube was founded in 1842 for the manufacture of gold and platinum alloys for technical and industrial uses. It was also used as a metal fabrication facility in the 1950s. However, after a number of different owners, operations stopped in 1999, leaving behind a legacy of contamination that included TCE and heavy metals.

TCE, or trichloroethylene is a colorless liquid which is used as a solvent for cleaning metal parts that is harmful to human health and the environment.

Since 1999, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, DEP, has been working to investigate and assess the site contamination, maintain a safe water supply for an affected nearby resident, develop remediation alternatives, and facilitate public participation in selecting a remedial plan. To date, well over a million dollars of DEP funding has been used to get the property cleaned up and positioned for reuse.

The Bishop Tube property is currently owned by Constitution Drive Partners, who purchased the site in 2005 from the Chester County Redevelopment Authority with the intent is to redevelop the property for commercial or light industrial use.

As part of the site purchase agreement, Constitution Drive Partners entered into an unprecedented cost sharing partnership with DEP whereby the company will finance the cleanup of the contaminated soil and DEP will continue to address and finance the cleanup of the contaminated groundwater. This arrangement aims to enable better coordination between the cleanup actions and the developer’s plans to renovate the site for productive use.

During the remediation and redevelopment activities, Constitution Drive Partners is “showing” the property to prospective tenants and purchasers. There is also a local citizen action committee that has been actively engaged in the project as well.

This cleanup and redevelopment effort has been about as complicated as it gets, says Jill Gaito, deputy secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, who will moderate this panel. “Progress is not going badly, but getting and keeping everyone rowing in the same direction has been a challenge.”

Other presentations include “The Long Road from Concept to Shopping Mall” focusing on the redevelopment of Brass Mill Center in Waterbury, Connecticut, now home to Macy’s, JC Penney, Sears, Barnes & Noble, Office Max, Toys R Us, and 80 more shops and restaurants.

Another panel will consider a Howard Street property in Wilmington that was the site of a scrap metal processing yard and recycling facility contaminated with PCBs. The site was purchased by the Riverfront Development Corporation and is under contract to be purchased by the Buccini Pollin Group for a shopping and retail center.

For more information, visit the International Council of Shopping Centers at: www.icsc.org.

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