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Incentive for Innovation: Assessment Strategies for Tax Incentives Drive Brownfield Site Redevelopment

Site Excavation and Soil StockpileSafely restoring a contaminated property and helping find purpose in its reuse is one of the most rewarding opportunities an environmental consultant can have. It requires a collaborative team with the creative vision to see beyond the condition of an existing site and instead see the possibilities for redevelopment.

With visions of a new hotel anchoring a project site located within a designated brownfields area in downtown Tallahassee, Fla., the owners of MountainShore Properties, Inc., initially knew they were in need of a partner to perform a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA). With knowledge and experience far beyond assessment, Terracon was able to support a successful brownfield site redevelopment using innovative assessment strategies and available incentives.

Identifying Complexities and Navigating Assessment Obstacles

Terracon was selected by MountainShore Properties, Inc. to perform the Phase I ESA based on an existing client relationship founded on a number of previously successful projects. Utilized as a storage and dry goods transfer/loading facility dating back to the early 1900s, the historic site was traversed by three rail spurs. Adding to the development project’s complexity, the Phase I ESA revealed recognized environmental conditions (RECS) associated with impacts to soil related to historic industrial activities that presented an obstacle for site redevelopment.

Following review of the Phase I ESA, Terracon was contacted to facilitate a site assessment. The team knew that if the assessment resulted in a recommendation for site remediation, development of the hotel could only occur if a Site Rehabilitation Completion Order (SRCO) without restrictions from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) could be achieved. The desired SRCO certifies the site as being remediated to regulatory limits with no need for future environmental cleanup.

Our team developed a large-scale comprehensive conceptual site model to adequately assess the site for chemicals of concern (COCs) while gathering data to support an arsenic as natural background assertion. The assessment incorporated the use of offsite and select onsite background sample locations to calculate specific background arsenic concentrations, integrated clay mineral X-ray diffraction testing, grain size sieve analysis, and statistical modeling of laboratory data to definitively prove arsenic was naturally occurring and not originating from human activity. The assessment also documented several metals and low level petroleum constituents in the top 2-feet of site soils. No groundwater impacts were identified. A combined document, Site Assessment Report and Remedial Action Plan, was submitted to the FDEP and subsequently approved. Arsenic was considered naturally occurring below two feet and consequently the top two feet of the site was excavated for proper disposal.

Utilizing Incentives

Terracon further assisted the client by identifying and obtaining tax credits under the Florida Brownfields Voluntary Cleanup Tax Credits (VCTC) Program. Through the VCTC program our client recovered fifty percent of cleanup costs in state corporate income tax credits. These tax credits have an estimated value of 85 cents on the dollar. In addition, because the site is in a brownfields area, it is eligible for tax incentives of $2,500 per future hotel employee.

Our team developed a close working relationship with FDEP which proved paramount to the success of this project. A SRCO was achieved for the property within a year of site assessment initiation. With the brownfield order closed, the owners are currently in the process of redeveloping the site and building a hotel. Terracon is also conducting the construction materials testing and threshold inspections for the hotel construction, and conducted the geotechnical evaluation and recommendations
for the hotel project.