Communities across the country are facing how to bring new life into vacant, blighted, or underutilized buildings. While there is no magic wand to bring these buildings back to their former glory, there is an established process that has proven successful.
- Establish a Project Team of Stakeholders – The team should be made up of property owners, local government, planners, economic groups, community members, neighborhood groups, financial groups, developers, and environmental consultants.
- Develop a Plan for Redevelopment – Create a reuse vision that is exciting, realistic, that identifies potential environmental concerns, and has community buy-in. Remember these buildings contain lead-based paint and asbestos that must be handled appropriately.
- Remove Barriers to Redevelopment – Identify and clean up any environmental contaminants. During this step, it is also critical to identify potential funding sources for the redevelopment.
- Construction – The most exciting part of the redevelopment process, as it provides visible signs that the building is being transformed. Remember to keep all stakeholders engaged through the construction process.
There are currently two great funding sources that can help communities begin the redevelopment process. The U.S. EPA Brownfields Assessment Grant provides funding for communities to inventory properties, perform redevelopment planning, conduct environmental assessments, and community outreach activities.
Applications are due December 1, 2021. While the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Community Catalyst Building Remediation Program assists communities with the redevelopment or rehabilitation of buildings to stimulate economic growth or reinvestment in the community. Pre-applications are due by January 28, 2022.