Here are some of the key ways a community benefits from greyfield development:
Although a greyfield is usually not perceived to be environmentally contaminated, the decaying building materials and older on-site infrastructure still might pose risks, like lead-based paint and asbestos exposure. Depending on the building's age and prior usage, universal wastes, including pesticides, batteries, mercury-containing equipment, aerosol cans and lamps, may also be found.
To complete environmental due diligence for greyfield sites, developers still need to perform an Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) of the property, especially a Phase I ESA per ASTM standards, to avoid liability issues and regulatory uncertainty in the later stages of the project. ESAs are also critical in determining the presence of contamination from adjoining properties.
Keep in mind that if your due diligence uncovers hazards or contaminants, remediation funding may be available. Working with a team of experts makes it easier to adapt to these issues as they occur.
Land surveying is a detailed process that helps gather and analyze data to locate property lines and map the ideal layout. When buying a commercial property such as a greyfield, a stakeholders needs detailed information on the historical records of ownership. They will also need documentation on boundaries, easements, topography and other features. Boundary surveys, aerial mapping, American Land Title Association, or ALTA, surveys and topographic surveys, among others, provide the comprehensive information you need to evaluate the site and investigate the possibility of adverse rights. Advanced surveys through 3D laser scanning and Matterport scanning help developers create 3D models of the greyfield property to determine the building envelope and develop site plans through computer-aided designs.
The Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule requires developers to implement lead-safe practices during greyfield development. Hiring lead-safe certified contractors to work on greyfields can help projects comply with the RRP rule and protect workers and those who live nearby from lead exposure.
As former retail or commercial shopping sites, greyfields often are found in highly visible locations at the corners of busy roads or highways. During redevelopment, which can last from a year to a year and a half, the transportation routes around the neighboring community may be affected. To avoid causing excess traffic delays, developers need to get approvals from local regulatory and transportation authorities for egress, entrances and other routes along the way to the greyfield site.
Financing a greyfield development project is challenging. The appropriate funding solution - or solutions - depends on the size of the community and its needs, site conditions, plans and potential strategies for redeveloping a greyfield. Federal and state tax credit programs encourage investments into these challenging properties. Additionally, state-specific financing tools for greyfields, along with Community Development Block Grants and the EPA's revolving loan funds, can help finance redevelopment of the underused sites to revitalize communities.
Developers and municipalities often lack the in-house expertise and the professional know-how to perform the ESAs and land surveys and manage grants, which are necessary to finance a greyfield development project. A cross-functional team of engineers and environmental consultants can help provide end-to-end assistance with redeveloping greyfields.