What is a Brownfield?
A “Brownfield” is a site (either vacant or with structures) whose redevelopment is complicated by the possible presence of environmental contamination. Examples can include abandoned gas stations, dry cleaning facilities, junkyards, old car dealerships, abandoned factories, landfills, and other potentially contaminated properties. As sites remain abandoned and unmarketable, they increase inner city blight and perpetuate the perception that infill development is risky and expensive. Brownfields decrease property values, hurt local economies, and can threaten community and human health and the environment. Brownfield sites present unique development challenges that require a creative and multifaceted approach to address.
In 2011, the City of San Antonio established the Brownfields Program to foster redevelopment of these sites. The mission of the City’s Brownfields Program is to identify such sites, assess the environmental conditions to determine the extent of contamination, if any, and facilitate the clean-up and redevelopment of the site into a productive community asset.
Benefits of San Antonio’s Brownfields Program
The City of San Antonio provides free or low cost environmental services to redevelop sites with potential environmental contamination. As long as funding is available, the program can cover the entire cost of environmental site assessments and cleanup planning. Additionally, the program can assist with the cost of remediation and provide assistance in coordinating with outside agencies, such as the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality or the US Environmental Protection Agency. Such assistance can save up to tens of thousands of dollars per site in environmental services and fees.
Phase I Environmental Site Assessment:
Most lenders require a Phase I ESA prior to property acquisition. This entails a thorough historical review of the property to determine if past site uses may have caused environmental contamination. The Brownfields Program covers the cost of this assessment, which can be up to $6,000 depending on the site.
Phase II Environmental Site Assessment:
This is a more in-depth site investigation including testing and sampling of the property to determine the level of contamination present. The Brownfields Program can cover the cost of this assessment, which can be up to tens of thousands of dollars depending on the site.
Remediation and cleanup assistance:
If sampling finds contaminants above acceptable regulatory levels, remediation may be required before redeveloping the property. The Brownfields Program can provide assistance with cleanup plans and associated costs of the actual site cleanup.
Applicants will receive reports associated with the assessments with a summary of the overall site conditions and a discussion of options for next steps. These reports will determine whether the property is safe for redevelopment, and, if cleanup is required, what will be the best and most cost-effective option to move forward. Center City Development and Operations staff is dedicated to assisting inner city development projects and is available to guide applicants through additional incentive programs as applicable.
Click to apply for Brownfields Program assistance.
San Antonio Brownfields Program staff can provide technical assistance in applying for assistance with these other organizations.
Use our interactive mapping tool to identify potential Brownfields in your community.
Need assistance achieving your redevelopment goals? Email or call Sarah Esserlieu, Brownfields Program Manager, at Sarah.Esserlieu@sanantonio.gov or (210) 207-0108.