Most urban areas have a large number of former manufacturing, warehousing and transportation sites that have (or have had) varying degrees of pollution, ranging from petroleum-contaminated soil to places with significant pollution from lead, mercury and various heavy metals. Most of these sites can be remediated and restored to productive use. From a social viewpoint, they also typically have roads, water supply, sewerage and storm drains, valuable infrastructure that can support extensive new de-
velopment without forcing the public (or a developer) to bear a lot of new investment.
This situation was brought home to me during a visit to Hawaii in the summer of 2006, when I attended a conference at the new Honolulu Convention Center near Waikiki. About 15 years earlier, I had directed an environmental remediation project at the convention center site, hauling some 3,000 tons of petroleum-contaminated soil by barge back across the Pacific Ocean to Washington state, to be deposited in a new state-of-the-art landfill east of the Cascade Range. (There had been a car dealership and some public vehicle maintenance facilities on the site in earlier years, the likely source of contamination.) Having stood vacant because of industrial contamination for many years, the land was back in productive use as a high-profile urban area.
In 2005 I visited Atlantic Station, a $3 billion real estate development in the mid-town area of Atlanta, on 138 acres at the site of the former Atlantic Steel manufacturing plant. The residual contamination had been cleaned up and in its place was a thriving urban village of homes, shops and offices. The developers took a green approach to the overall development, starting with site remediation, and the value of the real estate was many times what it had been.15 At this project, the 171-17A Street office tower received a LEED for Core and Shell certification at the Silver level, the first such designation for a high-rise building in the country. For the developers, AIG Global Real Estate and Jacoby Development, the publicity value was enormous. The Atlantic Station project combines green buildings with smart growth redevelopment strategies, putting a mixed-use development close to a light-rail station.
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