The demand for Austin residential and commercial real estate shows no signs of slowing. Lucrative employment options, unbridled population growth, the affordable market (when compared to the Silicon Valley or other big cities), and, of course, the natural beauty and abundant culture of the city have cemented Austin’s status as one of the hottest cities in the country.
Despite the explosion of new developments spurred by this growth, not every residential or commercial property in Austin is shiny and new. Some have been abandoned, left to rot in untouched corners of town, and are riddled with environmental contaminants. Meet the Brownfields of Austin.
What are Austin’s Brownfields?
A brownfield refers to a property that has been abandoned, left in disrepair, and/or is contaminated. The property does not have to be contaminated to be a brownfield; it only need be expected to be contaminated. Brownfields could be anything from an old industrial building to an abandoned gas station.
In Austin, there are numerous brownfields, a good handful of which have been redeveloped. East Riverside, Montopolis, and areas near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) are the focal points of Austin’s brownfields.
Investing in Austin’s Brownfields
The City of Austin has been investing money into redeveloping brownfields for decades. Investing in brownfields not only has aesthetic and monetary value, but it also improves the local environment by removing hotbeds of contaminants. Some notable brownfield revitalizations include a new Mueller Neighborhood and the beloved Seaholm Ecodistrict, which includes local art, wildlife habitat preservation, and trails where an old Austin power plant once operated.
Now, with a $600,000 grant from the EPA, the Austin Brownfield Revitalization Office is assessing more properties for contamination and initiating clean-ups.
For potential property buyers, it is essential to consider if the property you are interested in is a brownfield. You cannot always tell just by looking if a building is filled with asbestos or covered in lead-based paints; you need an environmental assessment.
At Richards Rodriguez & Skeith, we have experienced attorneys in environmental litigation and commercial real estate to help buyers navigate Austin’s brownfields. Contact us today for more information.