Profile: Colorado Brownfields Foundation

10 May

Over the next few months, DCI will be featuring a short profile on various Colorado partner organizations and agencies that can help support you in your community revitalization work.

The Colorado Brownfields Foundation (CBF) provides technical assistance to communities interested in redevelopment, renovation, and adaptive reuse of property. CBF accomplishes its mission by providing: area-wide opportunity assessments; property and transaction reuse strategies; redevelopment training; and project coordination services. Resulting public benefits have included blight removal, business-ready sites and community places, and recovered open space.

Since 2003, the nonprofit CBF has designed and implemented strategies to recycle abandoned sites into economically productive community assets. Its strategy focuses on clearing environmental remnants left over from earlier times such as gas stations, dry cleaners, dumps, asbestos, and mining-related uses. This focus not only increases real estate investment interest and enables financing, but also improves environmental quality and ensures community safety. Gap funding assistance for environmental grants and low-interest cleanup financing is a critical component in CBF’s toolbox.

CBF staff is in the envious position of visiting all corners of the state while helping further important community goals. Recent technical assistance we have provided has supported new community centers, health clinics, renewable energy development, and heritage tourism.

In Las Animas, the former Bent County High School is a distinctive structure at the town’s entrance. Once graceful, it is now deteriorating…but soon to be a new public gathering place! CBF assisted the community by providing guidance on environmental and regulatory issues that enabled a repurposing strategy. Most significantly, with CBF’s mentoring, the county was awarded a $96,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for removal of asbestos and pigeon guano. This abatement is a critical first step on the road to revitalization, both for the former high school and the greater community.

The historic Ute Ulay mine town site and mill in Hinsdale County has long been an unofficial visitor attraction despite its deteriorating condition and unknown environmental safety. When the current owner offered to donate the historic town site to the county, the county reached out to CBF for direction on transaction strategies, environmental due diligence, and gap funding. CBF helped secure granted environmental due diligence prior to acquisition and, in collaboration with the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, CBF is now granting technical assistance including advocacy as a regulatory liaison, assistance with contractor procurement, and coordination through the clean-up process.

CBF sometimes acquires difficult sites to turn them into marketable assets. Recently, CBF accepted the donation of a busted, boarded-up, methamphetamine lab home in Northglenn. Chase Bank donated the foreclosed property to CBF, who subsequently identified funding to mitigate asbestos and meth contamination. In partnership with a local builder, Community Builders, Inc., the house was rebuilt as a new, modern, energy-efficient home which sold affordably to a first-time homebuyer. During construction, surplus material and services including poured concrete and tree-trimming was provided to surrounding neighbors.

Jesse Silverstein, Executive Director of CBF, sums it up, “Many communities lack technical and financial resources and are missing an economic development opportunity; CBF’s services fill a critical role in recovering community assets and improving Colorado’s environment.”

For more information on Colorado Brownfields Foundation, please visit www.coloradobrownfieldsfoundation.org

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