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Land recycling steps up

October 30, 2002

Report shows 43% increase in land reuse activity over last year

Inman News Features

Concerns about urban sprawl, new financial incentives and more government and public support are contributing to a nationwide increase in land recycling activities, according to an annual land reuse report released by XL Environmental Inc.

The report analyzed 331 newspaper and business journal articles published from July 2001 to June 2002 and collected from online sources as a means to identify national and regional trends in the reuse of contaminated land.

The report examined news coverage of 428 specific land reuse activities involving at least 160,000 acres, or 224 square miles of property in 43 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands, representing a 43 percent increase in reuse land area compared with last year's report, which showed 112,000 acres discussing 345 specific brownfields sites.

XL Environmental SVP of risk management Bob Hallenbeck attributes the increase in brownfields redevelopment to the rising problems with sprawl as well as the advances in remediation technology and environmental insurance.

"Whatever the combination of reasons for increased land reuse activity, it is clear that sites once considered real estate eyesores are now viewed, through a completely new lens, as exciting opportunities," said Hallenbeck.

California showed the most dramatic increase in land reuse activity and ranked number one in this year's analysis, according to the report. Forty-one sites discussed in the media were in California, compared with 20 sites in last year's report.

Ohio had the second highest amount of reuse activity with 38 sites, while Pennsylvania had 37 sites and New York had 27 sites, according to the report. Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida and Illinois were also mentioned as consistent leaders in land reuse activity.

The following trends were also highlighted:

  • Comfort levels with brownfields redevelopment continue to grow.
  • Developers, governments and the general public seem to be more aware of the benefits of redevelopment.
  • Public sector involvement continues to be strong in brownfield redevelopment.
  • Public-private partnerships are increasing.
  • Mixed uses comprise the majority of future and planned brownfields redevelopment sites.
  • Community concerns over redevelopment usually center on health and safety hazards, overdevelopment and gentrification, increased property values, new job opportunities and the reduction of sprawl.

XL Environmental partnered with the International Economic Development Council to perform the media analysis.

Exton, Pa.-based XL Environmental is an environmental insurance provider.

Washington, D.C.-based IEDC is an association serving economic and community development professionals and those in allied fields.

Copyright: Inman News Service

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