EDA program to provide low-interest loans of up to $5M for brownfield projects

The board of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority approved the creation of a Brownfields Loan Program that will make low-interest loans of up to $5 million available to brownfield redevelopment projects for all aspects of brownfield revitalization, including assessment, investigation, and demolition.

The program will be one of the only funding sources available to cover pre-construction planning, demolition, asbestos, PCB removal and lead-based paint remediation. More information is available here.

The Brownfields Loan Program will offer low-interest financing of $100,000 to $5 million for all aspects of brownfields revitalization projects, including assessment, investigation and demolition. Loans will be awarded through a competitive application process beginning in early 2021.

EDA officials said projects will be scored based on various details about the brownfield site itself and the proposed redevelopment project, including the location, the length of time the site has been vacant or underutilized, and how well the proposed redevelopment aligns with local plans. Projects that provide beneficial end uses that promote environmental resiliency, public health and community well-being will receive higher scores.

Historically, remediation has been a major barrier to successful brownfield redevelopment projects because of the lack of funding sources available to support site assessment, planning and cleanup.

EDA officials hope the Brownfields Loan Program is a unique investment tool that will address this challenge by filling in these funding gaps to make the remediation phase of revitalization projects financially viable. The EDA said it expects this to reactivate long-stalled projects and create new opportunities for commercial, retail and mixed-use developments that in turn will create jobs and make New Jersey’s communities more vibrant, cleaner places to live and work.

Tim Sullivan, the CEO of the EDA, said the program will be a key part in rebuilding the economy.

“Revitalizing contaminated sites and putting them back to productive, locally-appropriate use is an essential component of Gov. (Phil) Murphy’s commitment to building stronger, more vibrant communities across New Jersey,” he said.

“The Brownfields Loan Program and the NJEDA’s other collaborations with (Department of Environmental Protection) Commissioner (Catherine) McCabe and other partners to support brownfields redevelopment will play a crucial role in building a greener, fairer New Jersey by incentivizing investors to consider brownfields remediation and making resources available to get these projects off the ground.”

McCabe said the program can be transformative.

“Remediating brownfields turns burdens into opportunities,” she said. “By cleaning up contaminated properties and replacing them with valuable assets that benefit New Jersey’s communities, we create new paths for economic growth.

“Projects like these are important to our environmental protection, environmental justice, and economic recovery goals, but need financial resources. The NJEDA’s Brownfields Loan Program will open the door to more successful remediation by filling in one of the most pervasive funding gaps that holds back these projects.”

EDA officials said the Brownfields Loan Program is part of their Community Revitalization plan, a suite of solutions designed to support development that transforms underutilized and contaminated spaces into community assets. This includes ensuring that residents living in communities that have historically suffered from disinvestment, environmental contamination, and health disparities benefit from brownfields redevelopment.

In addition to the Brownfields Loan Program, NJEDA Community Revitalization initiatives include the Brownfields Impact Fund, the proposed Brownfields Redevelopment Tax Credit, the expanded Community Collaborative Initiative, and the Brownfields Center at NJIT.

“The Brownfields Loan Program is a critical component of the NJEDA’s holistic approach to environmental protection and remediation,” said NJEDA senior brownfields adviser Elizabeth Limbrick. “As one of the only sources of funding available for covering costs associated with pre-construction planning, demolition, and asbestos and lead-based paint remediation, the loan program will be a critical tool to help projects get through the early stages of brownfield remediation and move on to the important work of transforming contaminated sites into community assets more quickly and at lower cost.”

More information about the Brownfields Loan Program and other NJEDA Community Revitalization solutions is available here.