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You are here: Home / Publications / Periodicals / Natural Outlook / Fall 2010 / Reaping the Rewards of Reuse and Redevelopment

Reaping the Rewards of Reuse and Redevelopment

Crestview Station in Austin and 1531 Inspiration Drive in Dallas are just two of hundreds of properties across the state that have been cleaned up and redeveloped. (Natural Outlook, Fall 2010)

From 1949 until 2005, a research facility that processed components for soaps, foams, and glues operated on 71 acres at the intersection of Lamar and Airport boulevards in Austin. Waste from the facility was buried in landfills on the property until 1969.

Rendering of Austin’s Midtown Commons at Crestview Station.
Voluntary Cleanup Program provides revitalization incentives
Rendering of Austin’s Midtown Commons at Crestview Station courtesy of Trammell Crow Company

Today, the property is being dramatically transformed into a transit-oriented urban village, designed around one of Austin’s commuter rail stops, and located only two miles north of the University of Texas campus and four miles north of the central business district.

When completed, Crestview Station will include apartments, approximately 500 single-family homes, 150,000 square feet of retail and office space, and ball fields.

Cleanup Comes First

Before redevelopment of Crestview Station could begin, the contamination from the previous owners needed to be addressed. To help make this happen, an application was submitted to the TCEQ’s Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP), which provides administrative, technical, and legal incentives to participants for investigation, cleanup, and redevelopment of properties with contamination. The site was accepted into the program.

Aerial view of Crestview Station before redevelopment began.
The 71-acre property at the intersection of Lamar and Airport boulevards in Austin was once the site of a research facility that processed components for soaps, foams, and glues.
Courtesy of Mike Blizzard, Blizco Productions

“The goal of the program is to clean up contaminated sites, get them back into productive use in the community, and restore a property’s market value,” says VCP project manager Roslyn Kygar. “When cleanup is completed and potential source areas have been addressed, a certificate of completion can be issued.”

Once the COC is issued, future landowners, local governments, public and private lending institutions, developers, and other stakeholders gain statutory protection that limits their liability to the state regarding past contamination at a site.

In the case of Crestview Station, a COC was issued once cleanup—which included excavating approximately 20,000 cubic yards of buried waste products and affected soils and hauling them to a chemical-disposal site—was completed.

Reclaiming an Urban Landfill

A five-acre site at 1531 Inspiration Drive in Dallas was identified as a prime location for urban housing. However, initial research into the history of the property revealed its use as a landfill starting in the late 1800s. Further research showed that it was called the “City Dumping Grounds” in the 1920s, and that it held an incinerator during the 1940s.

Once it was determined that the Voluntary Cleanup Program would provide the most benefits and be the best fit for redevelopment needs, an application was submitted to the VCP. The project was accepted into the program.

Soil and groundwater at the site were tested and several chemicals were found to exceed their respective protective concentration levels. It was also discovered that chemicals from the landfill were leaching into the groundwater.

Over 100,000 cubic yards of landfill were excavated and properly disposed of at an off-site permitted facility. In order to ensure that all waste materials were removed, the site was excavated 15 to 17 feet below surface level.

Redevelopment was successfully completed in 2009, creating over 300 new residences.

Voluntary Cleanup Program

Crestview Station and 1531 Inspiration Drive are just two of hundreds of properties that have been cleaned up and redeveloped across the state. As of July 2010, 2,162 applications had been accepted into the VCP, and 1,241 VCP COCs had been issued.

“The perception of contamination or the liability associated with it could scare someone away from redeveloping a property,” says Kygar. “But with the Voluntary Cleanup Program, the certificate of completion issued by the TCEQ shows that the site cleanup has met a certain standard. Something really useful can then be done with the property with a certain degree of assurance.”

For more information on the VCP, visit the Voluntary Cleanup Program.

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