Brownfields Redevelopment

What is a Brownfield?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines a Brownfield as a "Real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant."

The Challenge

Like many older industrial cities, Lowell, Massachusetts has little green space or vacant land available for redevelopment. Therefore, the City identified the return of its Brownfields properties to productive use as critical to economic development and job creation efforts.

The Lowell Brownfields Program is funded in large part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). The program is currently working on sites throughout the City in conjunction with several city planning efforts, including the Acre Plan, the Tanner Street District, and JAM Plan. The City's Department of Planning and Development (DPD) uses environmental site assessments (ESAs) to help revitalize vacant and potentially polluted sites throughout the City of Lowell. Once site assessments are complete, it allows for real costs to be determined and removes the issues and perceptions of possible contamination.

The Brownfields program is integrated with the Economic Development office in an effort to foster future business growth and vitality in Lowell. The Brownfields Program has prospered as a national model for brownfields redevelopment through such signature projects as the Paul Tsongas Arena, LeLacheur Park, the JAM Garage and the Hamilton Canal District. The success is a credit to the City's strong partnerships with the U.S. EPA, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, and MassDevelopment among others.

Highlights of Lowell's Brownfield Redevelopment Program Since 1996

  • Identified sites with the greatest reuse potential - an inventory of 52 vacant or underutilized industrial properties.
  • Developed a $30 million sports arena and a $15 million professional baseball stadium on the former Lawrence Mills site.
  • Awarded the Brownfields Showcase Community designation, pilot funding, revolving loan fund, and a Superfund Redevelopment Initiative grant.
  • Attracted developers who have invested more than $10 million into the 400,000 square-foot Wannalancit Mills project, and $36 million into the 700,000 square-foot Boott Mills project.
  • Leveraged $9 million in funding from the U.S. DOT for the Riverwalk Project that connects Lowell's National Historic Park, by a walkway to UMass Lowell and the two new sports facilities.
  • Developed the Early Parking Garage (JAM Garage), a $25 million, 900+ space parking facility with 17,000 square feet of storefront commercial space on Middlesex Street.
  • Redeveloping the 15-acre Hamilton Canal District, including utilizing over $800,000 in U.S. EPA Assessment and Clean Up funds to remediate brownfield sites within the District.

Redevelopment Funds Available to Developers/Business Owners

  • MassDevelopment Brownfields Redevelopment Fund: Interest-free financing of up to $50,000 is available per project for environmental site assessments. Site assessments are unsecured with no interest charged.
  • Brownfields Site Assessment: Financing is available for environmental site assessment determined on a case-by-case basis. Site remediation must be part of a redevelopment project.
  • Brownfields Remediation Loan: This low-interest loan program comes from the state's $30 million Brownfields Redevelopment Fund administered by MassDevelopment. Funds will be used for site cleanup.

Additional Information

For a complete list of Programs and Financing options, please go to the Governor's Office for Brownfields Revitalization.