This #GOPCThread covers the 1st in a 6-part webinar series from .@smartgrowthorg & @EPA, Learning from (& Leaning on) Local Leaders to Revitalize African American Neighborhoods, which shares stories from Chicago & Boston & will run through 2021:
To revitalize neighborhoods, we must understand intersectionality & address environmental inequality. Many of the nation’s brownfield sites are in African-American communities. Series suggested readings: The Color of Law, Rothstein & Know Your Price, .@andreperryedu #GOPCThread
In Building Upon Large-Scale Brownfield Investments to Benefit Communities (1st webinar), former .@chicago staff, RTA Northeastern IL, & @FarSouthsideCDC discuss the .@chicago Brownfields Initiative & the progress made in one of Chicago’s South Side neighborhoods. #GOPCThread
The .@chicago Brownfields Initiative started in 1993, & it was the 1st of its kind in the country. Brownfields (aka environmentally contaminated sites) was a brand new concept, & the city formed an interdepartmental team with a $2M budget to address them. #GOPCThread
The .@chicago Brownfields Initiative was majorly successful early on. It was piloted in 5 sites (4 in AA neighborhoods), & the city (unexpectedly) moved all of them into redevelopment for $1M—coming in 50% under budget & illustrating the Initiative’s possibilities. #GOPCThread
Because of its success, .@chicago applied for a $54M HUD Section 108 Loan Guarantee; $20M went to West Pullman, a middle-class, African American neighborhood with concerned homeowners because of acres of brownfield in the area (the largest on the city’s South Side). #GOPCThread
Early on, the city set up a Citizen Advisory Group w/representatives from churches, block clubs, Chamber of Commerce, & residents, who brought press attention to the brownfield—helping support the city’s case for committing resources to the neighborhood #GOPCThread
The Citizen Advisory Group committed to sharing brownfields information w/their constituents; they were a critical piece of providing a clear feedback response between the city & concerned residents. They had regular meetings that continued over 10 years. #GOPCThread
Today, the West Pullman former brownfield site looks nothing like it did 30 yrs. ago because residents were committed, organized, & tight; .@chicago staff had a proven track record of working in communities of color; & local elected officials provided great support #GOPCThread
The West Pullman former brownfield site had unique accessibility qualities: existing infrastructure for vehicular truck traffic; 3 CTA bus routes & the metro-commuter line; 3 rail lines; and it was 1.5 miles from I-57 interchange #GOPCThread
Because of its existing assets, .@chicago Dept. of Planning & Development proposed an industrial park for the site’s end use. The neighborhood didn’t have as large of a site w/economic development potential elsewhere. To support its vision, the city developed a TIF. #GOPCThread
.@chicago also assessed & acquired tax-delinquent parcels & acquired properties through the Land Bank, donations, & leasing. They also used eminent domain authorities when appropriate, & TIF funds helped strategically demolish vacant buildings & cleanup sites. #GOPCThread
.@chicago acquired 85 parcels & completed $7M in infrastructure improvements (e.g., road enhancements, fiber optics, lighting, & water & sewer changes). The site’s assets were then marketed & financial incentives were offered to draw attention. #GOPCThread
HUD, TIF, EDA grant funds, NMTC, & tax abatements were used for financing & community engagement; the site is now home to various developments (e.g., manufacturers; a $200M recreation & arts center w/8,000 members; $4M library; & an Exelon Solar Panel) #GOPCThread
.@chicago also promoted collaboration among the site’s end-users; the solar panels (1 of the site’s 1st major projects) were created by another business in the industrial area. To date, the site represents a $2.4B investment impact in development, housing, & planning #GOPCThread
Additionally, after brownfield revitalization, West Pullman homeowners saw increased home values. The neighborhood’s median household income rose, crime reduced year over year, & resident workforce participation increased. #GOPCThread
Lessons learned from brownfield investment in West Pullman: Collaboration w/ the community is a must, so is persistent local leadership & the alignment of resources (public & private) to address past issues, current demands, & future opportunities #GOPCThread
For the 1st time in more than a decade, Ohio’s communities will have access to grant dollars to tackle environmental inequality & revitalize neighborhoods; for more info on remediating & redeveloping brownfields in Ohio, visit: (and follow @OHBrownfields)

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More from @GreaterOhio

9 Sep
Last month, we highlighted @JohnstownOhio as part of our #OHCommunitySpotlight series, which gave us an opportunity to talk about their Medical Cannabis Program as an economic development strategy. You can find a link to that #GOPCThread here:
.@JohnstownOhio has bet big on medical marijuana as part of a forward-looking strategy to grow their economy and increase jobs. This week on the #GOPCThread, we’ll take a look at another unconventional economic driver: craft beer
The explosion of craft brewing is a recent phenomenon. In 2001, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated there were only 396 brewery establishments nationwide, but the industry grew sevenfold, with 2,843 breweries registered in 2016 #GOPCThread…
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