EPA Grants Help Boost Industrial Corridor Plans

A drive along Mass Ave. north and east from Circle City Industrial Complex reveals derelict and abandoned properties among thriving businesses. Once, the corridor was home to bustling industry that contributed to the economic well-being of Indianapolis. Now, some have been abandoned and left to rot; some are contaminated with chemicals and toxins that make it difficult for new owners to redevelop the land. A new grant from the EPA administered by the city will help business owners rehabilitate these properties, and hopefully, put them to better use.
According to The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “A brownfield site is 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.” Former gas stations, dry cleaning operations, lumber yards, or machine shops may be sites contaminated, making it difficult for potential new owners to rebuild a property.
The City of Indianapolis received a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2015 to fund Phase I and Phase II environmental assessments in and near the Mass Avenue/Brookside Industrial Corridor in 2016. This testing is recommended and often required before purchasing a commercial or industrial property. This funding assistance may be available to companies planning to buy or sell properties in this area to help expedite and prioritize the redevelopment of brownfield sites.
“A potential new owner calls us, and if they qualify, we help coordinate with consultants who do the testing. It takes 45-60 days to get a report back, depending on the property,” explained Lauren Riga with the Department of Metropolitan Development. “If the report reveals problems, a Phase II assessment is made to find out  the extent of the contamination.” She said that the assessments are necessary for companies building on sites to avoid liability. A Phase I assessment can cost $1,000-$2,000. The city will help property owners find consultants and walk them through the process.
Riga noted that her office is getting calls daily from people interested in properties along the corridor. “We can help them get the resources they need, like the EPA grants. This is a city-wide grant, but we are focusing on the Mass Ave./Brookside corridor.”
Recent developments in the area include McNamara Florist’s move to Ludlow Ave., and the continued revitalization of the CCIC, plus a resurging interest in small-scale manufacturing. Emily Scott of Riley Area CDC noted that the area has been getting quite a bit of attention, especially around the CCIC. In 2015, Riley completed a study of the corridor, including public meetings with neighbors and business owners, to get a better sense of what is needed to redevelop the area. “In the next month or two, we’ll probably see a couple more big announcements about businesses moving to the corridor.” Riley Area CDC has also been working on developing relationships with businesses along the corridor, providing resources to help them along. “It is a collaborative effort. We’re helping small businesses build relationships with the city.”
For more information about properties available in the corridor, visit rileyarea.org.