What are Brownfields?
A brownfield is land that is vacant or underused because of the actual or perceived presence of a hazardous substance or contaminant. Some brownfield sites are actively being used while pollutants remain in the soil or groundwater; the contamination can become an issue when property owners want to expand, redevelop or sell their land.
Why do we care about brownfields in Tigard?
Brownfield redevelopment is necessary for Tigard to become a more livable, walkable and economically resilient community with fewer environmental health risks.
Uncertainty caused by potential contamination is a key obstacle to redevelopment and expansion in the Downtown Urban Renewal District as well as Employment and Industrial Lands. The grant provides funds to determine whether the sites need remediation or not.
How Do Brownfields Affect Public Health?
Brownfield redevelopment can contribute to a both healthier population and environment by creating buildings and greenspaces that promote healthy living in addition to addressing the potential environmental contamination of the site.
How Can Brownfields Redevelopment Help Implement Tigard's Strategic Plan on Walkability?
The City’s brownfield activities complement its vision to be the most walkable city in the Pacific Northwest by providing a catalyst for redeveloping underused and vacant sites. The redeveloped sites contribute to a more walkable environment by encouraging the development of pedestrian-friendly destinations.
EPA Assessment Grant
In May 2014, the City of Tigard was awarded two brownfield grants from the Environmental Protection Agency for community-wide assessment. Each grant was $200,000; one was for hazardous substances contamination, and the other was for petroleum contamination. The grant period expired July 6, 2017.
The EPA Community-Wide Assessment grant funding accelerated Tigard’s goal of working with business and property owners to clean up occupied, vacant, and/or underutilized brownfields for redevelopment. The City focused this resource on its 193-acre downtown urban renewal district, the Vertical Housing Development Zone and sites within Tigard’s approximately 1,100 acres of employment land (industrial, commercial, and mixed use zones).
The grant allowed the City to complete an inventory of its industrial and employment areas, building on the inventory that was compiled for its downtown area. The grant funded environmental assessments and cleanup planning at targeted properties, including the properties of interested private sector owners or developers, to ensure that contamination did not pose a barrier to productive expansion or reuse of the sites. It was also be used to support community planning to identify feasible uses of these sites, identify needed infrastructure upgrades or other improvements to support development, and build community support for redevelopment.
Vertical Housing Development Zone
The Vertical Housing Development Zone (VHDZ) was among the areas where grant activities were targeted. Tigard’s VHDZ includes two areas within the city that are well positioned for mixed-use multi-story development. Tigard’s downtown and the majority of the area within the Tigard Triangle are eligible for a vertical housing tax exemption. The partial property tax exemption applies to new construction on the first four floors of residential development built above a non-residential ground floor.
City Center Urban Renewal District
The City Center Urban Renewal District (193 acres centered on downtown Tigard) is another area in which brownfield grant activities were focused. The City Center Urban Renewal Plan includes projects funded by tax increment financing to revitalize the downtown. Redevelopment in the downtown area will continue the improvements made in the Urban Renewal District over the last several years.
Potential brownfield sites may fall within Tigard’s Enterprise Zone. Businesses inside the Enterprise Zone may be eligible for a three to five year tax exemption on new equipment, facilities and buildings. Learn more about Tigard's Enterprise Zone.
Tigard’s employment land (industrial, commercial and mixed use) was another focus of the grant. Tigard has a shortage of developable industrial land. Addressing potential brownfield sites through remediation and re-development is one way the city can increase land supply and add land back into the available inventory.
Financing: Grants and Loans
The City of Tigard Brownfields Initiative can provide complimentary technical assistance to property owners, developers, and community members. Additional resources are also available:
EPA Brownfields Resources
EPA Data and GIS Tools
- Envirofacts Data Warehouse
Access to several EPA databases with information about environmental activities that may affect air, water and land
- My Environment
A wide range of federal, state and local information about environmental conditions and features
Interactive maps and aerial photography displaying facility-based information
Chemicals and Cleanup Information
Frequently Asked Questions
1) How do I know if my property, or the property I am interested in buying/developing is a brownfield?
A property is deemed a brownfield if the possibility of contamination, or actual contamination, interferes with its reuse. An Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) will provide information about the history and current condition of your property to inform your decision making process.
Lenders, developers, and buyers typically require an ESA for commercial and industrial sites. If your property is found to be contaminated, it will be difficult to finance, develop, or sell it for full value. Unknown contamination can also pose public health risks.
2) What is involved in an ESA?
There are two possible steps:
Step 1: Phase I ESA—a contractor will research the past and present uses of the site, review existing environmental studies, and conduct a preliminary site inspection to establish the likelihood of contamination. This investigation will determine whether or not further assessment is necessary.
Step 2: Phase II ESA—this process is recommended if the phase I ESA identifies possible contamination. This step includes soil, water, and soil gas sampling to identify the type and extend of contaminants. A phase II ESA is tailored to the property and its intended future uses. It will also determine whether clean-up is necessary.
3) Is this process, including clean-up, expensive and time consuming?
Brownfield assessment and cleanup can be expensive, but it may be even more expensive and difficult to develop or sell a property at its fullest value without an ESA. A full ESA can take several months, but it is a worthwhile investment weighed against the risks of buying a potentially contaminated site, or finding contamination during construction.
Low-interest loans and grants to assist with clean-up may be available through the State of Oregon Business Oregon division.
For more information, please contact:
Sean Farrelly, Redevelopment Project Manager
City Wins $400,000 to Support Brownfields Initiative
City Wins $400,000 to Support Brownfields Initiative
The U.S. EPA has awarded the city of Tigard’s downtown urban renewal agency two grants worth $400,000 to help clean up the agency-owned properties at Fanno Creek and Main Street, paving the way for redevelopment of the site and continued downtown revitalization.
The EPA funding, announced on May 20, 2016, will play a critical role in developing the underutilized properties on the city’s main walking street. The funding lays the groundwork for a planned mixed-used project and public space overlooking Fanno Creek. The redevelopment will support the urban renewal plan’s goal of making downtown the interconnected green heart of the community.
Brownfields like the Main Street and Fanno Creek site are properties that are underutilized due to the presence or potential presence of contamination that makes reuse of the property more complicated. Brownfield redevelopment can promote population health and the environment by creating buildings and greenspaces that encourage healthy living in addition to addressing the potential environmental contamination of the site.
The Tigard Town Center Development Agency was one of just three recipients selected by the EPA in Oregon for the highly competitive grants in 2016. (See press release
announcing EPA funding.).
Brownfields Provide Opportunities for Learning
Brownfields Provide Opportunities for Learning
The City of Tigard’s Brownfields initiative is all about helping property owners with contamination concerns get clarity. The program helps implement the city’s redevelopment plans, attract new investment, and improve public health.
On November 8, 2016 the Brownfields Initiative also helped 25 Portland Community College environmental science students learn the nuts and bolts of environmental assessments work. The students took a field trip to a site participating in the program and watched consultants from Amec Foster Wheeler gather samples of soil and groundwater. Later they visited Apex Laboratories to see where samples are analyzed for potential contamination. Representatives from the City, US Environmental Protection Agency, and the State of Oregon Department of Environmental Quality also gave presentations to students.
In addition, on November 11, 2016 nine students from Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. visited another Tigard site that is undergoing an environmental assessment under the initiative to get an up close look at employment opportunities in Brownfields cleanup and assessment. Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. is a non-profit dedicated to promoting success for women in the trades through education, leadership, and mentorship.
Tigard’s Brownfields Initiative is supported by $400,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfield program. These funds help property owners or property purchasers conduct Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) for eligible sites. An ESA is usually required for many commercial loans, and completing one may be a necessary step in a property sale or redevelopment.