Is Brown the New Green?
Learning Objectives - After this course, you should be able to:
- Discuss what makes urban brownfields attractive locations for research parks.
- Understand the benefits of brownfield designation.
- Describe some remediation tasks that are commonly required when redeveloping brownfields.
- Identify infrastructure and amenities that should be included in urban research parks.
Improved health and cutting-edge technology are concepts not usually associated with the underutilized or abandoned swaths of land that were once home to grimy industrial complexes in most older American cities. These so called urban brown-fields have become increasingly attractive sites for redevelopment; companies seeking to create the next designer drug or the slickest software are transforming the areas into a new kind of urban research park. Woven into the fabric of a mixed-use, walk-able community, these research parks stand in sharp contrast to more traditional ones, which are typically sited on sprawling suburban campuses and relatively isolated from the hubbub of daily commerce.
While the potential uses have expanded, Sousa says that the cleanup costs and liability risks historically associated with brownfield redevelopment have lessened now that the assessment and cleanup tools are largely in place, the regulatory framework has improved, and developers have become more familiar with the process.Â "Local governments have also become more effective at making these sites shovel-ready," he adds.
One of the earliest examples of a research-oriented, mixed-use community growing out of an urban brownfield is University Park at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Two others at different stages of development include Piedmont Triad Research Park in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and South Lake Union in Seattle.