When practically managed, an area-wide planning (AWP) approach to brownfield redevelopment can help revitalize communities where multiple contaminated properties threaten public health, undermine quality of life, and limit economic, environmental, and social well-being.
Equitable Development Tools
Area-Wide Planning: Methods & Practices
Communities can use an area-wide approach to:
- strategize how to assess, clean up, and redevelop contaminated properties and adjacent areas;
- identify community priorities for near- and long-term revitalization;
- evaluate an area’s market potential and needed infrastructure improvements; and
- leverage public and private sector investments to foster community renewal.
Taking an area-wide planning approach—rather than focusing on individual parcels—allows communities to envision the ripple effect that can be achieved across a neighborhood and its surroundings through cleanup and reuse of multiple brownfield sites.
The “brick and mortar” needs of an area, such as housing, grocery stores, and recreational open spaces, are typically evident and quickly find an obvious home in a redevelopment plan. More complex opportunities that local constituents often identify in AWP processes are “connective tissue” concerns—namely those programs and linkages that take time and partnerships to piece together and deliver, but that help ensure oft-marginalized people more fully participate in the wave of prosperity that can follow new investment.
Groundwork Trusts typically tackle these issues by developing and delivering environmental and human development-oriented programming, such as job training, youth development, or river cleanup, in the near term. At the same time, they support local government, developers, and stakeholders to ensure “brownfield for community benefit” redevelopment projects (i.e., parks, gardens, trails) advance from abstract concept to community-informed design development to financing and shovel-readiness.
Tackling intertwined challenges such as unemployment, transportation access, youth educational attainment, and walking and biking conditions in “weak market” communities, where new investment has been lacking for decades, requires planning through collaboration across multiple sectors.