By U.S. EPA’s Superfund Redevelopment Initiative (SRI)
Midvale City, Utah, located 12 miles south of Salt Lake City, was literally running out of space. Rapid population growth and sustained economic expansion meant that almost all available land had been developed. The exception: the Midvale Slag Superfund site, which, together with the nearby Sharon Steel site, included more than 700 acres adjacent to the city’s downtown.
The Opportunity: The potential redevelopment of the 446-acre Midvale Slag site presented a vital opportunity for Midvale City, local citizens and the site’s owner. Beginning in 1999, these parties worked with EPA and the Utah Dept. of Environmental Quality (UDEQ) on a coordinated approach that linked cleanup and redevelopment, with a protective remedy and land revitalization as overarching goals. Mixed uses, sustainability and transit-oriented development were key project goals.
The Outcome: Bingham Junction has become the thriving mixed-use development envisioned for the site by the community. The outcomes are striking: approximately 600 jobs, $1.5 million in annual property tax revenues and a $131 million increase in the value of the site property. Families have moved into new condominiums, with more than 2,500 residential units planned. Office buildings, a supermarket and other stores have been built, with up to two million square feet of commercial office and retail space ultimately anticipated. Sections of Bingham Junction’s Riverwalk Park have opened, providing the community with enhanced access to the Jordan River. Finally, a Utah Transit Authority light rail station was due to open on site in August.
Lessons Learned: Compelling site features make a difference. The site’s size, contiguous acreage and location in a major metropolitan area with limited land resources meant that the development of Bingham Junction was attractive to both large companies and small businesses.
Local governments and site owners play significant leadership roles. Midvale City energetically pursued the site’s cleanup and redevelopment and put in place the requisite resources and partnerships. The site’s owner’s involvement led to innovative solutions that addressed site liability issues and integrated the site’s cleanup with the infrastructure needed for redevelopment.
Regulatory agencies can work with local stakeholders to support reuse outcomes that are compatible with site cleanups. EPA and UDEQ understood the community’s redevelopment priorities in the context of the property’s cleanup, enabling the development of cleanup plans that reflected remedy and reuse considerations.
Redevelopment ground work can be integrated with cleanup activities. The site owner installed utility corridors across the site in coordination with the activities of its remedial contractors. When roads needed to be extended across the site to enhance access for additional development opportunities, smelter wastes were graded and capped in place as roadbed material. Other site materials were adaptively reused; piles of uncontaminated slag were spread over the site’s surface, serving as cover fill for the remedy. Portions of the site targeted for commercial and residential development were graded and compacted, so that developers would be able to build on top of these areas without footers, reducing development costs. Finally, ground water monitoring wells were located across the site in a way that did not restrict redevelopment plans.
Redevelopment can take place in phases, over time. Midvale City recognized the site’s cleanup would take time. Similarly, so would development of the 18-acre Riverwalk Park along the banks of the Jordan River. The city stipulated that developers would need to develop the park as part of site improvements outlined in zoning requirements for Bingham Junction. They would also need to phase plans for the park to coincide with completion timeframes for the bank stabilization remedy for the river’s riparian zone. The remedy, designed to minimize riverbank erosion and allow for safe boat passage, was completed in 2011, allowing the park’s development to move forward.
Long-term site stewardship and institutional controls should be addressed early, as part of the remedy for a site. In Midvale City, parties worked together for several years to develop a system of institutional controls that effectively protects human health and guides development activities at this large, complex site. The system provides developers and other parties with detailed guidance, is flexible and responsive to different redevelopment activities, and is closely monitored and managed by the local government.
Source: U.S.EPA’s Superfund Redevelopment Initiative