Fred Delk, Executive Director, Columbia (S.C.) Development Corporation/Congaree Coalition, has been named recipient of the 2011 Brownfield Renewal Person of the Year Award.
Serving as executive director of the CDC for the past 15 years, Delk has worked with a wide range of projects from Governor's Hill to Vista Commons Apartments, the new Publix Grocery Store and the renovation of 701 Whaley Street. These projects were accomplished by a unique blend of creative finance and public/private partnerships. In addition, Delk and the CDC have been involved in the development of EdVenture Children's Museum, the former Columbia Supply property, Canal Side, the SCRA Innovation Center, Mast General Store, and numerous other projects throughout the city.
In a recent study, Return on Investment from Brownfield Initiatives in Columbia, SC, 2009, CTC Public Benefit Corp. (CTC PBC) researched six EPA funded projects in the city of Columbia. The study concluded that under Delk's leadership, an EPA investment of $271,000 produced capital investment of $63.7 million; increased taxable property values (2005-2009) by $12.5 million; anticipated an additional $11.4 million in capital investment by the end of 2010; $100-plus million in long term additional investment; and estimated the number of jobs on those sites by 2010-2011 at 350 to 400.
Under Delk's leadership the Congaree Coalition has established a market-driven brownfields redevelopment strategy-the goal of which is to leverage brownfields funding to attract private-sector investments that transform economically underutilized regions of the city into areas where high-skilled people live and work.
The brownfields program is an important contributor to economic development and redevelopment in the city of Columbia. Delk is the driver of this redevelopment effort, and the city has been rewarded with new and renovated facilities, new jobs, increased tax revenue, and significant continued redevelopment opportunities through his efforts.
The city of Columbia's brownfields grant is being led by the Columbia Development Corp. (CDC). As Executive Director of the CDC, Delk implements the CDC's broad work plan, which includes historic preservation, targeted business development, provision of funding for environmental and historic surveys, the collection of baseline property information for developers, and the facilitation of economic development opportunities.
The Congaree Coalition is a partnership between the City of Columbia, the City of West Columbia, and Columbia's four economic development corporations, and was created to develop and implement regional brownfields solutions providing economic, social, and environmental benefits to the citizens and businesses in two neighboring cities.
The CDC was established in 1983 to spearhead the revitalization of the Congaree Vista, which is a former railroad and warehousing district that is situated on the banks of the Congaree River. And, in recent years, the city has also called on the CDC to provide services in many of the city's downtown neighborhoods, including Five Points, Rosewood, Millwood and Olympia. The CDC's services include providing financial assistance to businesses and supporting public-private economic development partnerships.
In 1983, a National Geographic article said that Gervais Street in Columbia was regarded as a forest of commercial enterprises that clash with the environment. At the time, five active railroad tracks crossed this major thoroughfare and many of the industrial, warehousing, and commercial buildings that had clustered around the railroad freight depots were deteriorating. Brownfield concerns hampered revitalization efforts on many properties. Today, thanks in large part to Delk's efforts, the revitalized riverfront districts have become one of the most important economic engines in the city.
Since 1998, the city of Columbia has received four brownfields assessment grants from the U.S. EPA. This brownfields program has further increased the capacity of the CDC and the city's other development partners to revitalize properties in older areas of the city. The responsibility of working with the grants and managing the program was given to Delk at an early stage. Using the brownfield funds as a redevelopment tool, Delk realized an incredible return on investment (ROI) for both the city and the EPA
The first grant was completed in 2000, while the second and third grants were awarded in 2006 and completed in mid 2009. The three initial grants allowed the city to invest $600,000 to help jumpstart a range of redevelopment projects. As a part of the Congaree Coalition, the city is now collaborating with the city of West Columbia on a $1 million brownfields initiative that was funded through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
In addition to the successes on past brownfield grant efforts, Delk's leadership of the CDC and Congaree Coalition during the current ARRA Coalition grant has continued the successful redevelopment of brownfield properties. For example:
• A new City parking garage with retail space on the ground floor is currently under construction with an investment of $13 million on a former downtown brownfield.
•A Mast General store (a $5.5 million redevelopment investment and 40 full and part time jobs) opened in downtown Columbia on Main Street in a former department store, where an old underground storage tank (UST), asbestos, and lead-based paint hindered redevelopment until Fred's CDC and brownfield program provided assistance.
•The former Boozer Lumber property is also being redeveloped leading to the creation of 22 full and part time jobs and a $6.06 million investment in the property (petroleum above-ground storage tanks (ASTs) were of major concern).
Thanks to everyone who submitted nominations and voted in our Person of the Year program!