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Portland revolving fund begins issuing brownfield cleanup loans

April 10, 2013

Portland’s Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund is officially in business. A $130,000 loan issued this week to clean contaminated soil at a vacant north Portland lot is the first loan from the $1 million fund.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted the city money to establish the fund in fall 2011. The Portland Brownfield Program began accepting grant applications last summer and awarded the first grant on Tuesday.

A brownfield is a site where past use has left contamination in the soil or groundwater, or where concern about contamination prevents the property’s re-use. Former gas stations, metal plating facilities and dry cleaners are common examples of brownfields. Many sites now considered brownfields once provided jobs and helped fuel the economy. Redeveloping brownfields stimulates the economy while protecting green space and public health.

Private property owners are eligible for low-interest, flexible term loans from the Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) to clean up contaminated properties. The Brownfield Program will use a portion of the fund to grant money to nonprofit property owners for site cleanup.

Loans are available for cleanup projects around Portland, but the target area is east Portland where lower land values present an additional barrier to redevelopment of potentially contaminated sites. All applicants must demonstrate that they are not responsible for the site’s contamination, that their proposed redevelopment has community benefit, and that they will be able to repay the loan.

The first revolving fund loan this week went to 3300 N Williams Avenue LLC to clean up a long-vacant lot on Williams Avenue. A dry cleaner that operated there from 1950 to 1986 improperly disposed of the dry cleaning solvent tetrachloroethylene and created a large plume of contaminated soil.

After the dry cleaning business closed, neighborhood residents purchased the site to operate a small business. But discovery of the contamination during development derailed that plan and they sold the property to 3300 N Williams Avenue LLC.

In addition to managing the Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund, the Portland Brownfield Program offers free technical and financial assistance to property owners and developers. For more information, contact the Brownfield Program at 503-823-7764 or visit www.brownfield.org.

For more information contact Linc Mann, 503-823-5328.