GM deal an example of brownfield success

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012 By: Sarah Terry-Cobo Source: The Journal Record

OKLAHOMA CITY – When the military closes a facility, it can often come with lots of contamination, making redevelopment difficult. In the case of the old General Motors plant in

Midwest City, the military wanted to make sure it didn’t purchase contaminated commercial property.

To help protect Tinker Air Force Base from liability related to potential pollution from the site, it was classified as a brownfield site, Robin Roberts-Krieger, executive vice president at the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, told an audience at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel on Wednesday. Brownfield sites are considered to have pollution requiring cleanup, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The chamber helped facilitate the deal to purchase and lease the GM property to Tinker, following a site assessment and some remediation.

“To me, when it comes to the environmental issue, one of the best reuses of an old industrial site is industrial use,” she told the audience of about 30 people at a conference about brownfields.

Redeveloping a site such as the old GM facility for Tinker was easier than trying to build a housing subdivision on that same property, Roberts-Krieger said.

There were a few minor issues, not unlike pollution one might find at other industrial property, Scott Thompson, director of the land protection division at the state Department of Environmental Quality, told The Journal Record. General Motors conducted its own assessment of the property, and the conditions were better than most manufacturing plants, in part because the building was more modern and built in the 1970s, Thompson said.

“Like any real estate deal, something pops up and we have to get an answer on how to address it,” he said.

There were no major cleanup actions necessary, Thompson said, only a few minor pollution issues from storage tanks on the GM property. Understanding and addressing the pollution concerns were crucial to the transaction, Roberts-Krieger told the audience.

“The environmental piece could’ve absolutely killed the deal if we wouldn’t have figured it out,” he said.

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