Revitalization and redevelopment have been common trends in recent urban planning. Communities are working to revive blighted areas that attract crime, lower property values and drive out longtime businesses. Memphis is no stranger to addressing blight. Neighborhoods like the South Main District, the Edge District and Tioga’s stomping grounds in the Pinch District, are all seeing a reawakening with mixed-use developments and transportation enhancements. Warehouses and factories that have been closed for years and even decades are being renovated and repurposed into high-end apartments, commercial offices, shops and restaurants.
While it’s exciting to bring these revitalization plans to reality, developers need to pause and consider environmental risks before skipping into construction. We’ve put together a checklist of actions to keep you in compliance, ensure safety and avoid headaches as you begin demolition and renovation. Before you start removing old HVAC systems or installing new flooring, double check these items.
Hazardous Building Materials
The older the building, the more likely its original construction contains harmful materials such as lead-based paint, asbestos, PCBs and mercury. A comprehensive assessment of these specimens is critical before any demolition or renovation.
Indoor Air Quality
Without a proper indoor air quality survey, dangerous exposure levels can lead to serious health and development issues. Older facilities are prone to improper ventilation, which can increase the presence of hazardous pollutants such as carbon monoxide and mold floating in the atmosphere. The presence of mold from water leaks and extreme moisture also affects indoor air quality.
Environmental Site Assessments
Many blighted areas undergoing redevelopment, like in the Edge District, were home to dry cleaners, gas stations, car repair shops and industrial manufacturers. Adverse impacts from these types of businesses have the potential to leave behind contamination that could affect the health of people at the property. Site investigations are necessary to determine if an adverse impact from historical uses is currently affecting the property. Subsurface assessments may also be required if potential risks are found. It’s common to find utility systems, underground storage tanks, and impacts from chemical usage and spills throughout the site that can cause harm to the soil, groundwater and atmosphere if disturbed and improperly removed.
The redevelopment happening across Memphis is very exciting. Even right outside our office doors, the influx of business has brought new life. Pockets of communities that were once isolated by blocks of blight are now becoming interconnected and unified. While we enjoy witnessing the revitalization, we also want to make sure developers are doing it responsibly. Our team is ready to help.