OER offers community-based organizations (CBOs) Place-Based Community Brownfield Planning Grants of $10,000 and $25,000. A CBO can use these pre-development funds to conduct brownfield planning at the neighborhood level and to undertake design work or other studies that advance a vacant site towards development. Place-based Community Brownfield Planning Grants are flexible and can pay for a wide range of services and activities at any stage of a development project prior to construction. CBOs can use the funds to identify strategic sites, assess their development potential and develop financing packages for each property. CBOs can also use the funds for building design work to improve prospects for project success. For example, one grantee has used an OER Place-Based Community Brownfield Planning Grant to design the community space within a residential building; another has hired an architect to evaluate a Passive House design for its affordable housing development. Almost any work that advances a project towards construction can be paid for with Place-Based Community Brownfield Planning Grants.
Place-Based Community Brownfield Planning Grant funds are made available to CBOs in two ways. One approach is for the CBO to utilize the services of community planning professionals under contract with OER. While services are tailored to the goals and needs of the CBO, costs for those services are paid by OER from the Community Brownfield Planning Grant, eliminating the need for the CBO to contract with its own vendor for the services.
The second method is for the CBO to establish a work plan using its own contractor, and OER disburses the Place-Based Community Brownfield Planning Grant to the CBO before the work is performed. Under this arrangement, the CBO must sign an agreement with the City and provide the work plan and a schedule for its completion.
Place-Based Community Brownfield Planning Grants require a CBO to designate a planning area around its development site, describe existing conditions in the area, and discuss how the proposed development would benefit the area. OER will recognize the CBO-designated area as a Place-Based Community Brownfield Planning Area. Through these grants, OER seeks to expand the number of Place-Based Planning Areas in the City.
OER also provides Real Estate Advisory Assistance. If a CBO cannot identify or arrange a meeting with the owner of a potential development site, an OER contractor experienced in community development can help identify the owner, contact him or her and arrange a meeting with the owner and the CBO.
If a CBO has questions about the planning or redevelopment process, OER can refer the CBO to a planning professional from the Pro-Bono Environmental Assistance Program of the New York City Brownfield Partnership, a non-profit association of environmental industry professionals. Planners and environmental professionals including environmental attorneys from the Partnership can advise a CBO on how to plan for the cleanup and redevelopment of vacant property. From one to five hours of free consultation with an environmental professional is available.
To contact OER about Place-Based Community Brownfield Planning Grants, Real Estate Advisory Assistance or the Pro Bono Environmental Assistance Program, click here.