Creating Community-Based Brownfield Redevelopment Strategies

By David Morley, AICP, James Schwab, FAICP, Laura Solitare



Brownfields impact communities in a variety of ways. Abandoned or dilapidated buildings on brownfield sites signal neglect even in an otherwise well-maintained neighborhood. Contaminants found on  brownfield sites can pollute soil, air, and water resources on- and off-site. This poses environmental and public health threats. Safety is another issue as neglected sites are a breeding ground for illegal activities, such as dumping. Finally, brownfields are a drain on the local economy and take a serious toll on community morale, especially in low-income neighborhoods that suffer from a disproportionate number of brownfield sites.


Page Count
Date Published
Oct. 1, 2010
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Authors

David Morley, AICP
David Morley, AICP, is a Research Program and QA Manager at the American Planning Association in Chicago, where he manages and contributes to sponsored research projects; manages the development of the Research KnowledgeBase; develops, organizes, and participates in educational sessions and workshops; and writes for APA publications. Mr. Morley also edits Zoning Practice.

James Schwab, FAICP
Jim Schwab earned MAs in Urban and Regional Planning and Journalism from the University of Iowa. From 1985-1990, he was assistant editor of Planning, then moved to the APA Research Department as senior research associate. From 2007-2017, he served as manager of the APA Hazards Planning Center. Since leaving APA on May 31, 2017, he has been principal of Jim Schwab Consulting LLC, as well as an author, speaker, and continuing his role since 2008 as Adjunct Assistant Professor in the School of Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Iowa. He is an accomplished author and has been responsible in whole or in part for 11 different PAS Reports. In 2016, in recognition of his "pivotal role" in helping create the new subfield of hazards planning, he was inducted into FAICP. Two years later, the Association of State Floodplain Managers awarded him its highest honor, the Goddard-White Award, in recognizing his national impact on the field of floodplain management. He is currently immediate past chair of the Hazard Mitigation and Disaster Recovery Planning Division and leading an effort to create a documentary film about the role of planning in helping communities address natural disasters and climate change.

Laura Solitare

Table of Contents


How to Use this Guide

1. Brownfield Basics
Case Study, Bethel Center

2. The Redevelopment Process
Agriculture on Remediated Brownfields
10 Factors that Make a Brownfield Redevelopment Successful
Case Study, Vermont Transit Bus Barn

3. Community Visioning
Case Study, Mill Creek Development
Common Public Participation Techniques
Case Study, The Watershed

4. Brownfield Cleanup
Case Study, Starlight Park
Case Study, Urban Oaks Organic Farm

5. Brownfields Finance 101
Summary of Federal Brownfields Finance Programs
Case Study, Mexicantown International Welcome Center and Mercado
Next Steps

Additional Resources