According to Maggie Weems of Terra-Con, the grant is used to identify, assess and eventually clean up sites that cannot be redeveloped due to environmental issues.
The 2009 grant focused on the Battle Street corridor from the square to Talladega College, with a couple of additional sites roped in.
A “windshield survey” of the area in question netted 179 possible sites. Thirty-two of these were deemed ineligible immediately, either because there were active businesses there already, Environmental Protection Agency or Alabama Department of Environmental Management funds had already been spent on the site or because there were issues with the owner.
The list was eventually winnowed down to 62 sites, of which 57 were eligible. A total of 27 sites were eventually submitted to the EPA, and all were accepted.
Phase I assessments were done on 13 sites, an improvement over the nine sites initially listed as the city’s goal. These include the Wehadkee Yarn Mill, the Wehadkee Dye Plant, Venable Cleaners, Hann Car Wash, Wood Weaver Shoes, the Old City Hall building, Crown Textile, Discount Muffler on Court Street and the Talladega Shopping Center, formerly anchored by Winn-Dixie.
Phase II assessments were initially planned for the yarn mill, the dye plant and the Crown building, but the latter was eventually put aside for future assessment.
A total of 15 bores were made at the two Wehadkee sites, along with samples from deep wells at both sites and soil samples.
Measurable chemicals above state standards and possible vapor migration issues at both sites were identified. Asbestos was also identified at both sites, although not in amounts that would be prohibitively expensive.
“The best way to handle that would probably be a deed restriction on groundwater use,” Weems said.
After that, the Auburn University Design Studio was called in to submit a plan that included a brew-pub, bar, restaurant, event space and courtyard, along with a possible culinary school, in the yard mill building. The plan also includes other downtown renovations, including trail systems connecting the college and downtown.
Just as the old grant was closing out, City Manager Brian Muenger announced that the city had received a second $400,000 assessment grant, and that the response from business owners had been encouraging.
Contact Chris Norwood at email@example.com.