Case Study: Allowing Redevelopment of Industrial Property for Residential Use

September 28, 2020

CEC’s Phase I Environmental Site Assessment completed during the due diligence phase of a commercial property transaction for an Austin-area client identified issues that threatened our client’s plans of purchasing and redeveloping the seven-acre business parcel (a hair salon, a restaurant, a gym, and office space) into a 690-unit multi-family housing development.

The original site consisting of a hair salon, a restaurant, a gym, and office space
The site consisted of a hair salon, a restaurant, a gym, and office space

More than 30 years ago, an oilfield equipment manufacturing facility operated on part of the property. The manufacturing operations released contamination to soil and groundwater above residential standards. At that time, the current property owner entered the site into the Texas Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP) to resolve the contamination issues. These issues were resolved by placing an institutional control on the contaminated portion of the property that restricted any future development of the property to non-residential uses. In addition, two former waste management units that no longer operated at the property were listed as active in the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) records.  

These findings could have scrapped our client’s development plans and put an end to the proposed property purchase and redevelopment. However, Phase II field investigations of soil and groundwater quality completed by CEC indicated that contamination levels no longer required a use limitation. We presented our client with a plan to salvage the project by re-entering the site into the VCP, documenting current site conditions using the existing Phase II data, and seeking TCEQ approval to remove the institutional control limiting the land use to non-residential purposes. Additionally, CEC would obtain closure for the former waste management units.

CEC's Phase II investigation
CEC’s Phase II investigation

Over the next five months, we worked with the current property owner and our client to complete the paperwork needed to enter the site into the VCP and prepare an Affected Property Assessment Report (APAR) in accordance with TCEQ guidance to demonstrate that the property met residential land use standards. The TCEQ approved the findings of the APAR and issued a Certificate of Completion clearing the property for unrestricted land use. CEC also obtained regulatory closure for the two waste management units. Our client has closed on the deal and is redeveloping the property as planned.

Rendering of the multi-family housing development courtesy of O'Brien Architects
Rendering of the multi-family housing development courtesy of O’Brien Architects

We’re happy to have removed the environmental restrictions for our Austin client!

This post was co-authored by Greg Seifert, P.G. (512-493-6071 or gseifert@cecinc.com), and Adam Conti, P.E. (512-493-6063 or aconti@cecinc.com).

About the Author


Greg Seifert

Greg has more than 35 years of experience with environmental and hazardous waste projects for clients in oil and gas, petrochemicals, power, transportation, and manufacturing. He has managed the investigation, design, and remediation of soil and groundwater under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and state risk-based regulatory programs.

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