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The Dynamics of Brownfield Redevelopment


  • Todd K. BenDor

    () (Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Campus Box #3140, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA)

  • Sara S. Metcalf

    () (Department of Geography, State University of New York at Buffalo, 105 Wilkeson Quad, Buffalo, NY 14261, USA)

  • Mark Paich

    () (Decisio Consulting, P.O. Box 1466, Portage, MI 49081, USA)


Negligence of former industrial sites (“brownfields”) has adversely impacted urban landscapes throughout the industrialized world. Brownfield redevelopment has recently emerged as a sustainable land use strategy and impetus for urban revitalization. This study presents a system dynamics model of the redevelopment process that illustrates how delays compound before realizing financial benefits from investment in these core urban areas. We construct a dynamic hypothesis, in which brownfield redevelopment activities are dependent upon funding and in turn bolster tax base through job creation. Drawing on previous studies, barriers to brownfield redevelopment are explored, including fear of liability, regulatory concerns, and uncertain cleanup standards and funding mechanisms. We model a case study of redevelopment in the State of Michigan (USA), which is informed by data from the Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and U.S. Conference of Mayors brownfield surveys. Stock-flow structures represent phases of redevelopment, with diverted streams for sites in which no contamination was found (false alarms) and those with excess contamination level. The model is used to examine the point at which cumulative tax revenues from redeveloped areas exceed cumulative expenditures on brownfield redevelopment under different levels of funding availability.

Suggested Citation

  • Todd K. BenDor & Sara S. Metcalf & Mark Paich, 2011. "The Dynamics of Brownfield Redevelopment," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(6), pages 1-23, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:3:y:2011:i:6:p:914-936:d:12912

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hunter Bacot & Cindy O’Dell, 2006. "Establishing Indicators to Evaluate Brownfield Redevelopment," Economic Development Quarterly, , vol. 20(2), pages 142-161, May.
    2. Hilary Sigman, 2010. "Environmental Liability and Redevelopment of Old Industrial Land," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(2), pages 289-306, May.
    3. Richard C. Hula & Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo, 2010. "Cleaning Up the Mess: Redevelopment of Urban Brownfields," Economic Development Quarterly, , vol. 24(3), pages 276-287, August.
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    More about this item


    brownfields; brownfield redevelopment; dynamic modeling; urban development; urban modeling; urban planning; site contamination; sustainable development;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products


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