OKC receives funds for brownfields

August 9, 2007

OKLAHOMA CITY – As an incentive for developers, a financing package offered by Oklahoma City for renovating the Skirvin Hotel included $700,000 in brownfields loan funds.Rick Dowell, owner of the vacant Dowell Center in downtown Oklahoma City, received a brownfields loan totaling $955,976 from the city to refurbish the 20-story downtown building.Money for the Skirvin and the Dowell Center brownfields projects came from a $2 million revolving loan fund grant Oklahoma City received from the Environmental Protection agency.

Oklahoma City has now received an additional $250,000 from the EPA for loans to help return other problem properties to productive use.“This grant is a supplement to the $2 million revolving loan grant,” said Jimmie Hammontree, Oklahoma City brownfields coordinator. “With the additional funds we have just less than $1 million to loan out.” The Skirvin project was completed and the hotel opened in February after being closed 19 years. In addition to the Dowell Center, three other Oklahoma City brownfields projects are in progress after receiving loans funded with money from the EPA grant, he said.

Other potential projects are seeking loans, including some in the downtown area. “We will be reviewing projects this month for approval,” Hammontree said.The new $250,000 grant received by Oklahoma City was among $2.2 million in supplemental grants for brownfields revolving loans recently approved nationwide by the EPA. Oklahoma City plans to seek additional EPA loan funds this fall, Hammontree said.Brownfields are sites where expansion, redevelopment or reuse of a site may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant, according to the EPA.

The EPA program provides funding to state, local and tribal governments to make low-interest loans and subgrants to fund cleanup activities at brownfields sites.Since the program began in 1995, EPA Region 6 has provided more than $6 million for brownfields projects in Oklahoma including $2.7 million for assessments, $3 million for revolving loan funds, $200,000 for cleanups and $400,000 for job training.