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Food For Thought: Doing It The Dunkirk Way

19 Jan 2019 9:57 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

By Steve Dwyer

Holistic, comprehensive brownfields redevelopment achievement is what every savvy public and private team strives to accomplish.

New York City brownfield practitioners can certainly provide a master’s class in across-the-board execution as you oversee a portfolio of potential, ongoing and finished projects that, in a word, are prolific by their very scale.

About 420 miles north of the Big Apple is Dunkirk, N.Y., a community of about 12,500 that itself is accomplishing holistic brownfields execution on a much smaller scale.

Solid and well-thought-out site selection. Check.

Job creation and tax re-generation after years of property sitting idle. Check.

Carbon footprint reduction from a transportation and logistics standpoint. Check.

A model initiative for other teams to look to as inspiration in the future. Check.

The Krog Group, a regional New York State leader in brownfield redevelopment, harbored a vision to return a longtime fallow Dunkirk footprint to productive reuse—in turn providing jobs for the community and sustaining and growing businesses in the city.

According to a recent report in the Dunkirk Observer, the construction of a cold storage warehouse to serve Fieldbrook Foods is underway, and appears ready to be fully operational come fall 2019. Fieldbrook Foods produces a comprehensive portfolio of private-label ice cream products and frozen novelty items.

The economic development department for the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency recently billed this project as a “big win for the city of Dunkirk” and the county. “After years of blight, this project will result in the cleanup and repurposing of a large brownfield site, resulting in a beautiful, modern new facility that addresses our long-standing shortage of available local cold storage space,” according to a statement.

The revitalization project includes acquisition, remediation, new construction and equipping of a new 80,000 square foot freezer warehouse. After decades as a contaminated eyesore in Dunkirk, the dilapidated 167,400 square foot Edgewood warehouse has been demolished to make way for the cold storage facility for Fieldbrook Foods.

Property remediation and abatement was—perhaps still is—performed as part of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) Brownfield Cleanup Program. Site preparation is complete and concrete foundations are underway.

Here are some key takeaways from this perspective:

Logistics are a compelling aspect of this project. That’s because the new freezer is being positioned within one-half mile of the Fieldbrook production facility, providing increased operating efficiencies and reduced transportation costs for the company. This bodes well for carbon footprint reduction and overall efficiencies to take shape.

The site selection process with any brownfield project is no automatic, so due diligence and hard work helps crystallize matters. Along these lines, Dunkirk mayor Wilfred Rosas and the city Department of Development team were instrumental in securing the project location by ensuring these necessities. The development is located within what is known as the “Roberts Road Redevelopment Site,” which also includes former brownfield sites Roblin Steel and Alumax Extrusions—both previously remediated. The end use was the exact and ideal one to suit the specific footprint.

Job creation and a boost to the municipal tax rolls. This was a double win. Approximately 150 construction jobs were generated and six to 10 new permanent warehouse jobs created over a three-year period. Chautauqua County, city of Dunkirk and the Dunkirk City School District will each receive real property tax revenue for a parcel that had not contributed to the property tax base over a sustained period of time. In addition, the new jobs result in purchased goods and services in the local community, generating additional state and local sales tax revenue.

One ambitious project begets another. There are other new projects on the agenda in this local region as the city’s development department can hold up the Fieldbrook Foods cold storage warehouse as a success story to serve as impetus for future redevelopments. Developers like local success stories to help them see the possibilities.

Cohesive teamwork rules. This effort was the result of a collaborative effort between the city, county, CCIDA and the food company. There can be gaps in the teamwork effort from time to time when it comes to urban infill projects. Being on the same page eliminates a lot of pain points.

Indeed, pushing all the right buttons is what all brownfield stakeholders envision as their holy grail. New York City brownfields practitioners can certainly look within to derive inspiration for achievement within this context. They can also look outward across The Empire State since there are nuanced lessons learned with every successful project—big, medium or smallish. Dunkirk’s effort is the latest example.

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