WIT Press

A Model For Redeveloping Complex, Highly Contaminated Sites — The Industri-plex Site In Woburn, Massachusetts


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WIT Press


C. N. Brooks


This paper will describe how one of the most contaminated waste sites in the United States was transformed into a productive commercial center to become an international model for brownfields reclamation. The Industri-plex Federal Superfund Site in Woburn, Massachusetts, is the fifth most contaminated waste site in the country, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). More than a century of heavy industry left a legacy of contamination, including metals in the soil, sediment and groundwater, and piles of odor-producing animal hides. Woburn is the home of two federal superfund sites—Industri-plex and the notorious Wells G&H Site, where contamination in two drinking water wells was blamed for a cancer cluster. After a highly publicized lawsuit and release of Jonathan Harr’s best selling book, A Civil Action, local property values plummeted, community trust was shattered and Woburn became nationally stigmatized. Today, however, this former industrial wasteland has been reborn and is now home to US Fortune 100 giants Raytheon Corporation, Marriott Hotels and Target, which occupy a 900,000 square foot high-end office park and hotel campus and a 200,000 square foot retail center. A state-of-the-art regional transportation center provides train, bus and carpool services to thousands of regional commuters. More than the 4,000 new jobs and millions in new taxes that have been created, Industri-plex is a source of new-found hope and pride. This paper details the strategies that led to redevelopment success, including the unprecedented use of an independent, third-party redevelopment advocate and trustee, the \“Industri-plex Custodial Trust,” to catalyze and implement reuse. Winner of the prestigious National Phoenix Award for excellence in brownfield redevelopment, Industri-plex offers an innovative model with broad application to many sites, especially those gridlocked by complex contamination, property issues and divergent stakeholder interests. Keywords: superfund, stigma, risk, liability, community, USEPA, PRPs, remedy, institutional controls, Custodial Trust, trust, redevelopment.


superfund, stigma, risk, liability, community, USEPA, PRPs, remedy,institutional controls, Custodial Trust, trust, redevelopment.