RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A new grocery store and shopping center is coming to Raleigh but the proposed site has contaminated soil and groundwater
A state program will allow the project to move forward.
The site is on Wake Forest Road just inside of Interstate 440.
Regency Centers Corporation and ITB Holdings LLC announced plans to bring in a Wegmans grocery store, other shops, restaurants, and possibly even a hotel.
But the site used to be a cell phone manufacturing plant that contaminated the soil and groundwater.
“The contamination here is mostly chlorinated solvents used in their manufacturing process,” explained Bruce Nicholson who oversees the North Carolina Brownfields Program.
Typically, a site with environmental issues is not one that many developers would want to even bother messing with. But the Brownfields program makes it possible.
“Largely before the Brownfields program if a property was environmentally impacted it just wouldn’t be put back into play from an economic or tax based standpoint. They’d just sit idle and sort of develop into an elephant graveyard of unproductive properties,” Nicholson said.
If the state approves an agreement, it takes a lot of the liability off the developers who just have to get the property safe enough for the specific project they want to build.
The company who contaminated the ground still has to clean it up. Soil removal efforts have already been completed in the past and long-term ground water monitoring will continue.
“That’s the concept behind a Brownfields agreement. A developer would do those things necessary to make the site safe for reuse,” Nicholson said.
The agreement would put restrictions on what can be built and what steps the developer must take to make the site safe.
For example at the Wegmans site, they wouldn’t be able to use groundwater for human consumption and buildings would be required to have an extra vapor barrier.
But it’s worked in the past. In fact, there have been more than 400 Brownfields sites that are now thriving.
“And that represents about $15 billion in investment in sites that would not have otherwise been built,” Nicholson added.
The state environmental department will also do yearly checks once this site is developed.
If they find something is violating the terms of the Brownfields agreement, then the developer could be responsible for fully cleaning up the site to a non-restrictive level.
Brownfields sites are also open to public comment. You can read more about the site here.