Carnegie Mellon Press Release: January 20, 2004
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Press Release

Chriss Swaney

For immediate release:
January 20, 2004

Carnegie Mellon Researcher Creates New Course Focusing On Region's Successful Use of Idle Industrial Sites

PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University's Deborah A. Lange, executive director of the Brownfield's Center in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, will explore the impact to the Pittsburgh region of developing abandoned and idle industrial sites in a new academic course: "The Business of Brownfields."

Lange, who has worked as a brownfields consultant for ongoing commercial projects in both Lebanon and the Czech Republic, said the new course is designed to use the region as a laboratory. She will be assisted by Jeff Myers, a real estate professor from Duquesne University.

"This course will help our students get more integrated into the community, and it will help them understand the real estate considerations inherent to brownfield development and the role of brownfields in economic development," Lange said.

More than 40 students majoring in engineering, business and public policy began the course January 13. The course will be divided into two parts: seven weeks of lecture and discussion and seven weeks for case studies and projects.

"And we have plenty of successful regional brownfield case studies to visit. We will learn lessons from those sites, and hopefully get involved with other emerging projects," Lange said. Brownfields are abandoned, idled or underused commercial or industrial facilities where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by perceived or real contamination, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Some of the region's more notable success stories include the $243 million development of a former riverside slag dump into a $243 million postwar housing development dubbed Summerset near the city's affluent East End and the former USX Homestead Works, which closed operations in July 1986. That $300-million Homestead mixed-use site, dubbed the Waterfront, is now home to more than 50 retail shops, including a 123,000-square-foot Target discount store, a 90,000-square-foot Giant Eagle, a 179,000-square-foot Lowe's home improvement center, movie theaters and restaurants.

"We plan to visit these sites and then develop some class projects with some other idle properties through the region," Lange said.

In addition to tours and projects, students will meet business leaders from many of the companies and organizations responsible for regional brownfield development. Experts have been invited from the Soffer Organization, the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, South Side developers, Continental Real Estate company, the Waterfront developer and the Rubinoff Company, developers of Summerset and Herr's Island, a 42-acre island which had been the site of slaughterhouses and a scrap yard before conversion into a development of residential houses and a handful of technology incubator firms.


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