Success Stories

Gainesville’s Depot Park
Brownfield Redevelopment


The Gainesville Downtown Train Depot operated from the 1860s to the 1940s, with the first railroad passenger service in 1859.  Nearby, the Gainesville Gas coal gasification plant was operating from 1887 to 1952, providing gas for street gas lights, home lighting and stoves. Starting in the 1880s, commercial activity also occurred in the area, including a cotton gin, flour mill and wooden ware (furniture) factory.  Historically, coal manufactured gas plant (MGP) sites have produced some of the most contaminated sites in the downtown areas of Florida’s cities.  Housekeeping practices were very sloppy at the plants and as a result, soil and groundwater contamination was common at MGPs.

On July 26, 1995, the US EPA released an announcement that listed the first pilot projects under the federal Brownfields Economic Redevelopment Initiative. Two years later, the EPA awarded a $200,000 Regional Brownfield Pilot grant to the City of Gainesville to conduct an environmental site assessment on the MGP site. Originally called the East Gainesville Sprout Project, it aimed to assist redevelopment of the site into a stormwater treatment facility with the amenity feature of a park.  The site received designation as a brownfield in 2000. Then in 2002, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) executed a Brownfield Site Rehabilitation Agreement to remediate contamination and complete the redevelopment activities.  The original site consisted of 20 acres however, as additional contamination was identified on adjacent and nearby parcels, the remediation area grew to 37 acres.

Redevelopment began with an effort to characterize this complex site. First, various sources of contamination were identified. Then the extent of soil and groundwater contamination was determined and a remedial action plan was prepared.  Ultimately, redevelopment of the site included the involvement of nine federal, state and local government agencies (Table 1), six major stakeholders (Table 2), and funding from eleven sources (Table 3) including the original 1997 Brownfield Assessment Grant.  Contractors excavated and hauled over 255,000 tons of contaminated soil while 73 million gallons of groundwater were treated.  This ambitious reclamation ties together environmental restoration and infrastructure improvements with historic preservation and community greenspace. Project completion is expected in 2015.


Depot Park envisions a contemporary public greenspace to serve as the city’s “Central Park” while creating a regional stormwater facility for use by developers of the University Avenue/Main Street area (Figure 1) in downtown Gainesville.  The facility treats stormwater runoff from approximately 89 acres of the surrounding area.  The park has expanded to include amenities such as playgrounds, bike trails, walking paths, and interpretive exhibits as well the restored Train Depot Building for small retail shops.  The Cade Museum, a three-story, 45,000 square foot community facility, will also be located within the park footprint.  Depot Park will become the greenspace amenity for downtown Gainesville used by future generations as an area to meet, play and hold special events.

Teri Hasbrouck 
Senior Scientist
Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc.
An environmental consultant to communities and industry throughout Florida.

Cardno TBE’s Engineering and Master Planning Work on Encore Project Wins Award

June 9, 2011, Clearwater, Florida—Cardno TBE’s engineering and planning work on the exciting, mixed-use Encore project between Ybor City and downtown Tampa was recognized by the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission with an award for Outstanding Contribution to the Community in the Master Planning & Urban Design category at the 29th Annual Community Design awards in April.    Awards for Outstanding Contribution to the Community are the highest award level available through the program and are given to projects that exhibit excellence in every aspect of their planning and execution.  The event was hosted by ABC Action News Anchor Brendan McLaughlin and held at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.

For 29 years, the Hillsborough City-County Planning Commission has recognized the best designs, as its way of highlighting successes in filling the big gap between mere growth and those projects of which a community will long be proud. Winning entries serve as models to learn from and emulate.

"To see Encore move forward through these economic times reinforces the strength of solid planning and public-private partnerships," said judge Merle Bishop, president of the American Planning Association's Florida branch.

The Encore master plan also won praise for it’s potential impact on helping businesses in the area remain competitive, reducing tax pressure on local residents, and providing an stimulating environment in which to work and live. The Encore project will completely transform 28-acres of land located between downtown Tampa and Ybor City as a LEED-ND Certified, mixed-use, transit oriented community.  At full build-out the $450 million project will provide up to 1,500 work force housing, senior and market-rate residential units, 200 hotel rooms, a 35,000 square foot grocery store, 180,000 square feet of office space, 50,000 square feet of retail space, a public middle school, an African-American history museum and public parks and gathering spaces.

“You could look at the various components that have been incorporated into this project, from the creative funding, to the rainwater harvesting, to the musical note bike racks and say they are what makes this project an exemplary model for other communities to follow, said Marc Mariano, AICP, PP, Assistant Director for Cardno TBE’s Site Development Service Group. “However, the fact that this project persevered during the most challenging economic times of our lives, is testament to the leadership of the Partnership, and that is what should really be modeled.”

Photo: An artist’s rendering of the Encore project, a $450 million mixed-use development near downtown Tampa that will provide up to 1,500 work force housing, senior and market-rate residential units, 200 hotel rooms, a 35,000 square foot grocery store, 180,000 square feet of office space, 50,000 square feet of retail space, a public middle school, an African-American history museum and public parks and gathering spaces.

Florida's Newest IKEA Store

Originally developed and operated as a cannery from 1936 until 1981, the site of Florida’s newest IKEA store had been characterized by local media as a “gritty industrial site between the Port of Tampa and Ybor City”. Panattoni Development purchased the property in 2005 and entered the Florida Brownfields Redevelopment Program in 2007.  IKEA purchased the property in 2008 from Panattoni after most of the environmental remedial work was complete and opened the store in May 2009. The environmental issues associated with the property were managed by removal of underground storage tanks, railroad tracks and contaminated soil and the use of engineering and institutional controls.  The redeveloped 29-acre site now contains a 353,000 square foot store, a 350 seat restaurant and approximately 1,700 parking spaces.  With the opening of the IKEA store, a destination shopping location has been created immediately adjacent to historic Ybor City and within the Adamo corridor, which stretches between the Tampa suburb of Brandon and downtown Tampa. The IKEA project created 500 construction jobs and 400 new, in-store jobs.  When the store opened, the Tampa area had been particularly hard hit by the effects of the economic downturn and jobs were being lost. The opening of IKEA and the number of jobs being created was widely anticipated and reported from the time that store was announced until several months after the opening. The presence of the IKEA store is expected to be a catalyst for additional redevelopment in the area.


Coral Square Shoppes Brownfield Site is Central to Fort Pierce Economic Redevelopment and has Received Outstanding Support from Residents, City, TCRPC and EPA


  • The Coral Square Shoppes retail plaza in Fort Pierce was severely damaged by Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in 2004. Tulepan Management, LLC, (Tulepan) acquired the property soon after with a vision for building a prototype hybrid power/lifestyle/retail center with plush landscaping, fountains, recreational and entertainment facilities.
  • More than 100 area residents signed a petition in support of Tulepan’s vision to turn the condemned property into a viable retail operation.
  • To support the revitalization effort, this project became the City’s first designated Brownfield, paving the way for local interest in Brownfields and seeding future designations.
  • Revitalization of the area is being further supported by numerous economic enhancements:
  • An $800,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Brownfield Economic Development Initiative (BEDI), which is co-sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Approximately $60,000 in voluntary cleanup tax credits
  • The benefits of the $40 million redevelopment effort for Coral Square Shoppes are numerous: providing quality commercial shopping for residents; bringing 570 permanent new jobs to the region; promoting economic and community development in a blighted area; improving regional economic stability; and increasing the local tax base. Total sales and property sales tax per year per one million dollar investment (40 million multiplied by 153,941 equals approximately $6,157,000).
  • The soil and groundwater at the retail center were impacted by solvents from a former dry cleaning facility. Tulepan has voluntarily committed to clean up the impacted area to residential standards in accordance with local, state and federal laws, under the guidance of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The soil remediation has been completed, and groundwater remediation is expected to begin this fall.
  • Construction will commence this summer with Phase I of the project. This phase will be anchored by a 16,663± square foot SAV-A-LOT Food Store.

    This project has the full support of the entire Fort Pierce community, its City Commissioners, and the Mayor. This project has also received support from numerous State politicians including Governor Crist, Senator Nelson, Congressman Klein, Congressman Rooney, State Senator Pruitt and State Senator Atwater.


Brownfield Redevelopment Success in Orange County, Florida: Used Tire Dump to Energy Production Facility

 “The Florida Brownfields Program, Orange County personnel and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) were extremely helpful with the success of this short time-frame cleanup and site development project,” reported Mr. Dan Baratta. 

Mr. Baratta purchased a 3.7 acre Industrial Park property in March 2007 after completing his due diligence and recognizing that some used tires were dumped at the site.  Upon initiating site development, he discovered the site had been used for burying tires, and proceeded to excavate and properly dispose the tires. As he came to realize that 88,000 tires required disposal, he sought financial assistance from local government. 

After inquiries to local officials, staff at the office of Commissioner Fred Brummer facilitated Mr. Baratta’s request for Orange County to designate his property as a Brownfield Site. On November 3, 2007, Orange County signed Resolution No. 2007-M-60 designating the property as the Baratta ROCC (Redeveloping Orange County Communities) Area and as a Brownfield Area for the Purpose of Environmental Remediation, Rehabilitation and Economic Development. FDEP provided Brownfields designation #BF480704001. 

Mr. Baratta retained HSW Engineering Inc. (HSW) to complete a Site Assessment Report (SAR) and facilitate preparation of a Brownfields Site Rehabilitation Agreement (BSRA) along with Legal Counsel from Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor and Reed, P.A. HSW developed a scope of work for the environmental investigation with the Orange County Environmental Protection Division and FDEP Brownfield’s program representatives. The work was fast-tracked to meet 2007 Brownfields funding application deadlines.  The SAR and BSRA were completed in December 2007. FDEP issued a Site Rehabilitation Completion Order (SRCO) on May 30, 2008. 

Mr. Baratta received Voluntary Cleanup Tax Credit grant funding for 50% of his incurred Solid Waste disposal costs. He also plans to apply for a Brownfields rehabilitation site related job creations grant. Mr. Baratta is currently building an ethanol production facility on the site with intent to provide fuel for Orange County fleet vehicles.

Brownfields Redevelopment Project Timeline

 ·         October, 2007 – Redevelopment begins and buried tires are discovered, excavated and disposed.

  • November 13, 2007 – Orange County signs resolution designating the site as a Brownfield Area.
  • November 16, 2007 – Mr. Baratta retains HSW Engineering, Inc. to complete a Site Assessment Report (SAR) and facilitate preparation of a Brownfields Site Rehabilitation Agreement (BSRA).
  • December 13, 2007 – SAR is completed and submitted to FDEP.
  • January 14, 2008 - BSRA completed and submitted to FDEP.
  • May 30, 2008 – FDEP issues Site Rehabilitation Agreement (SRCO).
  • July 2, 2008 Voluntary Cleanup Tax Credit Certificate issued.

 What Do We Do With All Those Used Tires?

Most tires go to ecyclers who charge money to take them for fuel supplement or mulch, because landfills don’t want them due to their volume and effects on landfill liners.

Tire disposers charge about $1 to $2 per tire or $80 to $100 per ton.

Florida has a Waste Tire Rule, Chapter 62-711, Florida Administrative Code that includes transporter and disposer permit, site notification, collector, processor facility, storage, collection center, and site closure requirements.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection recognizes the high potential for improper disposal of waste tires due to recycling cost in their Environmental Crimes Handbook.