The state is rolling out a $15 million low-interest loan program meant to cover the costs of environmental clean-up and eventual redevelopment of polluted sites across New Jersey.
Applications for this form of state aid, known as the Brownfields Loan Program, are open now through April 13 so that developers, property owners and prospective buyers can turn contaminated sites across the state into commercial, residents, retail or mixed-use projects, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority announced on Feb. 8.
Loans of between $100,000 and $5 million to cover different aspects of the clean-up, including the “assessment, investigation, and demolition,” the NJEDA website reads.
“It is one of the only funding sources available to cover pre-construction planning, demolition, asbestos, PCB removal, and lead-based paint remediation,” the application webpage continues.
The loans last 10 years and the interest rates are pegged between 2% and 3%. Those rates can be lowered for mixed-use residential projects with affordable housing; construction of grocery stores in urban food deserts; health care centers in some of the state’s most impoverished and distressed municipalities; non-gambling tourism destinations; projects with electric vehicle parking; projects that will include incubators or collaborative workspaces; and projects that include the revitalization and redevelopment of historic properties.
Payments can be deferred for the first two years, and then for the two years after that, developers are only on the hook for interest payments, according to Elizabeth Limbrick, a senior Brownfields advisor at the NJEDA.
“If we want New Jersey to continue to grow and prosper, we need to have places that we can develop in a sustainable way,” Limbrick said during the Monday morning press announcement, made at Mill One, a historic property in Trenton which stood as a textile factory in the 19th century after being developed for mixed-use office and commercial space.
“By developing Brownfields we can transform blighted properties into community assets – places where businesses can grow and create jobs for New Jersey residents,” Limbrick said.
The $15 million loan program is the precursor to a much larger $50 million per year economic incentive program, which the NJEDA will roll out later this year. That tax credit program will run six years to entice environmental clean-up and redevelopment. Projects under that will be capped at $4 million, with these tax breaks according to Limbrick, the tax breaks can be sold for cash to other businesses.
That tax credit part of a much larger $14.5 billion incentive program called the New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020. Progressives and good government advocates panned Murphy and lawmakers for rushing the package through the Legislature and past his desk in a matter of weeks.
The bill is hundreds of pages long, and lawmakers and the public were left with little time to digest the legislation or the hundreds of pages of added amendments.
“Supporting brownfields revitalization projects that transform dangerous, contaminated sites into valuable community assets is crucial to building vibrant neighborhoods and spurring equitable economic growth throughout New Jersey,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a Monday morning statement.