Municipal Setting Designations

Our firm has been involved with a significant number of the MSDs certified to date by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Those MSDs have made possible hundreds of millions of dollars in new real estate development. Two of the firm’s MSD projects are described below.

Wood Partners

Wood Partners is a regional developer known for tackling projects on environmentally-challenged sites in major metropolitan markets. Our firm represented Wood Partners with environmental aspects of the redevelopment of an abandoned site across the highway from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.

The 15 acre tract was part of a river bottom area utilized as a landfill in the late nineteenth and early twentieth that extended to the east, south, and west of the site. Numerous petroleum, pesticide, metal, and chlorinated groundwater and soil contaminants were noted during early investigation activities, which, along with subsurface methane concentrations, presented a substantial barrier to redevelopment. After analyzing the engineering challenges of building on top of the existing landfill, the client chose to remove the waste from the site, rather than developing over it.

The waste removed aggregated over 110,000 cubic yards. Our firm assisted the client in obtaining a Municipal Setting Designation to address regional groundwater concerns. The site subsequently received regulatory closure under the VCP in August 2008 with TCEQ’s issuance of a Certificate of Completion. The total costs of investigation, remediation and regulatory closure totaled approximately $3.8 million.

The project brought over 300 new residences to a redeveloping section of the city and significantly increases Dallas’ tax base on a site previously considered as undevelopable. Urban landfills have long been seen as the last major hurdle to Brownfield redevelopment. This project serves as a great example of working with state and local municipalities to accomplish redevelopment goals. The end result created jobs, uses existing infrastructure, and eliminated environmental contamination previously left unaddressed.

Balcones Realty Partners

Our firm represented Balcones Realty Partners in connection with a redevelopment project involving a 37 acre assemblage of nine properties in Dallas. The properties had various known or suspected environmental issues related to commercial and industrial uses conducted at the various properties. GSF advised structuring the transaction to enable Balcones to resolve the major areas of uncertainty before taking title to the various properties.

The firm coordinated the remediation and closure strategy for the site using a Municipal Setting Designation for the entire site, which the firm was able to obtain for the client from the City of Dallas and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. By aggregating the sites in to a single MSD, Balcones was able to resolve long-standing conflicts among adjacent property owners regarding migration of contaminated groundwater.

The client received a Voluntary Cleanup Program Certificate of Completion from the TCEQ in June 2008 for the site, which is awaiting redevelopment. The site is located in a revitalizing area near the campus of University of Texas Southwestern Medical School where commercial and industrial uses are being replaced by residential development and the redevelopment will bring retail shopping into a traditionally underserved area of the city.

Developers had previously avoided the area due to the history of regulatory problems and litigation associated with two of the keys tracts in the assemblage. GSF was effective in educating Balcones’ out-of-state investors and its banker that an MSD strategy was politically feasible and that it would be effective in resolving the most worrisome environmental issues at the site, thus allowing financing to be put in place before final resolution of the regulatory process.