Environmental Due Diligence
The former Joseph & Feiss/Hugo Boss site at West 53rd Street is considered a “brownfield” site. According to the USEPA, a brownfield is “real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.” As a part of our due diligence in evaluating the possibility of developing this site, the Board is reviewing the status of the any potential environmental concerns at the site.
To perform this detailed study, we have retained the services of John Zampino of the Mannik & Smith Group, Inc. Mr. Zampino is a certified professional (CP) licensed by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Voluntary Action Program (VAP). Ohio’s VAP provides a detailed process to evaluate impacts to soil, groundwater or soil vapor and the requirements to return a property to beneficial use. The CP oversees the environmental investigation and once all requirements are met, issues a “No Further Action” (NFA) letter for the property. Upon review and concurrence, the Ohio EPA will issue a Covenant Not to Sue (CNS) for the property.
In addition, on this project, Mr. Zampino will be working through each phase of the investigation with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). Once we complete the investigation and any potential remediation work, the US EPA will provide a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) concurring that the investigation appropriately followed their process. The objectives of this process are to make sure that the investigation and evaluation activities sufficiently evaluate the site conditions as well as to make sure that any remedial actions deemed necessary result in site conditions that are protective of human-health and the environment.
This facility has undergone several iterations of investigation conducted in accordance with Ohio’s VAP over the last ten years. Based upon the data collected to date, the site has been deemed suitable for residential development, which is consistent with educational use. Originally, the site contained an office building, manufacturing building and warehouse. Today, only the office and warehouse buildings remain. While the manufacturing operations included some dry cleaning, no evidence has been found of any widespread impacts to soil or groundwater. Currently, an investigation into the condition of soil vapor underneath the basement of the warehouse building is underway. This is a new requirement and will provide even more details than has been reviewed previously. Areas where there are known to be petroleum impacted soil (at depth) will be covered with asphalt or concrete to make sure that no one comes in contact with that impacted material while providing parking, basketball courts, etc.
Ohio’s VAP and MOA Processes & Other Brownfield Sites
These processes of evaluation and remediation following the VAP and MOA processes are used all over Ohio for all types of sites. As an example, our consultant is currently working on a project with Miceli Dairy Company (Miceli’s) that is similar to our project in that the property that Miceli’s plans to expand onto is a brownfield. Miceli's manufactures specialty Italian cheeses right here in Cleveland that are sold nationwide. When they needed to expand, they decided to use an adjacent 16 acres formerly occupied by a facility producing rolled steel in the early 1900s and later by a facility that produced plated parts for the automobile industry. By the late 1990s the entire 16 acres was unused, contained extensive areas of construction and demolition debris, tires, and 55-gallon drums. Understanding that the redevelopment would include warehousing of raw materials and production of food, it was necessary to thoroughly evaluate the environmental conditions of the property. Of primary concern was eliminating any contaminants from the property that posed a concern to the manufacturing of food products as well as ensuring that the site would be protective of the health of workers, thus eliminating any stigmatization that is typically associated with brownfield properties.
To assist Miceli’s in attaining their goal, Mr. Zampino first prepared an Ohio (VAP) Phase I Property Assessment (PA) that identified 35 areas of environmental concern. The environmental concerns included underground storage tanks, oil storage buildings, plating (electro and mechanical), hydraulic presses, machine shops, wood block flooring, solvent storage and hazardous waste storage. Contaminants identified include volatile organic compounds, semi-volatile organic compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls, heavy metals, cyanide and zinc. The Phase II PA included the collection of 300 soil samples and 75 ground water samples that were evaluated via a risk assessment to determine the locations that would require remediation. Using the site redevelopment plan, Mr. Zampino is able to focus remedial efforts that will serve Miceli’s in the best manner.
This is just one example of a how a local company is renovating an old industrial site for a new purpose.