The City’s FY 2020 site revitalization and assessment grant builds on activities completed under funding provided by a FY 2015 EPA brownfield assessment grant. This portion of the website documents success stories from the FY 2015 grant.
2015 Program Closeout Report
The City’s FY 2015 EPA Community‐Wide Assessment Grant was intended to create a sustainable brownfields program for the City, focused on revitalizing properties in the City’s downtown core and along the Union Pacific Railroad and Highway 99 corridors. These focus areas are comprised of five targeted communities which make up some of Lodi’s most economically distressed and culturally diverse neighborhoods and include many brownfield sites. The grant provided assessment activities in support of sale and reuse of several dilapidated and underused buildings in downtown Lodi; market analysis for adaptive reuse of Lodi’s largest industrial facility, and site assessment in support of building a hotel on a portion of the property; Phase I environmental site assessment (ESA) of multiple vacant and underutilized properties, several of which have subsequently sold to buyers with redevelopment plans; and building an inventory of brownfield sites to allow assessment of funding needs for future grants.
World of Wonders Science Museum
North Sacramento Street, multiple addresses
A major success of the grant program was completing assessment activities in support of a planned expansion of the World of Wonders (WoW) Science Museum in downtown Lodi. The properties, consisting of one‐and two‐story commercial buildings dating to the late 1800s on parcels with a combined area of approximately 0.75 acres, have been used for a variety of commercial purposes (saloons, barbershops, restaurants, etc.) and are currently about 80 percent vacant. The project will serve to advance the reuse and revitalization of the City’s historic downtown – which was a key priority identified for the EPA FY 2015 assessment grant.
Representative photos of underutilized North Sacramento Street properties acquired by WoW
The WoW museum is a children’s science museum which offers educational, hands‐on science exhibits and programs intended in part to help to counter a decrease in the science curricula offered in local public schools. The project supported by the EPA grant is the proposed construction of an expanded museum facility on five dilapidated and underutilized parcels located across the street from their existing facility. The new facility with feature an outdoor “Science Plaza” as well as a planetarium, expanded exhibit space, and classrooms. The EPA grant funded Phase I ESAs, Phase II ESAs, and regulated building materials surveys performed on five parcels to facilitate acquisition, to identify abatement requirements for the existing buildings to be demolished, and to inform future redevelopment plans and requirements for potential soil management and vapor mitigation measures. Since the assessment work was performed, WoW has successfully purchased several of the properties and is in process of raising funds to complete additional acquisitions, abatement and demolition of the buildings, and the initial phases of construction. A rendering of planned facility is presented below. Expansion of the museum is expected to be a significant catalyst for additional redevelopment of properties in the downtown core.
Former General Mills Site
2000 Turner Road
The former General Mills site occupies 66 acres and represents one of the largest industrial properties in the City of Lodi. The site was a cereal manufacturing facility operated by General Mills between 1946 and 2015. Previous property use was as an orchard dating to at least the 1930s. The closing of the General Mills plant resulted in a loss of 430 manufacturing jobs and an estimated 800 indirect jobs dependent on the facility. After closure, the facility was purchased by another manufacturing business; however, its operations were limited to assembly and warehouse uses and made use of only approximately 20 percent of the facility. Due to its historical use, the site has very good access to all infrastructure necessary for large‐scale industrial use with high‐volume water, electrical, and sewer services. The site represents an important economic development asset for the City of Lodi and an industrial operation of this magnitude could not readily be duplicated elsewhere in the City. The City has contemplated adaptive reuse scenarios focused on food and/or wine production to take advantage of the region’s status of a wine-producing destination. The City’s FY 2015 assessment grant funded a market analysis on behalf of the City and the current property owner. The goal of the study was to evaluate the market conditions for reuse of the facility for a number of potential permanent or interim reuse options. The study identified key roadblocks to adaptive reuse (such as the large size and highly specialized nature of site improvements) and recommended reuse scenarios based on existing conditions (such as majority industrial use). The study provided recommendations for business recruitment strategies and proposed alternative reuse strategies that would discourage development of blight, facilitate maintenance of the site, and contribute to local job creation. The City continues to work with the property owner to identify and develop potential tenants and adaptive reuse strategies.
Lake House Development Project
1018 North Lower Sacramento Road
The Lake House project site consists of an 8.8‐acre portion of the former General Mills facility located north of Turner Road that was sold to a developer in 2017. The site was historically used as an orchard and during General Mills’ active years was used for offloading materials from heavy rail connected to the main plant to the south.
Current aerial view of property (left) and architectural rendering of proposed development (right)
The current owner is developing the site into a mixed‐use project consisting of a 100‐unit resort hotel and banquet facility, 148 residential units, and a combined 18,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. The project site is located immediately west of Lodi Lake, a popular regional recreational facility, and is likely to spur additional economic investment along the Turner Road corridor. The City supported the redevelopment effort by using the EPA brownfields grant to conduct Phase I and II ESAs to identify potential environmental issues associated with proposed mixed commercial/residential use of the former industrial property. Potential environmental concerns identified during the Phase I ESA included use of the property as orchard and potential impacts associated with the railroad right‐of‐way passing through the property. The Phase II ESA results indicated that significant soil impacts were not present, and the project is proceeding. An additional redevelopment concern was an existing ‘peaker’ power plant operated by Northern California Power Authority (NCPA) is located east and immediately adjacent to the Lake House project site. As part of the project’s environmental review process, the developer was required to determine if noise from the power plant would negatively impact site tenants and residents, and if so, identify appropriate mitigation measures. Assessment grant funding was subsequently used to fund approximately 50 percent of the costs for a noise study with the remaining 50 percent funded by the developer. The study consisted of developing an appropriate data collection plan in consultation with NCPA and key project stakeholders, collecting sound measurements during peak operation of the power plant, modeling sound exposure to future site receptors, and identifying appropriate mitigation measures to be implemented at the power plant and onsite during the redevelopment process.
Sunset Cinema Site / Alexander’s Bakery
1110 / 1100 West Lodi Avenue
The former Sunset Cinema and Alexander’s Bakery sites comprise two adjacent brownfield parcels with a combined area of approximately one acre located along West Lodi Avenue, one of Lodi’s major commercial corridors. The cinema building (a traditional one‐screen cinema) was constructed in 1950, operated until 1998, and has been vacant since. Alexander’s Bakery has an approximate 76‐year history in Lodi, moving to the West Lodi Avenue location in approximately 1973. The bakery closed in 2003 and was operated sporadically by various tenants in subsequent years. The City appropriated EPA assessment grant funding to complete a Phase I ESA on behalf of a local resident who purchased the Sunset Cinema property in 2019 and is in negotiations to purchase the adjacent Alexander’s Bakery property. The current owner is a life‐long Lodi resident who attended the Sunset Cinema during its heyday and intends to restore the theater and expand the adjacent Alexander’s Bakery site into an event and entertainment center consisting of 3,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and expanding the floor plan of the theater by approximately 5,000 square feet. Findings of the Phase I ESA identified the likely presence of lead‐based paint and asbestos‐containing building materials, and the owner has applied approximately $180,000 of leveraged funding to abate hazardous materials in the theater building in preparation for redevelopment.
14‐16 Pine Street
The property at 14‐16 Pine Street consists of a two‐story 4,750 square foot commercial building located in downtown Lodi, built in the late 1800s. The property was occupied by a clothing store at the time of assessment and has been used for a variety of commercial endeavors including retail, restaurants, florist, pharmacy, etc. The City used EPA brownfields assessment grant funding to conduct a Phase I ESA assessment on behalf of the property owner who was marketing the property for sale. The property was sold in 2017, and based on findings of the Phase I ESA, the new owner applied approximately $70,000 in leveraged funding to abate hazardous building materials in preparation for redevelopment. The renovated building will provide approximately 7,000 square feet of retail and office space.
214 – 216 South Sacramento Street
The property at 214‐216 South Sacramento Street is located on the eastern edge of Lodi’s downtown adjacent to the UPRR rail corridor. The property, consisting of a one‐story building on approximately 0.5 acre, was developed and operated as an automotive sale and repair facility by 1957. The site operated as automotive‐related businesses until approximately 2000 and was subsequently occupied by an auction house company. The City used assessment grant funding to conduct a Phase I site assessment on behalf of the property owner who was marketing the property for sale. The property has subsequently sold, and the current owner is marketing the site as the ‘Barrel Yard Building’, a 20,000‐square‐foot mixed‐use ‘open span market concept’ which will house merchants including food and wine vendors, boutique shops, and restaurants. The property owner anticipates a community gathering spot that will likely spur additional investment along the former rail corridor.
22 East Locust Street
The site comprises an approximately 0.8‐acre vacant lot on the edge of the City’s downtown adjacent to the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) rail corridor. It was first developed in 1884 and has been used for a variety of commercial purposes. A Phase I ESA completed using EPA brownfields assessment grant funding identified several recognized environmental conditions (RECs) based on the area’s extensive historical industrial and commercial land uses. Because the City is contemplating adaptive reuse as a community gardening center, a Phase II ESA was completed to characterize concentrations of chemicals of concern in shallow soil. The assessment determined that target chemicals did not exceed conservative risk‐based screening criteria. The City is actively marketing the property for redevelopment.
Lessons Learned/Best Practices
Following is a discussion of lessons learned and best practices that may be relevant to other communities or organizations implementing EPA brownfields assessment grants:
Staff Turnover and Maintenance of Institutional Knowledge:
The implementation period for the City’s FY 2015 EPA grant was marked by significant turnover of City staff. Although significant grant objectives were ultimately achieved, it was at times difficult to maintain momentum given the departure of City staff responsible for implementing the grant. One consideration for communities implementing similar grants is to closely examine the grantee’s programmatic capacity and endeavor to involve staff that 1) are engaged and committed to successful implementation of the grant, and 2) expect to remain at their position over the life of the grant. This is also key to implementation of a sustainable brownfields program that successfully competes for multiple grants over time. Other suggestions include inclusion of multiple grantee staff on the brownfields advisory committee.
Developer Outreach: One way the grant was successful was by making proponents of development projects aware of how grant‐funded activities could support their in‐progress development projects. The grant successfully supported expansion of the WoW science museum by providing site assessment (shallow soils and building materials) in and around dilapidated buildings that are slated for demolition, allowing the project proponent to be able to calculate building materials abatement costs. The City also found unconventional ways to successfully apply grant funding, such as partially funding an acoustical study associated with the Lake House development project. These goals were accomplished due to City staff being aware of ongoing projects and being willing to make introductions to move these projects forward.
Use of Petroleum versus Hazardous Substance Funding: The need to balance expenditure of hazardous substance versus petroleum funding was an on‐going challenge throughout the project. In general, hazardous substance funding was easier to utilize. The challenges were exacerbated by a change in the petroleum eligibility approval process during the grant implementation period (with the State of California Department of Toxic Substances Control taking over responsibility from EPA midway through the project). In addition, the site eligibility determination forms did not seem to fully align with eligibility rules as detailed in various EPA guidance documents. A valuable resource that does not currently exist would be an EPA guidance document presenting eligibility information currently distributed within multiple resources.
WoW Science Museum: The assessment activities performed in support of the WoW Science Museum project provided several valuable lessons. One was the efficiencies in conducting multi‐parcel Phase I and II ESAs. An interesting site environmental concern was a historic fire in the late 1800s that destroyed the initial commercial buildings constructed on the site.
Former General Mills Plant: The former General Mills Plant provided several valuable insights. One was that even when a former major manufacturing facility is sold to support continued industrial use, it may remain significantly underutilized (and a “brownfield”). The market study presented several challenges, in creating a plan that appropriately considered the unique infrastructure assets for the property relevant to continued industrial, and the implications of various reuse scenarios in terms of tax revenues – which depend on the specific property tax rules in a given state and municipality.
Grant‐funded activities resulted in several examples of leveraged resources, summarized below.
- World of Wonders Science Museum ‐ Assessment reports generated regarding hazardous building materials and shallow soil conditions will be used to accurately assess abatement costs associated with the museum expansion project.
- Lake House Development Project ‐ The assessment grant funded 50 percent of the costs for the required noise survey, with the remaining 50 percent paid for by the developer. The grant also funded Phase I/II ESAs which allowed the developer to better understand potential environmental issues related to proposed reuse of the site.
- Sunset Cinema Site / Alexander’s Bakery – The grant-funded completion of a Phase I ESA supported transfer of the bakery site. Findings of the Phase I ESA identified the likely presence of lead‐based paint and asbestos‐containing building materials, and the owner has subsequently expended approximately $180,000 in private leveraged funding to abate hazardous materials in the theater building in preparation for redevelopment.
- 14‐16 Pine Street ‐ Based on findings of the Phase I ESA, the new owner invested approximately $70,000 in leveraged funding to abate hazardous building materials in preparation for redevelopment.
The most significant accomplishment with respect to helping the City maintain momentum for future transformation of brownfield properties was the successful application for a $300,000 FY 2020 EPA brownfields assessment grant. The focus of the FY2020 grant will be to build on the successes of the FY2015 grant, to apply the lessons learned and to put the pieces in place for a long‐term and sustainable City of Lodi brownfields program.
FY 2015 Work Plan Accomplishments
The following is a description of accomplishments pertaining to each task of the FY 2015 project’s Cooperative Agreement Work Plan (CA Work Plan).
Task 1 – Brownfield Inventory and Prioritization. The City created a brownfield inventory of the target area that was successfully used to guide redevelopment activities and will be a starting point for the FY2020 grant which will also focus on the UPRR corridor. The inventory consists of GIS‐based maps and a tabulated system for identifying and ranking brownfield sites.
Task 2 – Phase I ESAs. The CA Work Plan proposed completion of eligibility determination requests and subsequent Phase I ESAs at 12 sites. A total of 15 Phase I ESAs were completed under the grant.
Task 3 – Phase II ESAs, Remedial Action Plans, and Area‐Wide Planning. The City completed a comprehensive Quality Assurance Project Plan, submitted site‐specific Sampling and Analysis Plans (SAPs) for seven sites (included a combined SAP for properties at the WoW project site), and completed Phase II ESAs for the seven sites (versus a goal in the CA Work Plan of completing six Phase II ESAs). The grant funded a market analysis for the former General Mills site and a noise mitigation study for the Lake House development. Supplemental Phase II ESAs, Remedial Action Plans, and Area‐Wide Planning documents were not completed because 1) in general, conditions at sites assessed did not warrant remediation given the proposed reuse scenarios, and 2) the need for remedial or area‐wide planning studies was not identified during the period of the grant for a majority of the properties assessed.
Task 4 – Community Outreach and Public Involvement. The City hosted a brownfield advisory committee (BAC) kick‐off meeting in April 2016 which featured general information about the brownfields grant program, examples of typical brownfield success stories, fact sheets, and information on the site nomination process. Additional BAC update meetings were held in June 2016 and March 2017 that provided timely updates on grant‐funded activities and solicited input on priority brownfield sites. Additional BAC meetings were not held due to 1) staff turnover at the City, and 2) because the final trajectory of the grant was generally determined and not contingent on the site nomination process.
Task 5 – Other Eligible Program Activities. Reporting and Staff Training/Travel. The City completed quarterly and annual project reporting as required, and City staff attended the national brownfields training conference in December 2019.
Community-Wide Assessment Spreadsheet
A community-wide assessment spreadsheet is attached and all ACRES site entries are up to date.
The following table summarizes the closing balance on the FY 2015 assessment grant. As indicated, all funding has been utilized.
|Costs Incurred to Date