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MDI Superfund Site near Clinton Dr. and Waco St

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I heard about this large plot being sold about 8 months ago, but haven't heard or seen anything since. I confirmed with the EPA that the deal closed, so I wonder why clean-up hasn't started?

Here is the last Chroincle article I could find:

"Paper: Houston Chronicle

Date: Wed 06/21/2006

Section: B

Page: 8

Edition: 3 STAR

Superfund solution / Private cleanup of a contaminated site in Fifth Ward could provide a national model.

Staff

SINCE being abandoned as a metal casting foundry in 1992, the 36-acre Many Diversified Interests Inc. site off I-10 East has been a visual eyesore and toxic waste threat to surrounding neighborhoods and a nearby school. Over the years, lead, arsenic and other contaminants in the property's topsoil have washed onto adjacent playgrounds and yards, undermining economic revitalization of the area.

That may be changing thanks to a first-ever proposed agreement between the federal Environmental Protection Agency and a purchaser. Under the agreement, the nonliable private party pays to clean up a Superfund site. The prospective buyer, Clinton Gregg Investments, L.P., entered a winning auction bid of $7.8 million, including an estimated $6.6 million tab for the removal of contaminants. The site, near downtown, will likely be used for housing and thus require the highest level of pollution remediation.

While the use of private dollars to clean up a toxic waste dump is welcome, it limits avenues for community input, and residents in the area bounded by the freeway and Bringhurst and Waco streets are rightly eager to influence the site's future. Gentrification is already changing formerly low-income zones around downtown, where rising property values are creating a tax crunch for longtime homeowners.

"The issues are layered," said Reginald Adams, a Sierra Club organizer who resides near the MDI site. "You have gentrification, increased property values, a geriatric community and a housing project that has received an unsolicited bid for redevelopment." His environmental group is partnering with the Fifth Ward Superneighborhood Council No. 55 to educate residents about the MDI sale. The council held a neighborhood meeting to gather recommendations for the redevelopment.

Since the massive project will require some improvements to city infrastructure, Adams hopes residents can wield some political clout and the developers will have an incentive to cooperate in planning adequate green space and a mix of commercial and residential amenities in the project. The unique solution proposed for the MDI site won't work everywhere, because not every toxic Superfund site sits upon land valuable enough to pay for its own cleanup. The prospective Houston buyers will perform a valuable civic service and provide a role model for the nation if they can convert a poisoned property into a tax-generating development, while working with longtime residents to create a mutually compatible community."

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The latest I have heard is that InTown Homes developer has purchased the area to continue building their single family homes in the upper east end.

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The project is being developed by InTown/Lovett Homes. The architect is Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company (DPZ).

http://www.dpz.com/project.aspx?Project_Nu...;type=undefined

Seventh at 5th, formerly the MDI site, is a 38-acre former superfund cleanup industrial tract located 2 miles to the east of downtown Houston. The extensive environmental remediation was paid entirely by the developer. The site is bound by an operating vinegar factory, a public housing development, a number of deteriorating shotgun houses, several new town home developments, a new school, . Constraining the site are various easements, which influenced the design of two plan options.

The first option extends the existing grid and subsumes the easements into the block structure, allowing the neighborhood to be bisected with an east to west linear green/pedestrian mall. The second option features a more organic block structure using the various easements and thin angles to create distinct sub-neighborhoods each with their own central green. Both plans include a proposed neighborhood commercial center to the south of the site, residences at 22 units per acre with a wide range of housing types and explicitly sustainable urban design. When built, Seventh at 5th promises to bring urbanity and stability to a neighborhood that is already showing signs of regeneration.

0708-MDI-MP2_z.jpg

0708-MDI-MP1_z.jpg

0708-Block-Full-Perimeter-CRitter_z.jpg

0708-Watercolor-StElevation-01_z.jpg

I heard about this large plot being sold about 8 months ago, but haven't heard or seen anything since. I confirmed with the EPA that the deal closed, so I wonder why clean-up hasn't started?

Here is the last Chroincle article I could find:

"Paper: Houston Chronicle

Date: Wed 06/21/2006

Section: B

Page: 8

Edition: 3 STAR

Superfund solution / Private cleanup of a contaminated site in Fifth Ward could provide a national model.

Staff

SINCE being abandoned as a metal casting foundry in 1992, the 36-acre Many Diversified Interests Inc. site off I-10 East has been a visual eyesore and toxic waste threat to surrounding neighborhoods and a nearby school. Over the years, lead, arsenic and other contaminants in the property's topsoil have washed onto adjacent playgrounds and yards, undermining economic revitalization of the area.

That may be changing thanks to a first-ever proposed agreement between the federal Environmental Protection Agency and a purchaser. Under the agreement, the nonliable private party pays to clean up a Superfund site. The prospective buyer, Clinton Gregg Investments, L.P., entered a winning auction bid of $7.8 million, including an estimated $6.6 million tab for the removal of contaminants. The site, near downtown, will likely be used for housing and thus require the highest level of pollution remediation.

While the use of private dollars to clean up a toxic waste dump is welcome, it limits avenues for community input, and residents in the area bounded by the freeway and Bringhurst and Waco streets are rightly eager to influence the site's future. Gentrification is already changing formerly low-income zones around downtown, where rising property values are creating a tax crunch for longtime homeowners.

"The issues are layered," said Reginald Adams, a Sierra Club organizer who resides near the MDI site. "You have gentrification, increased property values, a geriatric community and a housing project that has received an unsolicited bid for redevelopment." His environmental group is partnering with the Fifth Ward Superneighborhood Council No. 55 to educate residents about the MDI sale. The council held a neighborhood meeting to gather recommendations for the redevelopment.

Since the massive project will require some improvements to city infrastructure, Adams hopes residents can wield some political clout and the developers will have an incentive to cooperate in planning adequate green space and a mix of commercial and residential amenities in the project. The unique solution proposed for the MDI site won't work everywhere, because not every toxic Superfund site sits upon land valuable enough to pay for its own cleanup. The prospective Houston buyers will perform a valuable civic service and provide a role model for the nation if they can convert a poisoned property into a tax-generating development, while working with longtime residents to create a mutually compatible community."

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Thanks for the info Lucky - that is pretty exciting news. I glance at the site when I am driving on I-10, but it looks to my uneducated eye like they are just moving dirt around.

I wonder what the time frame on this is - sounds like a ways out.

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I personally love the design especially the huge arch in the center.

Just a tad of FYI, this spot of proposed construction is or has never been considered "East End". Its a world away from us. The spot is more commonly and historically known as Near North East Houston. Its north of Navigation so that truly puts it away from us. I encourage others to take a short drive there and comment on what they experience. I will leave it at that. :)

http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?searc...=tx&zipcode=

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Am I the only one concerned that the private entity is "nonliable" in the cleanup effort?

The idea is that if Lovett cleans it up to the standards set forth in law, and those standards turn out to have been inadequate, it isn't Lovett's fault that the law was inadequate. If a developer like Lovett was forced to take on liability for dangers that haven't even been identified as dangers yet, there's no way in hell that any developer would ever build anything on a superfund site, ever. It wouldn't be worth the risk.

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Update: From the EPA - June 2008

The EPA will hold an Open House to discuss the current and planned activities for OUs 1 and 3. The EPA will provide a brief background of the entire Site. The purchases will discuss the cleanup and planned activities for OU 1, including conceptual development plans for the future. The Open House will be held:

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

7 p.m.

Blanhe Kelso Bruce Elementary School

(New School)

510Jensen Drive

Houston, Texas 77020

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Supposedly, Frank Liu seems to be having a bit of a problem on how he is going to pack townhomes on this plot. According to Frank, the city doesn't plan on helping combat costs for utility hookups. Instead the city wants Clinton Gregg Investments to create a MUD for the property. Frank said he has tried to get Jarvis Johnson's assistance but his hands are "tied".

If this project is supposed to be LEED certified then why wont the city assist instead of hindering the project. I'd like to hear more on the city's take as I really find it hard to believe the city would hinder progress on a LEED project.

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Supposedly, Frank Liu seems to be having a bit of a problem on how he is going to pack townhomes on this plot. According to Frank, the city doesn't plan on helping combat costs for utility hookups. Instead the city wants Clinton Gregg Investments to create a MUD for the property. Frank said he has tried to get Jarvis Johnson's assistance but his hands are "tied".

If this project is supposed to be LEED certified then why wont the city assist instead of hindering the project. I'd like to hear more on the city's take as I really find it hard to believe the city would hinder progress on a LEED project.

Frank is a tough negotiator and he's probably playing an angle. For the sake of his project, I'd suggest that you not stir the pot by revealing insider info on this particular matter.

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Just curious if anyone knew anything going on with this development? I'm sure like many things it is stalled b/c of the economy... But just curious if some of you well-connected types konws anything specific.

Maybe Obama will see it as a shovel-ready project... :P Nothing like building a bunch of yuppie townhomes to get the economy going...

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