Brownfield Redevelopment, EPA Grant Study – Downtown Cordova, AL

Looking to revitalize communities, The Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham (RPCGB) retained PM Environmental, a Pinchin Company (PM) to provide Economic Incentive Consulting. With PM’s assistance, an EPA Assessment Grant of $500,000 was secured for the Region in 2022.

Established in 1963, RPCGB provides planning services for 6 counties and 84 communities in Central Alabama. The Region includes Blount, Chilton, Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair, and Walker Counties, occupying a total of 4,745 square miles and home to roughly 1,110,000 people. In the late 19th Century, the Region’s economy quickly shifted from subsistence agriculture to mining, steel, and textile production. Communities that were originally developed around a primary employer were hardest hit as manufacturing declined in the late 20th Century.  As a result, many residents relocated from the Region’s smaller communities to the more economically diverse city of Birmingham for employment opportunities. Today, these small towns still struggle to regain their economic footing because of the loss of jobs, reduced populations, and declining resources. Brownfield properties were created as the result of this economic shift.

The City of Cordova, one of the small towns in the Region negatively affected by the shift in regional economics, was selected a focus area for RPCGB’s Brownfields Grant.  Cordova is also one of the many Greater Birmingham communities that were deeply affected by a violent tornado outbreak in 2011. On April 27, 2011, Downtown Cordova was struck by two violent tornadoes in just 12 hours.  The tornadoes destroyed the majority of Downtown Cordova and now only a few commercial buildings remain.

Trey Noland, P.G., a senior project manager for PM Environmental in Birmingham, AL, presented on RPCGB’s Brownfield Grant as part of a public hearing at the start of the Cordova City Council meeting on March 12, 2024. Twelve parcels in Downtown Cordova were assessed by PM with no significant environmental contamination encountered that would prevent redevelopment, he reported.

Community Impact:

The majority of Downtown Cordova has remained vacant since the 2011 tornadoes. In areas where there is sufficient demand, developers will cover the cost of environmental due diligence themselves. “This grant money helps bridge that gap. A lot of this funding comes from the bipartisan infrastructure bill that was passed a couple of years ago. The whole idea is that this program is trying to put money into communities that need it the most.” – Trey Noland 

PM plans to assist RPCGB in applying for additional funding for FY25 to assess other properties in the Region. A secondary inventory is being developed and additional focus areas are being evaluated for that grant application.

Services Provided

  • Phase I & II ESAs
  • Due Care Activities
  • Asbestos Containing Materials Survey
  • Financial Incentives Consulting
  • Grant Writing and Management
  • Community Engagement
  • Downtown Redevelopment Planning



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