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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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'BROWNFIELDS.' "Brownfields" in 2015 referred to vacant or under-utilized properties possibly contaminated with hazardous substances or pollutants that hindered development or expansion. Grayfield sites, by contrast, were "abandoned public buildings, industrial or commercial properties that are vacant, blighted, obsolete or otherwise underutilized. (1) In 2015 city officials announced that they intended to use two grants from the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency totaling $400,000 to minimize risks for landowners who redevelop the properties by paying for environmental assessments of sites within the historic Millwork District, South Port area and the Washington Neighborhood. (2)

The program would be voluntary. Landowners who participated were eligible to receive free site assessments which normally cost between $2,000 to $80,000. Investigations began with compiling records of the historic uses of the site and nearby properties to determine potential for environmental hazards. If there were concerns, groundwater samples would be taken to determine types and concentrations of contamination and choose areas that would need to be cleaned up. If high levels of contamination were found, a report would be sent to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. If cleanup was needed, funding could be possible through the EPA or DNR. Property owners could be held responsible if their actions had led to the contamination. (3)

In 2018 owners of six area projects, of which three were in Dubuque, were awarded a total of $2.5 million in tax credits from the Iowa Economic Development Authority. The Wilmac Property Company redevelopment of a five-story building at 275 E. 10th St. received a $750,000 credit. Plans called for the top four floors to be developed for commercial office space and the first floor to be renovated into mixed commercial/retail space. A second recipient of tax credits totaling $600,000 was a 1905 former lumber shed at 250 E. 8th St. Prescott LLC planned to add a mezzanine inside the building and convert the warehouse into office space. STEEPLE SQUARE developer SS Event Center received $200,000. (4)

In June, 2019 the City of Dubuque was awarded an $800,000 grant from the EPA to further pursue revitalization of potentially contaminated sites. The Multipurpose, Assessment and Cleanup grant would support the expansion, redevelopment or reuse of properties where there was the potential of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants. It was estimated that there were more than one hundred such locations in the city. City officials at the time the grant was issued indicated their interest in spending the money in the SOUTH PORT and Washington Neighborhood or "North End." The grant, the largest brownfield allocation ever received by the city, had to be invested with three years. (5)



1. Fisher, Benjamin, "Brownfields Net Green," Telegraph Herald, October 27, 2018, p. 1

2. Barton, Thomas J. "City Targets Stigma of 'Brownfields," Telegraph Herald, May 31, 2015, p. 13A

3. Ibid.

4. Fisher, p. 2A

5. Montgomery, Jeff, "Dubuque Receives $800,000 Grant From EPA," Telegraph Herald, June 6, 2019, p. 3A