KANSAS CITY, KAN. — Iowa City, Iowa, has been selected as one of five sustainable communities pilot projects in the United States as part of a partnership between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The Smart Growth pilots are part of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s initiative to bring HUD, DOT, and EPA together in areas where there are formerly contaminated sites, transportation infrastructure investments, and the need for affordable housing. The remaining four sustainable communities pilots are located in Boston; Indianapolis; Denver; and National City, Calif.

Iowa City was chosen for the flood-impacted Riverfront Crossings District and the redevelopment potential of the brownfields, petroleum brownfields, underground storage tank sites, vacant properties, and other underused sites. The goal of this project is to create strategies to identify, clean up, and redevelop these properties into a revitalized Riverfront Crossings District. Iowa City has already completed the groundwork necessary to redevelop the Riverfront Crossings District successfully. The city is working with EPA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and state partners to develop a vision for the district’s redevelopment.

Presently, the district contains a mix of student housing, auto businesses, and industrial use sites. Iowa City plans to revitalize the district by developing pedestrian-friendly urban neighborhoods that will provide a mix of affordable housing, ground floor retail and office space, entertainment and recreation facilities, public open space, trails, and other open-space amenities along the Iowa River.

According to Karl Brooks, EPA’s region 7 administrator, the “sustainable communities pilot will help [EPA] learn how to bring new life to communities while preserving the environment.”