Brownfields, Redevelopment, and Urban Infill

Redevelopment is the process of taking land that was previously improved, and that has become vacant or underutilized, and developing it again for a single use or a mix of uses. It is often more complicated than the development of “greenfield” sites and calls for experienced counsel. Robinson+Cole land use lawyers literally wrote the book on how to successfully manage redevelopment. Land Use Group partners Brian Blaesser and Thomas Cody co-edited Redevelopment: Planning, Law, and Project Implementation, a leading resource on redevelopment strategy. 

Our Services

Robinson+Cole lawyers provide an array of services that include the following:

  • advising on real estate conveyancing for land assembly
  • managing environmental risk associated with brownfield sites, including covenants not to sue, hold harmless and indemnification agreements, and prospective purchaser protection
  • integrating critical infrastructure improvements, including utilities, access, public transit, and roadway upgrades
  • addressing historic preservation issues, including building renovations and remodeling, and incorporating historically sensitive design into new construction
  • assisting clients in managing building deconstruction and demolition

Our Team

Many redevelopment sites are also considered “brownfield” sites because they contain contamination from the historic use of property. Careful attention to liability exposure, risk management, and site remedial strategies is essential.

Robinson+Cole’s land use lawyers work closely with members of the firm’s Environmental + Utilities Group to manage liability risk and to help our clients successfully implement remedial strategies. Our environmental lawyers are well versed in various state brownfield incentive programs, in addition to the underlying state remedial programs, and work with private developers and municipalities to see brownfield properties put back into productive reuse. We also work closely with Robinson+Cole’s Construction Group to bring clients sophisticated advice in managing construction, including the use of special construction techniques and access agreements in urban settings.

    • Experience
      • Robinson+Cole represented the developer of Bedford Square, an attractive mixed-use project of commercial and residential spaces in Westport, Connecticut. The project involved a complicated repurposing of the interior of the existing Bedford Building and Firehouse, together with the redevelopment of an adjacent nonhistoric building into a historically sensitive addition.  

      • Robinson+Cole served as special counsel to the City of Stamford, Connecticut, in connection with the Harbor Point development project in the City’s South End. The $198 million project sought to develop over 80 acres of blighted and brownfields property into six million square feet of mixed-use development, including 4,000 units of housing, a full-service marina, ten acres of open space, and two acres for a school site. 

      • Counseled client on all aspects of due diligence, risk management, development permitting, site acquisition and remediation, and construction of a $250 million global development facility on a coastal peninsula for one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies. Provided legal project management and legal services, including Connecticut Environmental Policy Act (CEPA) evaluations, a master agreement with the state and municipality, a strategic zoning revision, site remediation, and the negotiation of "clean standard" and Environmental Land Use Restrictions, wetland and water resource permitting, and local permits and approvals.

      • Represented the City of Norwalk, Connecticut, in conjunction with a mixed-use redevelopment project involving a public-private partnership among the City, the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency, and Seligson Properties. The project focus was on providing a major economic and social link in the city's plan to connect and unify Central and South Norwalk along the West Avenue Corridor, containing approximately 535,750 square feet of retail space, 350 residential units (approximately 15 percent affordable), and 75,000 square feet of office space. Our services included all real estate, land use, environmental, and public finance aspects of the project, including drafting and negotiating the developer agreement between the master developer, the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency, and the city. We also drafted the documentation to create a special services district that would contract for the operation and maintenance of public improvements within the boundaries and administration of the special services district.

      • Represented the prospective owner/developer (a publicly traded company) relative to its development, purchase, and occupancy of a corporate and operational headquarters facility with roughly 10 acres under roof. Services included securing state incentives and permits, drafting and negotiating construction contracts and service agreements, and serving as legal project manager throughout the project.

      • Represented a city in developing a regional sports and entertainment complex that involved the construction of a minor league baseball stadium, a 10,000-seat arena, and a 1,000-space parking facility. Delivering the project required a significant brownfield redevelopment effort involving razing decades-old industrial and commercial factories, residential apartments, and commercial condominiums and drafting agreements to fund the project’s demolition, environmental remediation, and ultimate construction.

Our Team