Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Geography

Committee Chair

David D. Shively

Commitee Members

Christiane von Reichert, Robin Saha


Baltimore, brownfield policy, Brownfields, location quotients, Maryland, older industrial cities, property values, real property sales data, requests for building permit data, tax assessed value, urban redevelopment, Voluntary Cleanup Programs


University of Montana


The industrialized world is littered with tens of thousands of acres of vacant, decaying, and often contaminated industrial and commercial sites. These sites, commonly referred to as “brownfields,” scar the landscape of communities, expose citizens to possible health risks, deteriorate surrounding land values, and erode the tax base of municipalities. Vacant and abandoned industrial sites are present in every state, but the blight associated with brownfields is worst in America’s “rustbelt,” the chain of once great industrial cites and towns stretching along historic canals and rail lines from Baltimore to Boston, and west to Milwaukee. This thesis investigates federal and state brownfields policies and reviews contemporary brownfields literature and through a case study approach, it explains how state and federal policies created a climate conducive to brownfields redevelopment in Baltimore, Maryland. By analyzing two successful Baltimore projects, the research shows how the reuse of brownfields had a positive “ripple-effect” that helped precipitate neighborhood-level investment and revitalization. To help clarify the intricacies often associated with the reuse of brownfields, documentation on financing mechanisms, tax incentives, and state-level Voluntary Cleanup Program application materials are analyzed and described. The impact of the two case study sites on surrounding neighborhoods is researched quantitatively by comparing citywide tax assessed values, real property sales records, and building permit data. The datasets were collected for three years (1995, 2001, and 2007) each representing a distinct time period in Baltimore’s recent history of brownfield redevelopment. Lastly, to help establish comparable rates of neighborhood investment, this thesis uses location quotients based on building permit applications. The quotients compare Baltimore’s citywide building activity to building activity in neighborhoods with reclaimed brownfield sites.



© Copyright 2008 Gregory William Lewis