Justin Hollander at Tufts is a rising star in planning research. He’s got a new book out on Shrinking Cities, but I haven’t seen that one yet. The one I have seen is a volume called Polluted and Dangerous: America’s Worst Abandoned Properties and What Can Be Done About Them from last year. At a book a year, he should do pretty well in this business.
From the blurb:
Blighted, contaminated, and abandoned property mars nearly every major American city. Justin Hollander conducted primary research in twenty urban centers containing such “brownfields” or, in the most serious cases, “HI-TOADS” (High-Impact Temporarily Obsolete Abandoned Derelict Sites). His goal was to study the sites and the official handling of them through the lenses of sustainability, urban planning, redevelopment, and environmental justice. In Polluted and Dangerous, he scrutinizes specific sites in five of the affected cities: New Bedford, Massachusetts; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Richmond, Virginia; Trenton, New Jersey; and Youngstown, Ohio
In this month’s volume of the Journal of Law and Economics, Hilary Sigman has a manuscript that tests the level of capitalization that occurs surrounding these sorts of properties based on different liability regimes:
Sigman, Hilary. “Environmental Liability and Redevelopment of Old Industrial Land .” Journal of Law and Economics 53, no. May (2010): 289-206.
The manuscript contains a convincing analysis that liability rules are incompletely capitalized in land prices; so while potentially contaminated land is lower in price, it is not sufficiently lower in price to equalize vacancy rates or hit a point where there is parity between brownfields and greenfields in prices. This, I suspect, has to do with information problems: with a brownfield site, there is the possibility that the contamination will turn out much worse than originally believed.
Sigman is at the Bloustein school, where Hollander got his PhD. So there’s some good work coming out of there on brownfields.