Establish a "smart sites" program
States should establish an Internet-based "smart sites" program to market land they have an interest in developing. Economic development agencies often offer online databases of sites available for commercial development. Making sure that such databases include sites that the State would like to see developed can ensure that they won't be overlooked by site selectors.
A "smart sites" database should include meaningful information on site characteristics, as well as federal, state and local incentives available for redevelopment. Providing such information raises awareness about incentives that can support cleanup and redevelopment.
In addition, state incentives should be targeted or redirected to smart sites. This could be done by revising the criteria of state incentive programs, such as infrastructure loans, to make sure the programs reward projects on designated "smart sites."
The first step in developing a "smart sites" program is to establish criteria that define what a smart site is. The criteria should capture locations where the State would like to see development activity occur and where the State would be willing to provide financial support. If the smart sites qualify for state funds or receive priority in the distribution of state funds, they'll be marketable.
Smart sites should include brownfields, greyfields (such as declining shopping malls and strip centers), vacant lands, underutilized historic properties, parking lots, and sites that already are served by transit and other infrastructure.
The State should develop an inventory of potential smart sites. This can be done by using the GIS resources and will likely require coordination among state agencies that have property information. Regional, county and city governments, as well as colleges and universities, could help as well.
Additionally, the economic development agency can solicit landowners to provide information about their properties. Linking state incentives to smart sites would likely increase the willingness of property owners to submit their property for inclusion.
- New Jersey's Site Mart
New Jersey's Site Mart is an online database that provides information on brownfield properties to developers. Property owners who list their sites are eligible for financial and technical assistance from the State to redevelop their properties. The site also contains a message to property owners inviting them to list their sites even if they are not planning to sell in the near future.
— New Jersey's Site Mart