Real estate transactions are often high-stakes undertakings. Buying a property without understanding the potential environmental risks and liabilities attributable to former site uses can be very costly, and discovering historic contamination on a property you have purchased can wreck the best of plans.
Woodard & Curran focuses our due diligence activities to collect the information our clients need to “close the deal” in a timely and efficient manner. Our team has completed hundreds of real estate due diligence and environmental business liability assessments for real estate, financial, legal, commercial, municipal and industrial clients. Our expertise ranges from straightforward ASTM and AAI Phase I ESAs to large-scale, multi-site, multi-state due diligence investigations associated with corporate acquisitions or divestiture.
We keep our clients' concerns and risk tolerances in mind in order to facilitate a rapid, comprehensive environmental site assessment that provides decision makers with the knowledge they need for a smooth property transfer. In addition to evaluating the pollution and hazardous waste potential on the property, we evaluate measures that influence property valuation resulting from potential liability and remediation costs.
Due diligence efforts often begin with ASTM and AAI assessments, but Woodard & Curran believes that a holistic approach drives the best results for our clients. We integrate site assessments with the broad suite of property development services to set our clients up for success, from property transfer, through any necessary remediation, to final site reuse.
Real Estate Investment Trust, New England
A national real estate investment trust (REIT) specializing in ownership, management, and development of high-quality retail properties sought Woodard & Curran’s assistance in evaluating environmental liabilities associated with a portfolio of six retail properties in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. The properties ranged from fully built shopping malls to commercial property undergoing significant redevelopment. At some of the properties, environmental response actions were under way to address petroleum and solvent releases and historic landfilling. In order to understand the risks and potential liabilities associated with the properties, the REIT retained Woodard & Curran to conduct Phase I ESAs at each property, provide expert opinion on the properties compliance with state regulations, and estimate future costs associated with property cleanup and/or redevelopment. All of the assessments were completed on a fast-track schedule to facilitate the ongoing transaction. With Woodard & Curran’s due diligence assistance, the REIT successfully acquired the portfolio.
Environmental Site Assessment
Boston Department of Neighborhood Development, Boston, MA
After obtaining a developed property through foreclosure, the City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development (DND) intended to market the property to developers. The DND hired Woodard & Curran to evaluate potential environmental liabilities associated with the property. To assess site risks, Woodard & Curran initiated an ASTM Phase I environmental site assessment, which identified historical underground fuel storage at the property. Because the location of a potential underground storage tank (UST) was unclear, Woodard & Curran recommended implementing a Phase II ESA consisting of a geophysical assessment and subsurface soil and groundwater investigation. Using ground-penetrating radar, one likely UST was located on the property beneath the building’s concrete slab floor. Woodard & Curran completed soil and groundwater sampling near the UST location and detected no petroleum-impacted soil or groundwater. The information and analysis completed by Woodard & Curran allowed DND to develop an approach to market the property with full knowledge of the environmental conditions.
Environmental Liability Review
Real Estate Investment Trust, Nationwide
For a confidential nationwide real estate investment trust (REIT), Woodard & Curran provides third-party review services evaluating all aspects of potential environmental liabilities associated with the potential property acquisition. Within an aggressive timeframe to complete environmental due diligence, Woodard & Curran reviews environmental site assessments completed by others and evaluates a wide range of environmental information pertaining to the property for this REIT. Environmental reviews of manufacturing, residential, and commercial properties in Chicago, Atlanta, Kansas City, and Dallas have been completed and environmental issues including historic spill cleanup, oil storage, mold remediation, and compliance with state regulations have been assessed. Because of our independent analysis of site environmental conditions, the REIT has been able to manage potential environmental issues and successfully acquired numerous properties.
Confidential Real Estate Company, NY
When considering the purchase of an unoccupied former mill building on Buzzards Bay in New Bedford, MA, this confidential New York-based real estate company hired Woodard & Curran to conduct due diligence research. Woodard & Curran began with an ASTM Phase I ESA, which included a site visit, review of historical records, research at state and local government offices, and interviews with key individuals knowledgeable about site use and history. Research found the mill had been used for various textile manufacturing operations for more than 100 years. Woodard & Curran also reviewed previous environmental assessment activities conducted at the site, including the removal of two USTs. Our investigations concluded that there were no Recognized Environmental Conditions at the site, and the transaction could proceed unimpeded