“To be honest with you, I took a risk and bought the site without a Phase I ESA,” an inquirer said of an iconic corner site in Tampa he plans to redevelop. Here’s what we found out, that could make hair stand up on the back of your neck:

  • two underground storage tank locations with tanks closed-in-place in the early 1990s (still there), and piping and vents apparently still in place. We think the facility was cleared by the regulators after much time passed and an enforcement action was taken. We think.
  • eight hydraulic lifts in place, with at least five underground hydraulic fluid reservoirs to excavate
  • perchloroethylene groundwater contamination, either from the site or the up-gradient historic dry cleaners, both of which are in the state’s dry cleaning solvent cleanup program
  • previous use of the site as a gasoline station and then for auto and brake repair
  • likely asbestos in the building, with demolition planned for redevelopment

These are the kinds of things you need to know before you buy. Obviously, the risk he took was far greater than what was expected. Moreover, redevelopment will now be contingent perhaps on an asbestos abatement action prior to demolition and significant ground alteration and possible remediation, i.e. excavation, before footers can be laid.

The irony of all this is that the risk was taken to save money, a relatively small fee for the Phase I ESA. I think there was a commercial made about “paying me now or paying me later?”