City of Cortez Revitalization Initiatives

The City of Cortez is committed to empowering property owners to revitalize underused and vacant areas of the City. As the City develops incentives & programs for this purpose, residents & property owners are encouraged to check this page for updates.

Statewide Brownfields Assessment Grant (SWAG): Program Overview

In 2022, the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) awarded the cities of Cortez, Firestone, Longmont, and Lyons a collective $2,000,000 brownfields grant to support the assessment, cleanup planning, and revitalization of publicly and privately-owned underutilized properties (“brownfield” sites). Grant funds can be used to complete Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs), cleanup planning, and a variety of property reuse planning activities. The goal is to transform properties from liabilities into assets that revitalize our communities and bring our neighborhoods back to life. Funding will be available for use on a first come, first served basis likely through summer 2027, for approximately 30 high priority Phase I ESA sites and 18 high priority Phase II ESA sites.

The grant is issued by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and managed by CDPHE with assistance from an environmental consulting team led by Stantec Consulting Services Inc. (Stantec).

Please send all completed site nomination forms to

Guiding Principles

  • Prioritize use of grant funds on property that will attract investors and become a catalyst for new employment opportunities and a sustainable job base.
  • Promote infill development that maximizes use of existing space, infrastructure and utilities.
  • Remove redevelopment barriers by addressing unknown site conditions and creating shovel ready sites.
  • Invest in sites that will generate public and private revenue. 
  • Transform blighted areas into thriving neighborhoods.
  • Protect public health and the environment. 
  • Promote public participation and input on priority redevelopment areas and sites.

What is a "brownfield?"

The EPA classifies a brownfield as "a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant." 

The City of Cortez sees brownfield clean-up and redevelopment as an economic benefit for the community and is investing staff resources and time to help property owners gain access to these initiatives.

Sunflower Theater was surveyed by CDPHE in 2012. Photo taken by Lydia Regalado.

A sandstone building with a sign reading "Sunflower Theater".

Examples of brownfield sites

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Are there brownfield sites in your neighborhood?

Do you pass by vacant lots, dilapidated buildings, or closed businesses, such as gas stations, old manufacturing plants, or boarded up storefronts? Are there underutilized properties or “eyesores” in your community that you’d like to see cleaned up and returned to productive use?

If you answered is yes to any of these questions, chances are these properties are “brownfield” sites. Brownfield sites come in all shapes and sizes and may include:

  • Former manufacturing & industrial sites
  • Vacant or underutilized warehouses & commercial facilities (such as aging strip malls)
  • Former gas stations, auto repair shops & car washes
  • Old railyards & truck depots
  • Former dry cleaners
  • Old buildings with asbestos, lead paint or other regulated materials
  • Salvage yards, landfills & illegal dump sites
  • Mine-scarred lands
  • Boarded up & abandoned buildings

How can YOU use grant funding on your property?

Funding is available to parties interested in completing Environmental Sites Assessments (ESAs) and regulated building material (RBM) surveys, developing site cleanup/reuse plans in support of property sale or redevelopment. Property owners, business owners, and developers are encouraged to take advantage of this funding opportunity that will further economic development initiatives, protect public health, and restore the environment!

Brownfield surveys can be quite expensive - this grant is a rare opportunity to cover those costs.

*This program will not pay for the clean-up of private properties deemed as brownfields, but will cover the cost of surveying, assessing, and creating a clean-up plan.

What are the benefits of brownfield development?

Property owners, business owners, and developers who cleanup and reuse brownfields provide benefits to themselves and their community, including:

  • Removing unknowns regarding site conditions that might hold up a future sale, financing agreement and/or redevelopment project.
  • Increasing return from the property by making it more valuable and marketable.
  • Contributing to economic prosperity and environmental restoration in the community.
  • Making neighborhoods safer and healthier.
  • Avoiding actions by regulatory agencies that may impose penalties and costly cleanups.
  • Reducing potential impacts from and to adjacent properties.

Disclaimer: Although this project has been funded wholly or in part by the EPA, the contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the EPA.

How Do I...

Grant Partners

The Logos for the City of Cortez, EPA & Stantec


For more information on brownfields and the Cortez Property Revitalization Program contact:

Helen West

Community and Economic Development Specialist
Phone: 970-331-0213