As a result of the rapid rise of real estate values, there has been a push to provide new space for business by building condominiums.
In our communications with clients, we have noted a strong tendency to downplay the potential environmental liabilities associated with condominiums. This is likely a result of a number of factors including the generally smaller sizes and thus lesser costs of these commercial spaces but also because many of them tend to be newer developments.
Condominiums pose a special challenge, from an environmental assessment viewpoint. This is because while individual units are smaller, there is an ownership by each owner in the ENTIRE property. Therefore, the condominium association and by definition each owner shares in the environmental liabilities of the entire condominium development.
The condominium complex may constitute a LARGER area that is subject to impact from an off-site source. This means that there may actually be a larger area of land, compared to single smaller parcels that could be impacted by contamination from off-site sources.
Many condominium complexes are re-developments that have been built where former buildings once stood. It is important to evaluate historical information for the ENTIRE development for which the liability is shared.
In some cases, it may be prudent to perform a complete Phase I ESA, or at least additional research, even for the sale of condominium properties.