Intensifying future urban development demands efficient land use transformation in the reuse of brownfields. Associated social cost is a key barrier. This study investigates several critical aspects of a very large-scale former heavy industrial site, operated by a major state-owned enterprise (SOE), in Beijing. Theoretical inquiry and case analysis show that, given recently emerging legal institutions to regulate the reuse of former heavy industry sites, it has presented ambiguous liability for brownfield redevelopment in Beijing’s urban core. This paper argues existence of potential gain for internalising social cost by assigning the land use and redevelopment rights to the polluter firm. There is asymmetric information between polluter landholder and government (or future users). The case study shows that one of the natural and essential consequences of the polluter landholder-led redevelopment is the creation/emergence of new organisation to match market demand for future land use patterns. This paper sheds light on large-scale brownfield redevelopment in major Chinese urban region. There are innovation potential and practical risks in institution, firm structure, and socio-politico cooperation.