2012 National Planning Excellence Awards: Innovation in Sustaining Places

Re-imagining a More Sustainable Cleveland

Cleveland, Ohio

Re-Imagining a More Sustainable Cleveland is a collaborative effort to address the issues of persistent population decline and large-scale urban vacancy while positioning the city for sustainable future development. Cleveland has approximately 20,000 vacant lots that negatively impact property values and quality of life for residents. The initiative is led by the City of Cleveland, Neighborhood Progress Inc., ParkWorks, and support of Kent State University's Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative along with 30 other community-based groups.

The initiative addresses vacancy issues by introducing non-traditional urban land uses to city neighborhoods. There are three broad categories for the land uses: seeing vacant lots as opportunities for future development; restoring green infrastructure and reclaiming badly damaged ecosystems; and employing productive landscapes using vacant land for agriculture and alternative energy generation. Community engagement was achieved through workshops held throughout the city, a vacant land ideas-to-action booklet, and a grant program that distributed nearly $600,000 in funding for 56 vacant land pilot projects conducted by local residents and community organizations.

A grant program distributed nearly $600,000 in funding for 56 vacant land pilot projects. The projects were conducted by local residents and community organizations, and included yard expansions, parks, community gardens, and farms.