cleveland ecovillage

Conceived in 1998, the EcoVillage is a nationally recognized project that promotes an environmentally responsive neighborhood focusing on transit oriented development and sustainable construction.

Founded through an innovative partnership involving nonprofit organizations, the city, the regional transit authority, private developers, and neighborhood residents it is a celebrated demonstration project that showcases best practices in green building, transit-oriented design, urban agriculture and societal inter-dependence. Over the last ten years the Cleveland EcoVillage has proven that sustainability can be used as an organizing principle for urban redevelopment and community organizing.

It was created in response to continued urban sprawl, disinvestment in the urban core and resulting environmental degradation within and outside the City of Cleveland. Using sustainability as an organizing principle, and transit-oriented development as a planning strategy, the EcoVillage seeks to retain urban dwellers while attracting people back into the urban core.

The Cleveland EcoVillage centers around the W.65th/Lorain Avenue RTA Rapid Station in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood, two miles west of Downtown Cleveland. The EcoVillage neighborhood area is defined as within a quarter mile walk of the rapid station, just minutes away from the shores of Lake Erie, the banks of the Cuyahoga River, the Ohio & Lake Erie Towpath Trail and the nationally celebrated Gordon Square Arts District. Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO) and its partners implement projects in four core initiative areas to promote the continued development of the Cleveland EcoVillage. These initiatives are:

  • Green building and housing
  • Transportation infrastructure
  • Greenspace and local food
  • Community involvement
Projects are designed to have a beneficial long term effect on the community, economy and environment.
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The Neighborhood

The EcoVillage area is a diverse neighborhood that is pedestrian-friendly and community-oriented. Residents are within walking distance of the Rapid Transit Station and the Zone Recreation Center. The area has older and newer homes, including some of the city’s finest examples of green building. The area also includes numerous schools, historic churches, parks and community gardens. Residents can participate in block clubs, recreation groups, annual workshops, and celebrations.

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Community

The Cleveland EcoVillage is founded on community inter-dependence. DSCDO and its partners offer a variety of workshops and programs to promote connectivity, drive personal development, and educate residents on the benefits of environmental stewardship. Activities range from native plant workshops, storm drain stenciling, neighborhood clean-ups, rain barrel workshops and gardening seminars to community planting days, local food cook-outs.

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Greenspaces

Greenspaces provide places to play, grow food and enjoy nature. They capture storm water while providing habitat for native plants and animals. In 2012 the $3.5 million Michael Zone Recreation Center greenspace redevelopment joined other EcoVillage greenspaces such as the Ithaca Court EcoVillage Community Garden, EcoVillage Produce LLC Market Garden, and Simmons Park (a native plant park built on a former brownfield).

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Housing

The EcoVillage project strives to create healthy, environmentally friendly, beautiful new and renovated homes for people of all incomes. To date, 24 energy efficient market-rate and affordable homes have been built or renovated by DSCDO and its partners. First to start this trend were the EcoVillage Townhomes, completed in 2004 and setting precedent for green building on vacant land. Following that in 2008 was the first LEED Platinum house in Cleveland, built through a partnerships DSCDO and multiple parties. Since then DSCDO has sought to bring private housing investment to rehabilitate dilapidated homes as well as build on vacant land. Projects such as Waverly Station condominiums and Bridge Square apartments have both brought density and activity to the area. In the future, DSCDO is looking to bolster and improve the housing stock through innovative projects aimed at reusing many of the typically ‘non-buildable’ lots in the area.

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Transportation

The Cleveland EcoVillage is a prime example of transit-oriented development (TOD). TOD seeks to locate housing, amenities, and greenspaces within walking distance to new or existing public transit stations and routes. Successful projects include the 3.4 million dollar green rapid transit station (first in the GCRTA system and completed in 2004, the redeveloped pedestrian-friendly bridges around the station, and a neighborhood walking path. By offering multiple modes of transportation, reliance on automobiles can be decreased leading to cleaner air, stronger ecosystems and healthier people.

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