cleveland hosts national conference on vacant properties


Someday the Medical Mart may make Cleveland an essential destination for healthcare professions. But the city has already achieved such status among those who study blight, which is why Cleveland is hosting the third national Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference, which continues through Friday at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel on Public Square.

"This is by far the biggest," says Jennifer Leonard of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Community Progress, which organized the conference with Cleveland's own Neighborhood Progress, Inc. "Today, there are more places that are being challenged by vacant properties."

Cleveland, of course, would be at or near the top of any such list. But that's not the only reason CCP selected the city for this gathering, which occurs every 18 months. Cleveland also boasts an impressive array of dedicated advocates and innovative approaches to the problem, such as the Cuyahoga Land Bank and Judge Raymond Pianka's Housing Court.

Various parts of the city will serve as backdrops for discussions. "Mobile Workshops" will take participants to Euclid Avenue, as an example of using transit to spur development; a vineyard in Hough and other sites that have been reclaimed for farming or greenspace; Slavic Village, where the foreclosure crisis is combated with a "resident-driven approach to finding a new identity," and the hip and booming Detroit Shoreway community.

"It's actually kind of hard," notes Leonard, "to make sure the conference isn't too focused on Cleveland."

The conference is sold out, but more information is available at the web site.

Source: Center for Community Progress
Writer: Frank W. Lewis