Gettin' easier bein' green
Eco-city thrives in Cleveland
The following article appeared on the Web site of the Ohio Association of Realtors in September, 2002. The OAR has more than 32,000 members and is the state's largest professional trade association, composed of real estate professionals, who form the basis of a huge private property rights lobby.
By M. Robert Scott
There's a new village springing up on Cleveland's West Side.
It's size might not grab anyone's attention just yet: construction began last month on just one four-unit condominium and in its first phase, development is likely to only amount to about 20 units.
Pricing won't necessarily stand out either: the condos on West 58th Street are in a mid-range, with units ranging from $172,900 to $189,900.
But there are other ways that this development is far from ordinary: it is Cleveland's first EcoVillagea partnership between the West Side community development group and EcoCity Cleveland, an environmental planning organization.
"EcoVillage is an attempt to find a place to put all cutting edge ideas as a demonstration project," said David Beach, director of EcoCity Cleveland.
The project is sponsored by EcoCity Cleveland and supported in part by the Sustainable Development Challenge Grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Beach said the goal of the group is to develop a model urban village that will realize the potential of urban life in the most ecological way possible.
Specifically, that means bringing together "Green Building" ideas like energy efficiency, passive solar design and non-toxic building materials with the best thinking of the "New Urbanism" movement - pedestrian-friendly streets, mixed-uses, proximity to transit and green space.
The Detroit-Shoreway Community Development Organization is the developer of the project and marketing is being handled by Progressive Urban Real Estate Inc., located on Detroit Avenue.
Beach said Progressive Urban was involved in the EcoVillage project from the early design stages. "We needed someone to help us find out what kind of product would actually sell in that area," he said.
The real estate company has information about the condos, including floor plans, at its Web site.
Progressive Urban Vice President David Sharkey said he expects a dual interest in EcoVillage.
"We see two sets of buyersone who wants to do something for the environment when they buy a new house and the other who wants a 1,600-square-foot townhouse in the city," he said. "And this is such a neat project: beyond the green ideas, it will be a gorgeous building."
Sharkey said Progressive has about 25 agents who are learning and getting excited about the project as well.
"Green building is not going to go away and our agents are taking this opportunity to learn as much as they can about it," he said. "People who knew a little about recycling their trash are learning now about buying wood from certified, well-managed forests."
The brick-stucco town homes will be solar equipped, have two or three bedrooms and two bathrooms, a one- or two-car garage, an office/computer area, walk-in closets, a rear courtyard and all within walking distance of the transit stop.
Sharkey said some of the townhouses would also offer "English basement apartments," which the condo owner may rent out for extra income.
The EcoVillage idea began more than five years ago, Beach said.
"Everyone was noticing the exciting re-development of Cleveland, but little of it took the environment into account in a meaningful way," Beach said. "We spent a couple of years rooting the idea in the neighborhood through meetings with churches and local block clubs. Now there's real ownership and interest in what's going on."
According to the EcoCity Web site, the project has started to show visible progress in the last two years, particularly with the groundbreaking for a $2 million redeveloped Rapid Transit station a block away.
Jeff Ramsey, assistant director at the Detroit-Shoreway group said the project is "teaching a new way of building - that we can build new houses and still respect the environment and people's health, too."
Ramsey said the units are designed to heat and cool for $300 a year or less and that the first 10 units will be built with solar energy packets.
"Even on the construction site, they recycle fly ash and concrete," he said. "From beginning to end this is a new kind of housing and a new kind of living."