Ribbon cut for EcoVillage Town Homes
by Chuck Hoven

(Plain Press, July 2004) At a June 9 th ribbon cutting ceremony on W. 58 th just north of Lorain Avenue , the EcoVillage project celebrated the completion of all 20 units of the EcoVillage Town Homes. All of the town homes have already been purchased, according to Michael Bier, manager of the EcoVillage Town Homes. Prices for the two and three story units started at $172,900.

The EcoVillage Town Homes are part of the EcoVillage project, a partnership between Detroit Shoreway Community Development Corporation and EcoCity Cleveland. The project brochure describes EcoVillage as “a national demonstration project with the goal of developing a model urban village that will realize the potential of urban life in the most ecological way possible.” The architect is Betsy Pettit of Building Science Corporation (BSC), which specializes in high-performance buildings. The new town homes feature green building techniques, which include energy efficiency, passive solar design and non-toxic building materials. The EcoVillage is the area within a five minute walk of the W. 65 th rapid transit station.

EcoCity Cleveland Executive Director David Beach said the EcoVillage is part of an effort to make cities better places to live. He said the EcoVillage is a unique urban neighborhood that will serve as an example to “teach the world how it can be transformed.” Beach said in the mid 90’s Cleveland ’s comeback was not very environmental friendly. EcoCity Cleveland began to look for a place to demonstrate that energy conservation, access to public transit, and restoring habitats could be part of efforts to revitalize the city. In 1996, in cooperation with the Cleveland State University ’s Center for Neighborhood Development, a number of neighborhoods were asked to compete to be the site of a new demonstration project. Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO) and the area around the W. 65 th rapid won the competition and EcoVillage was born. Beach says since that time the project has gained both local and national recognition. It has been the subject of national conferences and national magazine articles

DSCDO Board of Trustees Chairman Joe Tegreene recalled the groundbreaking for the townhouses on May 2, 2002 , and thanked organizations that contributed financially to the project. Those included Village Capital, which provided $190,000 to help acquire the site; National City Bank, which financed the first model unit; and, Bank One, which provided $2.9 million in construction financing. Tegreene also noted other contributors including the city of Cleveland , which contributed seven land bank parcels, $400,000 from the housing trust fund, neighborhood development funds and fifteen-year tax abatements for each home. (The tax abatement for each of the twenty units amounts to roughly $3,500 per year at current rates).

City of Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell noted that when Chicago Mayor Richard Daley visited Cleveland , he was very interested in Cleveland ’s EcoVillage. Mayor Campbell also noted that, after being introduced to green building techniques, she asked her staff to audit city owned buildings to find ways to increase energy efficiency.

Ward 17 Councilman Matt Zone noted that the $3.5 million renovation of the W. 65 th Street Regional Transit Authority rapid station should be completed in a couple of months. He also noted that the new town homes are strategically located near major bus lines on Lorain and Bridge avenues. He said that nearby Zone Recreation Center provides 25 acres of green space, one of the largest green spaces in the area. Zone praised David Rowe, the first project director of EcoVillage, and former DSCDO executive director Bill Whitney for their efforts in making the EcoVillage a possible.

Councilman Zone says the next phase the community partnership with the EcoVillage will be led the EcoVillage Advisory Team and Mandy Metcalf, EcoVillage’s new project director. Metcalf urged neighborhood residents to share their ideas for the future of the EcoVillage. Metcalf can be reached by email at mmetcalf@dscdo.org.

Detroit Shoreway project manager Michael Bier noted that ‘the EcoVillage townhomes are proving to be a huge success. BSC has designed and DAS Construction has built a housing development like no other in Cleveland . BSC's energy-efficient, durable and attractive design has created a strong demand for the townhomes, which were 80% sold before completion of construction. The Building America team of DSCDO, EcoCity Cleveland, DAS Construction, and BSC has demonstrated the value of green building while simultaneously invigorating one of Cleveland 's aging inner-city neighborhoods.”

More information on the EcoVillage and the EcoVillage Town Homes can be found at the EcoVillage website at www.ecocitycleveland.org.


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