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Rebuilding in Cleveland trended up

Marc Lefkowitz  |  02/25/13 @ 11:00am  |  Posted in Vibrant cities

Building houses on previously developed land showed signs of growth in Northeast Ohio during the five year period of 2005-2009.

Moving in<br />Residential infill development on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland. Image: GCBL

Nearly one in three developments in the Cleveland region was built on a ‘greyfield’—such as parking lots and abandoned properties—during the housing slowdown.

In city and suburb alike in the Cleveland-Eyria-Mentor region, a total of 29% of development was infill, according to an EPA study, “Residential Construction Trends in America’s Metropolitan Region.”

That outpaced the national average of 24% infill for the 208 metro regions in the study. Cleveland notched a 2% increase in infill development, double the national average, from 2000-2004.

The data represents an interesting counter weight to the devastation of the foreclosure crisis. In the midst of this infill renaissance, Cleveland led the nation in foreclosed properties with more than 10,000 in 2007 (followed by 3 years north of 5,000). The city’s housing vacancy rate is high at 10% with the national average at 11%.

Still, the trending up for Cleveland infill bucks the pattern that higher rates of infill usually occur in areas with higher home prices. One possible theory may be that when the bottom fell out of the real estate market here, developers responded more nimbly to rising demand for urban living (downtown Cleveland has a 99% occupancy rate on residential).

The report notes that sprawl development continues to be the dominant paradigm in America. Only five metro areas exceeded 50% of infill from 2000 to 2009. And it plays against the backdrop of a 40-year pattern of sprawl when 5% more land in Northeast Ohio was turned from green to grey.

EPA concludes that further study is needed to determine what policies may leverage more land recycling efforts.

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