Reimagining Cleveland: PhD Student and Colleagues Commended by American Planning Association

Jan 12, 2012 | Atlanta, GA

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City and Regional Planning PhD student Nathanael Z. Hoelzel served on a steering committee that prepared “Re-imagining a More Sustainable Cleveland,” a plan that was awarded the 2012 National Planning Excellence Award for Innovation in Sustaining Places by the American Planning Association (APA). The award will be presented at APA’s National Conference in Los Angeles this April.

The plan puts forth strategies to manage and revitalize vacant land for sustainable productive uses in the context of Cleveland’s population decline, dispersed pattern of vacancy and changing economy. Hoelzel served on the 30-member committee as the City’s Brownfield Programs and Industrial-Commercial Landbank Manager. Within the plan, the committee recommended innovative ideas, including leveraging local landbanks to create a city-wide greenspace network of parks, urban farms and storm water management; area-wide brownfield remediation; and preparing vacant properties to generate clean energy. APA’s award also recognizes certain components of the project that have been implemented, including public workshops, a vacant land ideas-to-action booklet and granting $600,000 for 56 vacant land pilot projects led by residents and community organizations.

Hoelzel reflects on his experience: “The re-imagining process in Cleveland is truly innovative and inspiring. We created brilliant, and practical, ideas to address some of Cleveland’s biggest planning challenges. The work done by those involved impacts all Clevelanders. As such, it is exciting to see the planning profession’s leadership recognize our work.” 

The planning process was guided by Terry Schwarz, Director of Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, and she notes Hoelzel’s contribution: “Nate’s expertise of brownfields and ability to make connections between the City’s landbanks and the overall goals of the plan were invaluable. His approach offered real solutions and resources, which have since been adopted and used in various projects.”

Hoelzel started at Georgia Tech’s School of City and Regional Plan in the fall of 2009. He is currently preparing a dissertation proposal focused on sustainable industrial development in brownfield-impacted urban neighborhoods. He can be reached at nateholelzel@gatech.edu.

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