Can the Ultra-Ex Project Save Cleveland?

"Vacancy begets vacancy." With more than 1,000 vacant lots adding to the city's running total of 20,000 each year, Cleveland is on an Ultra-Ex mission to prepare these sites for tomorrow's housing renaissance.
August 5, 2011, 11am PDT | Jeff Jamawat
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The "ultra" in Ultra-Ex, a team of Cleveland-area scientists, stands for Urban Long-Term Research Area.

Michael Tortorello reports, "Along with its sci-fi name, Ultra-Ex advances a forward-looking mission: to document the ecological benefits that vacant lots might provide and to redefine the land, from neighborhood blight to community asset."

But the scope of the problem represents an enormous undertaking. After all, "[o]ne abandoned yard is a mess; 20,000 abandoned yards is an ecosystem. At this scale, Cleveland's vacant land begins to look less like a sign of neglect and more like an ecological experiment spread over some 3,600 acres," notes Tortorello.

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Published on Wednesday, August 3, 2011 in The New York Times
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