Gary, IN
Vacant To Vibrant
Signage that announces the three park development efforts to be installed in the neighborhood of Aetna at 1035 Oklahoma, 1200 Oklahoma and 1252 Dakota
Green Infrastructure Project Site: 1035 Oklahoma -- This site will be designed into a public gathering and picnicking site. The front half will function as a rain garden. This specific site utilizes a patio and reuses a decorative cinderblock fence that were features of the prior house
Green Infrastructure Project Site: 1200 Oklahoma -- This site is located at a prominent corner in the neighborhood and designed signage will introduce the neighborhood of Aetna to incoming visitors. This site incorporates a series of rain gardens that will mitigate stormwater from the street and nearby parcels
Green Infrastructure Project Site: 1252 Dakota -- The front half of the site will provide a play field for children and in the rear the site will contain a small meadow with a bat house and will connect the parcel to a naturalized area beyond
Landscape Site Plan: 1200 Oklahoma St; Includes Rain Gardens, a Lawn, Gravel Paving, and Recycled Concrete Paving
Stormwater Plan: 1200 Oklahoma -- This site is designed to absorb up to 660 cubic feet of storm water; an increase of almost 3x its previous retention capacity
Planting Plan: 1200 Oklahoma; Pawpaws, Virginia Sweetspires, Inkberry Holly, Switch Grass, Dwarf Fountain Grass, Black-Eyed Susan, Daylilies, Yarrow, and a Rain Garden plant mixture
1200 Oklahoma
Vacant To Vibrant

Vacant to Vibrant (V2V) is a Great Lakes Protection Fund–supported initiative led by Cleveland Botanical Garden in collaboration with project partners in Gary, IN, Cleveland, OH, and Buffalo, NY. The goal of the project is to create joint stormwater management / neighborhood recreational assets on small, distributed vacant residential parcels in urban neighborhoods and to measure the effectiveness of these installations as green stormwater infrastructure and as tools for neighborhood stabilization. Vacant to Vibrant seeks to advance knowledge on sustainable development practices leading to efficient urban revival strategies that can be replicated in urban areas across the Great Lakes region.

Gary's project sites are situated within the Aetna neighborhood; founded in 1881 and annexed by the City of Gary in 1928. Aetna was established as a residential community primarily for industrial workers, and its growth and subsequent struggles traced the arc of US Steel, Gary's largest employer. The proportion of abandoned buildings and vacant parcels is highly variable throughout the neighborhood. In Gary, V2V is one part of a comprehensive stormwater management and urban revitalization plan that is being undertaken by city government in collaboration with federal agencies.

Project Details
  • Region
    • Midwest
  • City
    • Gary, IN
  • Neighborhood
    • Aetna
  • Project Size
    • 0.37 acres spread over 3 vacant residential parcels within 0.06 sq. mi.
  • Project Cost
    • $18,000 per installation for materials and labor plus programmatic support from grant that includes scientific monitoring, community engagement, overhead costs
  • Project Status
    • Under construction, to be completed Spring 2015
Strategies Implemented
  • Designs act to provide community with image/identity and usable space for activities and gatherings
  • Use of common materials reduce initial project costs and allow for easy maintenance and repair
  • Various types of lighting and fencing provide clear demarcations and limits of public space
  • Designed spaces are intended to be flexible in an anticipation of varied/future uses
  • Landscaping provides visual and seasonal interest while focusing on native wildlife habitat including bird and bat species
  • Engaged a diverse group of leaders from across the Great Lakes region over 12-month planning and convening period to explore ways with which urban areas could simultaneously address problems with vacant urban land and environmental issues
  • Gathered and incorporated residents’ input about site design via a series of community meetings (2–5 per neighborhood), stoop surveys (solicited from residents within 100 ft of installations), and targeted mailings describing the project and giving community feedback (entire street for each installation)
  • Used temporary signage prior to construction to introduce project and give contact information
  • Used online resource MindMixer as an electronic outlet to collect community feedback
  • TOTAL PROJECT COST -- $18,000 per installation for materials and labor plus programmatic support from grant that includes scientific monitoring, community engagement, overhead costs
  • Great Lakes Protection Fund: $862,000
  • Project did not require policy or regulatory changes to implement
  • Project itself was not a new policy or regulation

Gary, 2010

Pop. Loss Since Peak
Peak year: 1960
0 75
2010 Unemployment
0 75
2010 Poverty
0 75
2010 Res. Vacancy
0 75
Population Change
-30 0 15
Unemployment Change
-30 0 15
Poverty Change
-30 0 15
Res. Vacancy Change
-30 0 15