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.