With many existing vacant lots so neglected and with a recent increase in the number of vacant lots throughout the city, not every lot can immediately become a community garden, playground, bike path, etc. Larger ideas like community gardens and pocket parks take a lot of money, time, and labor, and in the meantime the vacant lot will continue to be an eyesore to the neighborhood. Those vacant lots that a neighborhood envisions larger plans for should be addressed through phases to support a clean and beautiful neighborhood. This means seeking partnerships with community agencies and entities in order to rebuild these lots in the most beneficial manner to the residents. While the initial goal is to stabilize declining areas, by phasing over time with the help of additional resources from partners, each site has the potential to become something more for the community. Where feasible, key lots could be developed for greater social, economic, or environmental benefit by partners interested in exploring the possibilities. Sites from East Price Hill are used as examples for this section. The key phases to vacant lot revitalization are summarized below.
Phase 1: CLEAN & GREEN
In order to make the quickest transition from blighted property to a useful neighborhood asset, the first phase for properties seeking further enhancements should be a simple cleaning and greening of the site. This first step ensures stabilization of the site and surrounding area. Removing all existing structures and debris is first and foremost in order to prepare the site for a new use and future maintenance needs.
Grading the site may be necessary to create conducive conditions to diverting water from pooling on the site. Remove all excess plants and weeds to create a defined open area. Soil amendments, a replanting of grass over the entire site, and the installation of a tree and fence completes the initial clean and green phase of the project, creating a blank slate for future development.
Phase 2: PARTNERSHIPS
A lot of sites will be best suited for the first phase only. Some key sites, however, will be better suited for a more intensive revitalization plan. For these properties, the next phase is to identify partnership opportunities with local agencies or community organizations. Finding the most appropriate organization or agency to partner with is important to successfully turning these vacant lots into something more for the neighborhood. Partners agree to take on additional revitalization costs and future maintenance needs.
Phase 3: COLLABORATION
Identified partners collaborate to determine the best and highest use for site. Through analysis of the surrounding neighborhood and amenities currently lacking, select what would be most beneficial and most advantageous for these key sites and partners.
Phase 4: DEVELOP PLAN
Once a use is determined for the site, develop a feasible plan for the site that supports collective goals and aligns with the comprehensive city plan.
Phase 5: COMMUNITY ACTION
Once a site plan is complete, work alongside partners and community members to encourage other members of the community or organizations to implement the plan.