Welcoming Bobbi Reichtell

At first glance, it may not be obvious why Bobbi Reichtell, the new executive director of Campus District Inc., is the ideal choice as Cuyahoga Land Bank’s newest board member. After all, Campus District-anchored by Cleveland State University, Cuyahoga Community College, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, The Plain Dealer and the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA)-is a neighborhood of institutions, not residences.bobbi_profile
Reichtell agrees, laughing: “There’s not much Land Bank property in Campus District.” But one look at her resume is all it takes to see why she was tapped by the Land Bank. Before she joined Campus District in October, Reichtell was vice president of Programs at Neighborhood Progress Inc. (NPI), where she managed an annual $2-million community development grant-making program. She also led ReImagining Cleveland, a citywide initiative for innovative reuse of vacant land-also one of the Land Bank’s primary goals.
Her prior positions include 15 years as development officer for Slavic Village Development Corporation and similar positions at Broadway Area Housing Coalition and University Settlement. It’s as if she’s been grooming herself for her Land Bank post her entire career.
In fact, the Land Bank had their eye on Reichtell because, she says, “they wanted someone who’s non-political but experienced in vacant land issues and neighborhood development issues.” Greening and reuse of the land are two of Reichtell’s passions. One of her favorite projects at NPI was a plan for linking together vacant properties in ways that would be useful. “Perhaps it would be a neighborhood-controlled greenspace,” she says, “with linking paths-a mini-version of Cleveland’s Emerald Necklace.” Such projects call for long-term planning but, she adds, “I see huge opportunities.”
New greening opportunities await Reichtell at Campus District as well. The neighborhood, which stretches from the East Shoreway south to Orange Avenue, and from East 18th to East 30th Street, is bisected by East 22nd-which most people know as the route to the Main Post Office, or to a doctor’s visit at St. Vincent Charity Hospital. Now, Campus District plans a “greening” of that north-south corridor as the first phase of a Campus District Greenway.
What really excites Reichtell about working with community groups, she says, is the chance to “…see what’s really possible in neighborhoods that are organized. It has nothing to do with income; it’s about how active and engaged people are.”
“The work I did at NPI with ReImagining Cleveland was, for me, the best learning experience in seeing how creative residents can be in re-using land,” she says. “It was awe-inspiring. Even in neighborhoods where you’d think there’s so much decline, people wouldn’t be interested in doing anything new-that is so far from the truth.”
With the expertise and talents Reichtell brings to the table, she can’t help but succeed, both with Campus District and on the Land Bank’s Board of Trustees. We’re lucky to have her and wish her the best in both of her new positions.

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