ELKHART - Elkhart is one of six cities named as part of a $1 million private investment fund aimed at urban land revitalization. Chicago-based Fresh Coast Capital will use the money to convert vacant land in each city into working landscapes of trees, flowers and urban agriculture.

The project is the result of the White House Roundtable on Environmental Conservation and Restoration Finance, at which more than $2 billion in private sector investments were announced to protect land, water and wildlife. The $1 million from Fresh Coast Capital will go toward 60 acres of pilot projects across the six cities, resulting in 27,000 trees planted, 60 acres greened and 28 million pounds of carbon dioxide sequestered over 15 years.

The other cities involved in the project are Flint and Battle Creek, Michigan, St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, along with Youngstown, Ohio. 

"The Fresh Coast model partners with forward-thinking municipalities to turn vacant land –which is seen as a liability – into a unique and attractive asset," said Nicole Chavas, co-founder and CEO of Fresh Coast Capital.

The organization says the trees that will be planted will also passively manage stormwater and contribute to the cities' climate resiliency efforts. 

"These types of projects are exciting because they have the added benefit of helping cities cost-effectively reduce flooding, update aging infrastructure, and meet Clean Water Act requirements," said Laura Brenner Kimes, co-founder and director of ecosystem services.

Fresh Coast Capital says active, green reuse of vacant and blighted areas in communities will stabilize and improve property values, lower crime and improve health and environmental outcomes. A start date for the revitalization work was not announced.