Ohio City, Cleveland, Development, West 25th

Ohio City, Cleveland, Development, West 25th

Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 19, 2013

Last month, Richey Piiparinen wrote a piece at Belt Magazine on the development debate going on in Ohio City (link below). West 25th has seen rapid development in recent years with new bars, restaurants and shops, but this development isn't universally appreciated. Some people believe Ohio City can and should expand along the same lines as West 25th as an "entertainment district," and other people believe this sort of development threatens the community that makes Ohio City unique and special. Richey's article can be viewed at http://beltmag.com/fun-goes-bad/ (make sure to read Sam McNulty's thoughtful response). An interview with Alex Nosse of Joy Machines can be seen at http://tinyurl.com/qeay89x .

Our panelists for this conversation include:

Eric Wobser - Executive Director, Ohio City Inc.
Evelyn Burnett - Vice President, Economic Opportunity at Neighborhood Progress, Inc.
Jamar Doyle - Assistant Director at St. Clair Superior Development Corp.
Jack Storey - Director, Saving Cities
Richey Piiparenen - Essayist, Researcher, Co-founder at Rust Belt Chic Press
Lola Garcia-Prignitz - Ohio City Inc. board member and Jones Day attorney
Angie Schmitt - Founding Editor, Rust Wire Magazine

http://beltmag.com/fun-goes-bad/


Moderators (1)

Participants (19) See All

What do you think?

Anonymous
on 2017-08-23T08:06:06+00:00
Login or Register to contribute to this conversation

Recent Activity

Paul Vasko
on Jan 23, 2014
"Timothy, I could have written this quote "I have friends that were living in the Warehouse..."
Ronald Sarstedt
on Nov 29, 2013
"Ten days ago Civic Commons sponsored a forum discussing the direction of future development along..."
Krissie Wells
on Nov 22, 2013
"i find it irritating that i've been told by old guard city planners that mandating a mixed-income..."
ANITA CHATTERJEE
on Nov 21, 2013
"I don't know how exactly this works or if this conversation is dead, but I'll add one more bit. ..."
Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 21, 2013
"Thanks Jason!  "
josh rosen
on Nov 21, 2013
"It worked out well for us.  It isn't section 8 housing.  it is set-asides for working people..."
ANITA CHATTERJEE
on Nov 21, 2013
"Josh - This sounds great ... and like a reasonable comprimise economically.  Especially..."
josh rosen
on Nov 21, 2013
"I think it would be great if lawmakers and cdc's and neighborhood activists came together and..."
Lola Garcia Prignitz
on Nov 20, 2013
"Ha, well there is a reason I'm a lawyer and not an entrepeneaur! I'm not sure, but things I love..."
Jason Segedy
on Nov 20, 2013
"By the way, I haven't posted for a while, and like the adjustments to the site design, etc. Nice..."
Jason Segedy
on Nov 20, 2013
"I’m following this conversation from 35 miles south of Ohio City.  Here in Akron, we do not have..."
Timothy McCue
on Nov 20, 2013
"Well, there are many downsides to gentrification. Anita and the others alluded to some of them in..."
Fran Mentch
on Nov 20, 2013
"Residents of Ohio City better do all they can to protect their community! Anyone who is not..."
Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 20, 2013
"Jack - so what are you doing differently from OCI?  What are you changing?  This sounds like an..."
Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 20, 2013
"Thanks - so besides the Flea, which is once a month, are there natural anchors that you're..."
Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 20, 2013
"What businesses would naturally build up around them?  "
Lola Garcia Prignitz
on Nov 20, 2013
"I definetly think that neighborhoods with metro parks can leverage those assets.  One amazing..."
Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 20, 2013
"Day two.   To kick off, one of the things that was noted yesterday is that Ohio City took the..."
Jack Storey
on Nov 20, 2013
"I agree that "moments" are - and should be - helped along. OHC has no problem touting the amazing..."
Mike Kilbane
on Nov 19, 2013
"As a resident of Ohio  City for the last ten years, I wish to respond if I may to your critiques..."
Timothy McCue
on Nov 19, 2013
"Very well said Anita!"
Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 19, 2013
"Fantastic conversation today, everyone.  To summarize, much of Ohio City's development has..."
Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 19, 2013
"I understand the idea, but it seems like much of OC's "moment" (great term, btw) was helped..."
Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 19, 2013
"Timothy -  This continues tomorrow - please add your comments on the downsides, we'd love to..."
Timothy McCue
on Nov 19, 2013
"Hey everyone. I've been enjoying the comments and discussion today. As a former neighborhood..."
Lola Garcia Prignitz
on Nov 19, 2013
"I agree that copying West 25th shouldn't be the goal for other areas, but learning from it should..."
Jack Storey
on Nov 19, 2013
"I mean occupants who really can't afford to be leasing these spaces, who are taking advantage of..."
Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 19, 2013
"Anita -  There was recently a debate about whether gentrification could actually occur in a..."
Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 19, 2013
"Jack, I realize this might get you into trouble, but I'm going to ask it anyway: what do you mean..."
Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 19, 2013
"Thanks Evelyn!  Just curious - we saw that NPI is moving to Shaker.  Considering everything..."
Ronald Sarstedt
on Nov 29, 2013 - 11:04 am

Ten days ago Civic Commons sponsored a forum discussing the direction of future development along West 25th Street. It seems concern exists on many sides as to what is appropriate and what is not appropriate for the area known as Market Square. NGO’s like Neighborhood Progress Inc., Ohio City Inc. and The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority have their own vision of what the district should be while local business and the areas residence have their own.

 

I found the discussion to be both stimulating and varied. It definitely brought to light the differences between current development philosophies and actual implementation practices. It also reinforced the differing viewpoints of the areas NGOs and the areas stakeholders. No matter the varying viewpoints, I think everyone is well intentioned and doing a great job at bring life back to Ohio City in general and The Market Square District in particular. I also believe that with comprehensive planning, West 25th has room for everyone. The street can be anything it wants to be as long as growth is organic and a strong sense of place is maintained by sharply defined edges. Let it be what it wants to be because in 30 years it will be something else.

 

A glance at recent history showstheWest 25th Street of the late 70’s is notthe West 25th Street of today. The ABC was on the other side of the street and one did not venture in armed only with their fists. There was a department store, a drug store, and even our own pawn shop. There was a combination greasy spoon/fancy hand dipped chocolates shop that survived not on the food/chocolates they sold to the wealthy suburbanites, but on the locally supported bookie operation they ran. The businesses supported the neighborhood and the neighborhood supported the businesses. In those days only the very adventurous came from Chagrin Falls or Bay Village to visit and if you were to buy a home here, your parents thought you were crazy.

 

The establishments of the late 70’s probably would not support today’s neighborhood, however they did at that point in time. The street of the 70’s was neighborhood oriented and survived on the patronage of the local residences. With a few exceptions, today’s business establishments do not rely on the local community, they rely on regional support for prosperity. This is not to say there is anything wrong with this type of development, one just has to recognize the fact that the Market District has become a destination and as such requires a different set of physical requirements and parameters from those of years past. This is not Kansas any longer.

 

I do not believe the question is what type of development should take place, but how are the decisions being made for what type of development is to take place.

 

Planning concepts often become standard practice due various reasons; a financing mechanism has become available; it is derived from a solution that worked for a specific problem in a specific location and at a specific time; or one that has been developed from a well-defined and inherent set of goals as the primary foundation for designing an environment that is sustainable, transcends the status que, and creates an environment that is healthy and personable. The first two may or may not address the concerns of the day and will usually do nothing substantial to support a long term, sustainable neighborhood. The last example is the basis of the true art form of urban planning. It supports the needs, desires, and dreams of the areas users and opens the door to the development of an environment that will sustain itself.

 

Like most fashion statements, many planning trends tend to be like the flavor of the day and like the flavor of the day they have a tendency to come and go. Many go unproven or are short lived. Often failure becomes the norm when broad range concepts are applied to restricted areas. Planning concepts are made fashionable by the fast paced electronic media in a random and frantic search to calm the chaos that surrounds our everyday life. In some cases they do not even adequately address the problems they are meant to rectify.

 

These concepts are often supported by impressive sounding research or seemingly widely accepted practices such as urban living, density, and transit oriented development. Most often these concepts address urban development in general terms or are applied in an arbitrary manner or may not even apply to limited and restricted neighborhood development.

 

Having been an Ohio City resident off and on since 1973, I take great pride in knowing there are a great number of well-intentioned individuals actively working to make and to keep Ohio City the greatest place to live and by living, I mean what is often referred to as the live, work, and play concept. With this now in mind, we should return to the topic of this discussion, “What should West 25th Street be?” Personally, I think it could be and should be both. Actually it should be more, it should be whatever is required to be the best neighborhood anywhere.

 

During the past couple of years two development proposals have been presented by the areas NGO’s. What is being proposed they feel are necessary and preferable for sustaining the image, growth, and success of the District. Sometimes what is being said and what is reality are not the same. Both proposals are based on the broad stroked planning concepts previously mentioned; urban living, density, and transit oriented development. Physically both proposals are arbitrarily limited and both have limited vision. Nowhere do these proposals adequately address the fundamental survival issues of parking, vehicular congestion, or vehicular/bicycle/pedestrian conflicts. In fact, what is being proposed only adds to the chaos of the District. Additionally, nether proposal adequately addresses the multimodal integration usually associated with transit oriented development and nowhere are environmental issues even mentioned.  

 

These oversights apply only to the Districts most basic and every day functional operations. What about the Districts amenities that are unique, sustainable, and available to the entire neighborhood to enjoy. The type of amenities that make a good neighborhood great. What about a “Town Square” that is more than a bus stop and contributes to environmental by managing storm water? What about expanding Ohio City Farm and Farmstead to be a focal point of the District alongside the West Side Market and to provide educational opportunities. Is there a possibility of a park setting that cascades down Franklin Hill to the banks of the Cuyahoga and connect with a bike trail. Could the northern edge of Market District be Detroit Avenue with a bicycle terminus at each end of the bridge’s lower deck, accessible by the old streetcar ramps and amphitheaters? Maybe we could throw in some vertical connections from the bridge deck above to the Canal Basin Park below? Do you think parking could be placed over the Rapid tracks with a restaurant and fitness facility included and the roof equipped with solar panels and wind turbines to supply electricity the Market? By the way, a limited access West 25th Street between Franklin Blvd. and Lorain Avenue is just a perk of comprehensive planning.

 

I am sure all sides of this discussion are taking exception to what is being said, however I find it very difficult to segregate the two types of development, neighborhood or destination, in a comprehensive evolution of current urban life styles and development. There is nothing magical about creating a successfully combined neighborhood and destination urban environment or to take advantage of the Districts potential amenities. It just requires the establishment of time enduring goals, fundamental design objectives, and non-biased financial implementation, not the fashion of the day.

 

 

Now you are probably wondering who I am and why I am stating my opinion. Other than being a resident of Ohio City and the author of the Quality of Life Ideas for Cleveland, Ohio; No. 5-Market Square, I have no agenda for expressing my opinion other than attempting to make Ohio City the best neighborhood environment it possibly can be. Personally, I bought a house on Jay Avenue in 1973, rebuilt it with my father, and lived in it with my wife until 1981. Living in Ohio City in those days was a little like living in the Wild West with a Calvary detachment of only 35 families. Professionally I am an architect with over 37 years of experienced with single family residences, historic preservation, and urbanism. 

 
josh rosen
on Nov 21, 2013 - 9:06 am

I think it would be great if lawmakers and cdc's and neighborhood activists came together and insisted that new residential projects coming online in ohio city, tremont and downtown have a mixed-income component.  Why not insist that 20% of all rental units be set aside for people making 80% of area medium income?  That isn't such a high bar to meet - the rent that you can charge based on those numbers is still reasonably solid and it ensures that opportunities that come with development can reach more then just those who are well off.  I'm a developer and we do this willingly.  Most developers follow the incentives and if the incentives  mandate it, developers will comply, especially in areas like the ones i mentioned above where the market is reasonably strong.   I love hearing about all of these projects and I think some simple steps can really ensure these neighborhoods can still work for everyone

 

Responses(3)

ANITA CHATTERJEE
on Nov 21, 2013

Josh -

This sounds great ... and like a reasonable comprimise economically.  Especially refreshing to hear from a developer.  This is the kind of solution I have never understood why we cannot implement, but I am not an urban planner nor an economist.  I hope the leaders of our neighborhood are still watching this conversation because I would love to hear their thoughts on this. Are you working a mixed income component into your latest project?  What made it successful the last time you did it?  Do you think it's too late to incorporate this in Ohio City with so many projects already underway?

 
josh rosen
on Nov 21, 2013

It worked out well for us.  It isn't section 8 housing.  it is set-asides for working people making modest livings.   It would be fairly simple to require so long as the developer is going after public funding, whether that be infastructure dollars, public financing, tax increment financing, abatement etc.  It could also be a pre-condition to CDC support, variances, zoning changes being supported etc.  Developers would whine but they would follow the money just like we do now for community benefit agreements.  I think it would be too late for projects underway but ones proposed now could definitely have this as part of the equation.

 
Krissie Wells
on Nov 22, 2013

i find it irritating that i've been told by old guard city planners that mandating a mixed-income approach in projects that receive loans or grants from the city would thus negate the subsidy they'd receive. as if they are going to deny the $! they sign community benefits agreements to get it, etc..anyway, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me, and i think this approach, that we need these developers -so- badly that we will not dare give this mandate...seems ridiculous to me and a good way of ensuring economic diversity moving forward, and josh, you're a developer, so i would certainly trust your opinion on the matter!

 
Expand This Thread
Jason Segedy
on Nov 20, 2013 - 4:41 pm

By the way, I haven't posted for a while, and like the adjustments to the site design, etc. Nice work.

 

Responses(1)

Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 21, 2013

Thanks Jason!

 

 
Expand This Thread
Jason Segedy
on Nov 20, 2013 - 4:35 pm

I’m following this conversation from 35 miles south of Ohio City.  Here in Akron, we do not have a neighborhood precisely comparable to Ohio City, particularly in terms of having both an established residential community and an entertainment district that is so frequently patronized by those from outside of the neighborhood.

The two closest analogues in Akron are Downtown and Highland Square. 

Downtown is continuing to develop a thriving entertainment district, but, until very recently, had very little in terms of residential development.  It is now beginning to see rapid residential growth, and its population will soon have tripled in the past few years, and could potentially see a five-fold increase by the end of this decade.

Highland Square is the opposite case:  like Ohio City, it is densely populated and diverse, with homes dating back to the late 19th century, but its revitalizing business-district consists primarily of neighborhood-oriented establishments.

While none of these three neighborhoods are identical, there are similar themes emerging. 

Right now, in Downtown Akron, there is a debate over how much new residential housing the neighborhood can absorb.  Some are worried that residential construction is outpacing demand, while others, like myself, feel that the growth in new housing is quickly approaching the critical mass needed to spur the additional residential and commercial development that will transform it into a legitimately self-sufficient neighborhood capable of supporting a grocery store and other vital neighborhood retail. 

In Highland Square there have been heated debates (similar to those going on Ohio City) over the appropriate mix of chains/franchises vs. locally-owned commercial establishments.  A proposed Taco Bell was driven-off by grassroots activism, in a manner similar to the way that the current debate over the proposed Ohio City McDonald’s is unfolding.  Residents, community activists, and city officials have continually debated and discussed the pros and cons of how a Starbucks or a Chipotle, etc. fit into the neighborhood.  There is a recognition that franchised businesses are needed to attract visitors and other retailers, but there is also an awareness that attracting too many of them could destroy the quirky, offbeat vibe that has been the neighborhood’s calling card for so many years. Similar debates have also occurred over how much parking is too much, how should new buildings be designed, etc.

I think this is a fascinating conversation, and there is a lot that we here in Akron can learn from what is being debated and discussed in Ohio City right now.  How do we strike a healthy balance between commercial activity which serves the needs of both residents and visitors?  Similarly, how do we maintain a residential environment which is attractive and welcoming to newcomers and prospective investors, but also provides increasing equality and opportunity for the wide and diverse range of existing residents? 

This is a conversation that I don’t think Rust Belt cities were having 10 or 15 years ago.  As we continue to take halting, furtive, and vital steps toward reinventing and reimagining our neighborhoods and communities, I think it is critical that we continue to compare notes, share best practices, and learn by doing.  Cleveland and Akron can, and should, learn a lot from one another.  We should take advantage of our proximity and our similar, but divergent, post-industrial legacies.

 
Fran Mentch
on Nov 20, 2013 - 2:35 pm

Residents of Ohio City better do all they can to protect their community! Anyone who is not active in this effort should GET ACTIVE NOW. Take it from me--I have seen what the poor governance in Cleveland Heights and South Euclid and University Heights has cost our community. The mayors and city council members and county council members have given away some of our greatest assets-Oakwood Country Club is now Superwalmart when it could have been a Metropark. Now citizens are fighting in court to stop the sale of the South Euclid-Lyndhurst Telling Mansion Library. The Cuyahoga County Public Library Board is trying to sell this building for pennies on the dollar to one individual for a veiled project and the use of the historic tax credits. Only Lyndhurst City Council is acting in a responsible way to try to protect this important community asset. Ohio City residents PROTECT YOUR COMMUNITY. Please sign our petition to help us stop the sale of our (yours and my) public wealth:

 
Andrew Samtoy
From the Moderator: Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 20, 2013 - 9:40 am

Day two.  

To kick off, one of the things that was noted yesterday is that Ohio City took the natural draws of the West Side Market and Great Lakes and flipped those to its benefit, using them to enhance the natural appeal and character of the neighborhood.  Where else in Cleveland could this be done without damaging the community, and how would it look?

 

Responses(3)

Lola Garcia Prignitz
on Nov 20, 2013

I definetly think that neighborhoods with metro parks can leverage those assets.  One amazing thing about  cleveland is that it can offer a lot of very urban amenities as well as those traditionally associated with suburban areas.  Other neighborhoods could take a similar approach to their parks that Ohio City did with the market: invest in improving the safety and appearance of the asset and organize attractive programming around the asset to bring in a variety of people

 
Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 20, 2013

What businesses would naturally build up around them?  

 
Lola Garcia Prignitz
on Nov 20, 2013

Ha, well there is a reason I'm a lawyer and not an entrepeneaur! I'm not sure, but things I love around he places I hike and run both in Northeast Ohio and my native Colorado: running stores, coffee shops, bike shops and little groceries with Gatorade and fancy trail mix.

 
Expand This Thread
Andrew Samtoy
From the Moderator: Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 19, 2013 - 5:04 pm

Fantastic conversation today, everyone.  To summarize, much of Ohio City's development has brought some enviable economic vitality to the neighborhood, but there is concern that it is also leaving many of Ohio City's residents behind, with the potential to force them out.  As for whether it's something to copy in other neighborhoods, the jury is out - and we look forward to reconvening tomorrow to continue this discussion!  

Thanks,

Andrew

 

Responses(1)

Timothy McCue
on Nov 20, 2013

Well, there are many downsides to gentrification. Anita and the others alluded to some of them in their comments. I can't help but think of some of the non-profits I have run into in the DC Metro region that have run into this. A day care that served low-income residents and refugees was forced out of their space cause the landlord could attract a higher paying tenant. Homeless/housing agencies that are afflicted--when the "market rate" goes up overtime the cost of housing the homeless or those that receive assistance (housing vouchers) also goes up. For example, your the value of a housing voucher in Montgomery County, MD is higher than in other communities I work. And it is not just the low-income families either, middle class families that can't afford to buy/rent in those communities or businesses that can't afford to stay (or even open) are often afflicted as well.

 
Expand This Thread
Timothy McCue
on Nov 19, 2013 - 4:20 pm

Hey everyone. I've been enjoying the comments and discussion today. As a former neighborhood resident, frequent visitor, and philanthropic professional--I enjoy the healthy dialogue and constructive differences of opinion. I do applaud the great work and vision of Ohio City Inc, NPI and the many great agencies (for profit, non-profit and governement) that are fighting the fight to reimagine not only Ohio City but neighborhoods and inner ring suburbs East and West in Cleveland. Here's a little bit of my 2 cents:

That said, and all this is said of my own personal opinion, I tend to side with my pal Dan Brown and Mr. Piipari. I look to the likes of cities our size such as Pittsburgh and their South Side, Oakland or Shadyside neighborhoods, Columbus's Short North or German Village--or even the larger Metro areas of Seattle, DC, Chicago and NYC. All of those are leading the way and kicking Cleveland's butt, in rebuilding their neighborhoods with a diverse set of housing stock, entertainment, retail and employment that is accessible at a variety of price points to a wide array of the population of the highest and lowest incomes, not just one niche population.

I have friends that were living in the Warehouse District and Ohio City that have moved to other sections of Cleveland cause they can get housing at a fraction of the cost, and in some cases feel like they are in a safer surrounding. I fear that we are inflating a housing balloon that will burst. There are only so many jobs in the 216 that allow folks to afford a $1,200+ apartment.

I've said it before, not everyone that lives, works or visits Ohio City can afford to live, work or play there. We have to make sure that those receiving services at agencies like West Side Catholic Center or living at THI also have options, cause I guarantee they aren't dining at Crop and probably wouldn't feel welcome at Market Brewery!

We also have to consider that you can't go to Lakewood, Legacy, Beachwood, Strongsville or Parma etc without seeing folks from Cleveland! While leadership may think chains or big box are four letter words, the fact is those companies are investing in cities: be it Red Robin in the heart of Seattle or the Cheesecake Factory at South Side Works in Pittsburgh. I'm tired of the line, they aren't interested! We are just not soliciting them enough, and tend to fight them off when they show interest! Don't get me wrong, I'm all about artisan and local (though we'll never grow a pineapple and many other produce in Cleveland) but we will not build a sustainable neighborhood on 100% local (or 100% chain). Lakewood is a great example of a community recognizing there is room for both. No where in the recent McDonald's debate did I see anyone suggesting another alternative site in the neighborhood. I used to rent videos at Hollywood Video and would rather see a McDonald's there than a vacant storefront, and the last thing that site needs is another local brew house.

Dan is also right about the "whack a mole" effect. I've been in Cleveland since 1997 and remember The Flats and Tower City in their hey day. The Flats started to go down when East 4th popped up! The Warehouse District is already showing signs of struggle. It is inevitable that another neighborhood pop up or further develop (i.e. Downtown, Uptown, Detroit Shoreway, St. Clair Superior, Edgewater or Tremont) and steal/attract some of the Ohio City crowd.

I live in Bellaire Puritas (rent a great house for a great price on a safe street) and work in Pepper Pike. In any given week I may find myself in Brookpark, Ohio City, Valley View, Strongsville, Downtown, Parma, Crocker Park for errands, time with friends, a date, shopping, dining, entertainment etc at a variety of big box or local, high end or affordable price points. Developers and investors need to think about the individuals (and more importantly families) like me, that are blind to the zip code the stuff on my plate, beer in their glass, or products in their cart came from and because of the fragile economy we are still in focus more on quality, affordability, and customer service. 

I'd be more than happy to share some insights on the downside of gentrification that I've seen first hand in the likes of Washington, DC/Arlington/Alexandria. I'll save that for another day!

Thanks for listening to my rant! :)

-Timothy

 

Responses(2)

Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 19, 2013

Timothy - 

This continues tomorrow - please add your comments on the downsides, we'd love to hear them!

 
Paul Vasko
on Jan 23, 2014

Timothy, I could have written this quote "I have friends that were living in the Warehouse District and Ohio City that have moved to other sections of Cleveland cause they can get housing at a fraction of the cost, and in some cases feel like they are in a safer surrounding."