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/


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on 2017-03-30T06:44:27+00:00
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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!

 

 
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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.

 
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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." I have lived in Little Italy and Ohio City and now reside in West Park. I find it definitely more affordable, as well as friendlier and safer. I recently purchased a wonderful old home in my neighborhood for much less than I paid for my last new car. I enticed a friend of mine to move up from Ohio City when he got priced out with a new landlord. He is living in a well-maintained single family brick bungalow for 1/2 the price of his Ohip City rent."Sexy" my neighborhood is not  (the neighborhood doesn't offer the trendier bars and restaurants)but  it is safe, walkable,has dependable public transportation, Supports a Giant Eagle and a  Marc's, has several parks, easy access to major highways.The "Education Corridor" adds to the mix in attracting young families."Sustainable" is a key word that should be part of the conversation when neighborhood revitalization is being discussed. It takes many ingredients to create and sustain a vibrant, affordable neighborhood and you hit on many of them. I agree with you about Lakewood being a good example of a community doing it right.

 
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Andrew Samtoy
From the Moderator: Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 19, 2013 - 2:12 pm

Joe Cimperman asked this on Twitter:

 

joecimperman @joecimperman

 

@civiccommons @schmangee @ashleytaseff is successful occupancy better than spiraling vacancy?

 

Responses(4)

Daniel Brown
on Nov 19, 2013

... of course. Abandonment / vacancy does nothing for its neighbors. Occupancy provides much-needed tax revenue, ostensibly jobs, and a landlord who is - at the very least - caring enough to have a tennant. 

Having said that scarcity produces barriers to entry for a huge portion of population without access to traditional lenders. 

 

Here is an example of a project taking place in Detroit that takes aim at the 'spiraling vacancy' but without regard for community impact - it is attempting to aquire land - a ton of land - in order to create scarcity in turn artificially inflating property value without the general public having a say in its development : http://www.hantzfarmsdetroit.com/

 
Jack Storey
on Nov 19, 2013

I don't think this question can be answered generically. Successful Occupancy can be defined in so many ways, and can be truly detrimental to future planning; obviously, spiraling vacancy sounds awful, but sometimes puts an area in a better position to redefine itself.

There's bandaid development (which a lot of Cleveland participates in) and there's strategic, long-term development. I would take spiraling vacancy over the quality (read: lack thereof) that are populating the storefronts in parts of Collinwood. I suppose you could say that I'm more of a proactive development advocate, as opposed to a reactionary development person.

Either way, Councilman's question is a valid one that can't be answered simply, as that would be truly reckless.

 
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 by "lack thereof" in quality?  

 
Jack Storey
on Nov 19, 2013

I mean occupants who really can't afford to be leasing these spaces, who are taking advantage of scared landlords who are willing to take "anything" just to offset the losses they've suffered over the past decade. In my neighborhood, whole blocks are owned by one or two individuals who are aging and terrified of "waiting out" the revival. This allows for less-than-optimal-occupants who pay in cash, lower amounts than I feel comfortable publicizing, and often "operate" these storefronts with dual purposes, and sometimes they are just using the space as a squatting location.

They are technically occupied, but aren't meeting any of the needs of the community, and don't intend to. Obviously, I refrain from pointing deliberate fingers, but there are more than a couple handfuls of examples.

Other factors include: a lack of any kind of business plan, structure, or even - in more cases than you'd want to admit - an idea of what they're trying to do. It's a cart before the horse situation being made possible by fear.

 
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Evelyn  Burnett
on Nov 19, 2013 - 1:57 pm

Hi Civic Commoners!

 

Evelyn Burnett, VP of Economic Opportunity at Cleveland Neighborhood Progress joining. I left Cleveland in 2009 and returned this past January. The change in Ohio in those short four years is amazing. The change was happening when I left but started moving at lightning speed due to the incredible work on dedicated entrepreneurs and assistance from Ohio City Inc. Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, a resident of Ohio City, is delighted by the development and was one of the early investors in the redevelopment with the Dave's Supermarket and Fries & Schuele project. We continue to see Ohio City and the W. 25th Street corridor as key development projects that beg the same attention and investment as the Euclid Corridor and key development projects around the city.

 

 

Responses(1)

Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 19, 2013

Thanks Evelyn!  Just curious - we saw that NPI is moving to Shaker.  Considering everything you're doing, do you see its development moving in the same way as W. 25th?  

 

 
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Jamar Doyle
on Nov 19, 2013 - 1:12 pm

If you think of the development of Ohio City as an asset based strategy it certainly can and should be replicated, with communities recognizing their own unique assets and strengths and building on them in an authentic way.  In my opinion Ohio City’s success can be attributed to the value they placed in their assets years ago, mainly the West Side Market and historic homes and commercial storefronts.  Being true to and spotlighting these assets allowed for investment and redevelopment to follow.  For other communities this strategy may be similar but the results will be vastly different based on that community’s needs, assets and direction.  Furthermore this can be done in a way that alleviates concerns of gentrification if residents themselves are viewed as assets

 

For instance in St. Clair Superior we look at the cultural heritage, industry, growing artist community, lakefront, and even vacant housing and commercial units as assets.  We’re highlighting the things that are already here.  In fact the Cleveland Flea grew out of us recognizing there were 5 second hand stores on St. Clair.  Rather than push them out we partnered with them to improve their merchandising and launched The Flea, which in October attracted over 8000 people to St. Clair.  This is new money and positive exposure for the community.  While we’re bringing in a crowd from all over, were engaging our residents and business owners in a way that they can participate in the Flea and receive a real economic benefit from the activity.  Ultimately I think this is the goal of neighborhood development, to foster growth and development that supports the entire community.

 

Responses(1)

Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 20, 2013

Thanks - so besides the Flea, which is once a month, are there natural anchors that you're developing around?

 
Expand This Thread
Andrew Samtoy
From the Moderator: Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 19, 2013 - 12:22 pm

So should other places attempt to copy West 25th?  Is it something that even CAN be copied in other neighborhoods?  

 

Responses(20)

Jack Storey
on Nov 19, 2013

Copy? No. Learn from? Yes.

Every district, corridor, and neighborhood has a uniqueness that can't and shouldn't be replicated. Cleveland often suffers from the "Collinwood is the next OHC, which was the next UC, which was the next..." We need to do a better job recognizing our individual strengths, while learning from and working with others to ensure collaborative success for the greater whole.

 
Daniel Brown
on Nov 19, 2013

I think too many places are in fact trying to emulate the success of W. 25th. It is very much in line with the flavor of the week. Dense development, active streetscape, 'vibrant' night life and the like. What neighborhood in Cleveland wouldn't want that? The problem is no other cooridor has the right mix of density and resources to rally around. What I want to suggest is that neighborhoods look inward to their own internal resoruces and leverage those as opposed to trying to cherry pick best practices from across town. Cleveland is a diverse town and we our neighborhoods should celebrate that. 

 

I look to the migration of the Flats to W. 6th and now W. 6th to W. 25th. We, as a city, have been playing 'development' Wack-a-mole for decades now but have failed to learn from our mistakes. We need a new model for sustained development that does not displace people or capitol but rather supports community wealth building and resiliance in light of the boom-and-bust economic reality our city so gently treds on. 

 
Edward Sotelo
on Nov 19, 2013

Shucks, I went to St. Ignatius, too. I remember the Jesuits' response to why the school wouldn't move to the 'burbs.  To paraphrase, "We need to be in the city, and so do you".

 
Daniel Brown
on Nov 19, 2013

The folks at Ignatius do say that but it seems that only recently their graduates are heeding their advice. The development along W. 25th is perfect for your proto-typical Ignatius graduate, but is it for the life-long residents? 

The big thing for me is knowing how to enter into and engage with communities, something few Ignatius graudates know how to do. They still view Ohio City, or anywhere in Cleveland for that matter as 'unsafe' or 'unclean' or 'ghetto' - lets be frank, most Ignatius graduates come from wealthy white suburban cities (myself included) but few take the time to learn from and engage themselves with the city unless it is self-serving.

Many of the graduates of Ignatius feel as though they have a huge stake in the Ohio City community despite having only spent time on W. 25th in very recent years  and certainly not during their time at Ignatius. They don't know about the work being done at Esperanza, Enterprise Community Partners, Kentucky Farms, The Intergenerational School, Ohio City Bike Co-op, The Westside Catholic Center, Province House, or elsewhere. The primary concern of Ignatius graduates who express interest in Ohio City, particularly W. 25th - I am clearly generalizing here - is when the happy hour at Town Hall is. 

 
Edward Sotelo
on Nov 19, 2013

Yeah, and I think what you're describing is actually a sentiment not just shared by graduates of said school (not all of them, of course), but of those who seek to reconcile city energy with suburban safety.Could Ohio City be both? Not that it isn't a neighborhood, but perhaps the goal of achieving a real liveability across the economic board is the goal. As I'm sure it is.   It will obviously take more than restaurants and boutiques to create that, however.  Which I think everyone here acknowledges.

 
Daniel Brown
on Nov 19, 2013

Edward, I think thats a fair point and I clearly over-generalized. I am speaking strictly from personal experience where many fellow graduates of my school only experiences the city by coming downtown to W. 6th or W. 25th on weekends, which is a shame. I think you are right though, the reason they feel comfortable in these locations is in large part because of the perception of safety. The suburbanization of urban settings, however, leads to the dislocation or at least pricing out of many life-long residents, and this concern for me and many other people I work with is paramount. 

 
Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 19, 2013

Daniel - thought: hasn't the development whack-a-mole sort of worked, though?  I mean, if it went from West 6th to West 25th and now, perhaps, to Gordon Square, this game has left dense populations and thriving businesses in its wake - at least as far as restaurants and bars go.  

 
Daniel Brown
on Nov 19, 2013

It has "worked" if your metrics for success don't include overall poverty, employment, foreclosure, drop-out or abandonment rates. These developments have done a great deal to bring in and attract new talented people to start-up businesses, without question. The story not being told is how transient these boom and bust cycles are. W. 6th and the Warehouse District in general is hardly thriving and clearly grappling with its own growing or contracting pains (http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2010/07/clevelands_warehouse_district.html ) 

What is left in "it's wake" is a slightly whiter, slightly more expensive, slightly less economically inclusive neighborhood. How does that benefit the majority Clevelanders? 

 
Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 19, 2013

I'm trying to picture what it would look like to have a "rising tide that lifts all boats," so to speak...

 
Edward Sotelo
on Nov 19, 2013

Boom and bust indeed. We can all agree to think of longer cycles. But is there civic willpower behind such a search? More importantly, does the structure of federal and state grants allow for such a thing? I'm inclined to think that businesses that lend themselves to longer cycles of growth and prosperity, are those that provide services. Grocery stores, gas stations, hardware stores, laundromats, and the like.

 
Daniel Brown
on Nov 19, 2013

If communities had a sense of ownership of these projects/ "developments" and hired locally the narrative might be different. I think that we can look to the work being done by the Cleveland Foundation with the Evergreen Cooperative, scale that down to mom-and-pop shops (like the grocery stores, gas stations, hardware stores, laundromates and the like) and we begin to get a picture of what community stability  can be. Not only that but there is the added factor that also generates wealth for and by the community - "rising the tide that lifts all the boats."

It's not a panacea but it is a model not widely explored here in Cleveland. 

 
Edward Sotelo
on Nov 19, 2013

Believe it or not, when I think of mom-and-pop shops, I actually think of Clark Avenue. I don't know how successful some of those business are, but many of them have been thriving in that area for many years. In order to do so, they must be addressing the needs of the neighborhood around them, which is rather different than Ohio City.  Perhaps there's a clue to what a rising economic tide would look like?

 
Jack Storey
on Nov 19, 2013

I think it's critical to remember the role of merchants in the development of a neighborhood, or even the CDCs role for that matter. Let's keep in mind that the city and the overall ability of our local government plays a much larger role in continued poverty, deteriorating infrastructure, etc. W. 25th Street should not be held accountable for all the gentrification woes of a depopulating city, nor should the CDC.

There are roles to be played, and these institutions can only do so much. The city itself has to take a much, much, much more proactive role.

 
Daniel Brown
on Nov 19, 2013

Might this be a part of the solution? 

 
Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 19, 2013

DBB - I understand PB, but I'm failing to make the connection...

 
Daniel Brown
on Nov 19, 2013

Andrew, 

Jack mentioned the fact that the city has the ability to play a much more active role in addressing poverty, deteriorating infrastructure and what not. CDC's and merchants cannot single handedly control gentrification or the other types of development taking place around them, at least not to the extent that government can. 

I am suggesting that perhaps Participatory Budgeting can be a vehicle through which the tax payers simultaneously become more involved with their government while also providing keen - and much needed - insight to inform elected officials how to best allocate their tax revenue for the benefit their community. Who knows best the needs of the community than the members who make it up? 

 
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 be. The model of taking advantage of an area's moment (as other commenters have noted, West 25th may just be the most recent in a line of Cleveland hot spots) and leveraging it to create sustainable and maintainable growth in Ohio City can be a model. i don't think The Flats or even the Warehouse District attempted to use their windows of popularity to make sustaonable communities, I.e. Leveraging that popularity into creating residents and providing amenities and family friendly programming and resources to retain those residents.

 
Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 19, 2013

I understand the idea, but it seems like much of OC's "moment" (great term, btw) was helped along, if not manufactured.  Are there other "moments" that can be created in, say, Collinwood?  (Cue Jack)

 
Jack Storey
on Nov 20, 2013

I agree that "moments" are - and should be - helped along. OHC has no problem touting the amazing support of partners like Charter One, who really led the early entrepreneurial investment on W. 25th, if I recall correctly. The Waterloo moments that are occurring are in large thanks to CPAC, the NEA, and Kresge. It's never a bad thing to leverage partners to create these moments, assuming that those partners aren't doing it to gain too much power and influence.

As for crafting those ideas and making them happen: that, to me, is where the CDC world shines. CDCs work with the community to develop these massively cool and often unreasonably awesome plans, and then they get to work finding the funding and other resources to make it happen. I believe that, if and when the city gets on board more fully, there will be no stopping the amount of creative destruction we can do.

As a specific example in Collinwood, I reached out to Alan Glazen (of ABC and XYZ fame) after he posted a question about Waterloo on Facebook. We met up, he agreed to come out and take a look, and within a week we were talking about what has become Project Light Switch, a streetwide effort to launch 5 new taverns and restaurants on Waterloo in one "moment" in late summer of 2014.

Alan didn't wait to see if this was the "best" idea at the "right" time; he just acted on it because he believed in it. It's that kind of energy and commitment to an idea that has gotten things done around here, and will continue to get things done across Cleveland.

 
Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 20, 2013

Jack - so what are you doing differently from OCI?  What are you changing?  This sounds like an excellent opportunity.

 
Expand This Thread
Eric Wobser
on Nov 19, 2013 - 10:13 am

Hello Civic Commoners,

This is Eric Wobser, Executive Director of Ohio City Inc.  I am also a neighborhood resident for nearly nine years and, along with my wife, am raising a family in the community.  Ohio City Incorporated recently completed a strategic plan to focus our organization's work on guiding the development of the neighborhood.  Ohio City is growing and our goal is to ensure that the neighborhood grows in sustainable and inclusive ways. 

We seek to be part of a thriving intergenerational and mixed-income community that connects its residents to each other as well as to opportunities for employment and enrichment.

You can view our Strategic Plan here: http://origin.library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1102184300899-800/14_16_OCI_StrategicVisionFINALemail.pdf

A recent market study showed immediate demand for nearly 2,000 units of housing in the community. Ohio City Inc., in order to accommodate this demand (which we believe is critical to Cleveland's future), is focused on facilitating dense development along major commercial corridors. The increased supply will reduce housing cost pressure on the existing housing stock of the neighborhood and allow existing housing stock to remain family-friendly.Building up density along the neighborhood's corridors will drive demand for public transportation and neighborhood retail, while also creating a pipeline of demand for Ohio City's single family homes as the circumstances and housing needs of new residents evolve over time.In addition to adding enough supply to meet housing demand and thus to stabilize housing prices, Ohio City Inc. has set a goal for 10% of new housing units in the neighborhood to be affordable. To this end, Ohio City Inc. is in the process of partnering with Neighborhood Housing Services this year on the development of new affordable housing in Ohio City's historic district on West 45th Street.Nearly 40% of Ohio City's existing population is below the poverty line, more than double the 17% average in Cuyagoga County. Ohio City will remain a low-income neighborhood and Ohio City Inc. will focus on ensuring that adequate housing exists across the spectrum of affordability while also developing a housing market that meets market demand. The goal is that professionals, working families and those most in need can find a quality home in the community.

Ohio City Inc. is focused on encouraging interaction among its diverse residents, on bringing residents from different backgrounds together in meaningful ways and to make sure that the benefits of an improving neighborhood inure to as many as possible. Access to quality public schools, transportation, safe streets, recreation programs and day-to-day shopping needs will benefit residents of all income levels. As new residents of choice advocate for better services and schools, an intentional focus on inclusivity can ensure that the benefit of these improvements are felt by all residents of the community. An example of this includes the Near West Intergenerational School, which was recruited to the neighborhood by a group of largely professional families but serves a population from the community that is majority-minority and majority low-income.Ohio City Inc. has developed recreational programming as a tool to attract and retain families of all income levels as well as to introduce families to each other who might not meet otherwise. The program has been wildly successful and has expanded, under the label of Near West Recreation, to several other neighborhoods. Intentional programming like Near West Recreation will help build meaningful relationships that break down barriers of race and class and improve the quality of life for all neighborhood residents.

As far as West 25th Street, entertainment districts come and go. Too much focus in a community on attracting visitors can cause imbalance. Ohio city is a proud destination neighborhood and will continue to focus on attracting visitors and the investment they bring to the community. Many new residents of the neighborhood first discovered Ohio City as a patron.However, Ohio City is not an entertainment district but rather a complete neighborhood that balances between the needs of residents and visitors. Ohio City has strong daytime employment and anchor institutions such as Saint Ignatius, Lutheran Hospital and the West Side Market.Ohio City will thrive over the next century because of strong housing stock, walkability and easy connections to nearby employment centers, accessible greenspace and waterfronts, great schools and strong institutions. If these fundamentals are in place the neighborhood's success will be sustainable, as will visitor demand.

West 25th Street, while important, is one corner of a dynamic and diverse community.  We look forward to engaging in this dialogue as we focus on how to make the most of Ohio City's assets and people in order to create a brighter future for the neighborhood and all of Greater Cleveland.

 

 

Responses(2)

Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 19, 2013

In reading this plan, two things stick out:

1) It seems that, while "organic" growth is desirable, much of the growth in Ohio City seems meticulously planned; 

2) Much of the economic development is based on the "entertainment" hubs (although there are other businesses mixed in).  The development of community assets seems to be disconnected from this.  

Am I off here?  

 
Eric Wobser
on Nov 19, 2013

Hi Andrew,  a few quick responses to your comments:

1) I think the Market Centennial was meticulously planned as was some of the work in the Market District around that time, but the reality is that Ohio City has welcomed over 60 new businesses all over the neighborhood, in buildings owned by many different people, and with small scale developers driving the investment.  For example, we would have never predicted that Fred and Laura Bidwell would transform a section of the neighborhood with the Transformer Station, but they chose to invest there.  There is no master plan for that area but Graham Veysey, an ambitious entrepreneur, saw the opportunity and redeveloped a vacant building across the street and tenanted it with two amazing retailers, Rising Star and Urban Orchid.  That success has led to Graham and a small group of investors taking on an adjacent building.  Very little of this has been meticulously planned by the public or civic sector. 

Justin Carson of JC Beertech is leading a similar effort on Lorain Avenue and bring 40 jobs to Cleveland from Medina.  While we are certainly spending a lot of time planning the big picture infrastructure of the neighborhood's infrastructure in partnership with City Council and the Jackson Administration, the entrepreneurs themselves are dictating what is happening.  JC Beertech is not destination-driven in any way.

2) Yes, there has been a great deal of investment in entertainment hubs in the neighborhood and, to those who utilize Ohio City mostly as a destination for entertainment, this is most obvious. However, to our residents, they are equally aware of and benefit from the work of a group of families who attracted a high-performing school to the community or whose children are one of the over 500 who utilize our recreation leagues.  Our asset-based development strategy is workign with Lutheran Hospital, Urban Community School, Saint Ignatius and others to make this programming possible.  Our partnership with NHS to develop affordable housing also has no element of entertainment, nor does our Ohio City Dialogues forum which brings together over 50 nonprofits in the neighborhood to better plan services in the neighborhood.  Nor do the workforce development programs in partnership with CMHA on Ohio City Farm. 

Yes, millions of people visit West 25th and other emerging entertainment venues in the neighborhood.  The reality is that more bars have closed than have opened (Moda, Garage, Grilley's, Envy and Argos are all gone) and that the vast majority of new businesses are not bars or even restaurants.

There is much more to this neighborhood than entertainment  and those who live here and work here and utilize services in the neighborhood are well aware of the work being done to make Ohio City a welcoming and complete community.

 
Expand This Thread
Richey Piiparinen
on Nov 19, 2013 - 8:37 am

Hi all, I am a locally-based policy strategist and researcher that spends a lot time thinking about this stuff. My initial thoughts...

Ohio City has made great strides. Investment is coming in. Things are being built. Commerce is humming. Leases are signing. Local beers consumed. Local eats eaten. This is good. But this is not enough.

Actually, far from it.

The mistake cities make when it comes to reinvestment into the urban core is to settle with the low-hanging fruit of gentrification. Here, the neighborhood is seen as a center of consumption, with trickle down effects from increased commerce said to reach low-income residents living in gentrifying, or potentially gentrifying, neighborhoods. This does not happen. In fact, as researched by urbanist Richard Florida, the arrival of the “creative class” into a neighborhood is not a panacea, far from it. “On close inspection,” Florida writes in the Atlantic Cities, “talent clustering provides little in the way of trickle-down benefits [to the poor].”

This does not mean the infill going on in Ohio City is unwelcomed. That is absurd. Concentrated poverty and segregation is no way forward. It is only to say something else is needed. Ohio City needs to be made into a neighborhood that produces, not simply one that consumes.

Produces what? Capacity, potential, new ways of thinking, and interaction that breaks down barriers that have consistently divided us.

One way to do this is to ensure that the diversity of race, class, and businesses that currently exist in the neighborhood continues in the face of increasing market demand. For instance, as of 2010, Ohio City is 36% Black, 20% Hispanic, and 54% White. Ensuring such heterogeneity continues as the “hip” factor ramps up is the challenge of the day, not just in Cleveland, but for the whole of urban America. To date, no city has systematically ensured a process of policies that prioritizes the long-term benefits of integrated, equitable communities over the short-term benefits of consumer-driven gentrification.

The benefits include increased economic mobility for individuals who grow up in integrated neighborhoods. For instance, a new study called “The Equality of Opportunity Project”  found that Cleveland ranked 45th out of 50 metro areas in terms of upward mobility, meaning a child in Cleveland raised in the bottom fifth of an income class only has a five percent chance of rising to the top fifth in her lifetime. The study, however, concludes that “upward mobility tended to be higher in metropolitan areas where poor families were more dispersed among mixed-income neighborhoods”.

That said, Ohio City could be a model not only locally, but nationally in the creation of an equitable, integrated neighborhood. This depends on a re-prioritization of “revitalization” capital from one chiefly financially-based, to community- and human-focused. Some say this is impossible, or simply just feign exasperation. “"I have never…come up with a satisfactory answer of how to make sure everyone benefits [from gentrification],” notes New York’s City Planning Director.

But others, like scholar Storm Cunningham, feel creating equitable neighborhoods that leverages reinvestment for all demographics is simply not a priority. Cunningham writes: “Avoiding unfair pain, and damage to heritage, must be a conscious and measured component of the redevelopment project’s goals. It seldom is: too many developers and planners make it sound like such suffering is the inevitable price of progress. Bull: it’s just a lack of sufficient desire to avoid it.”

Cleveland is at a threshold. The re-investment is coming, and the importance of this infill as a means to arrest its economic and demographic decline cannot be overstated. Yet this will only occur if re-investment is leveraged so as to develop real economic growth. In other words, simply developing “creative class” enclaves in the likes of Ohio City and Tremont will do nothing to transition Cleveland from a segregated, siloed city with high rates of poverty into a globalized, integrated city comprised of neighborhoods that produce human capacity.

 

Responses(7)

Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 19, 2013

Question, then - would one result of increase this diversity of race, class and businesses be that some neighborhoods would have to gentrify - but only a little?  

 
Eric Wobser
on Nov 19, 2013

I think every neighborhood will change to an extent.  Segregated communities, regardless of who lives in them, fly in the face of Richey's important work of breaking down silos between and among people from different backgrounds.  Adding residents of choice to a neighborhood does not necessarily mean it is gentrifying.  The low real estate values in Greater Cleveland and the relative availability of low-cost land and buildings mean that there is plenty of room to add new people without necessarily displacing others. 

In communities like Ohio City, where demand is accelerating quickly, we have to be more intentional about ensuring there is enough housing available and affordable but those places are not in imminent danger of becoming exlusive creative class enclaves. We are 39% low income currently and likely have a large amount of low-income residents for decades to come.  We are focused on better connecting residents of different backgrounds to each other in ways that enrich both of their lives.  What are the amenities, such as public transportation and good quality schools, that impact lives regardless of income? 

Also, while certainly consumption is a major part of what has happened on West 25th Street, it is not only consumption that drives Ohio City's economics.  We have over a dozen manufacturers in the neighborhood, many of them growing quickly.  We also have over 50 nonprofits including schools, churches, hospitals and social service providers.  We have a balanced economy, although it is clear that consumption has increased and is driving demand for high-end housing. 

We also provide our current residents with better access to job markets than perhaps any community outside of downtown.  We have 9 bus lines in the neighborhood with direct connections to downtown, University Circle and the airport.  That is meaningful for residents of all incomes.

 
ANITA CHATTERJEE
on Nov 19, 2013

My boyfriend David and I own a house in Ohio City and David co-founded the local nonprofit The Refugee Response that started the Ohio City Farm.  As Gretchen pointed out below with the displacement of the refugee families from the Guresnsey building, we also are concerened about maintaining the diversity that brought us to this neighborhood in the first place and quite honestly will be what would keep us here in the future.  I appreciate neighborhood leaders' pledge to keep affordable housing scattered throughout the community and balance business growth so that is accessible for all, but I am curious about the details of how this is specifically being integrated into current development plans.  It is diffdicult for us to see equitable access being a priority when everything around us is being bought up and converted into 'market rate' housing or businesses that 39% of the neighborhood cannot afford to enjoy.  It is understandable that some displacment has to occur with economic upturn, but it should not be of people who live and work in the neighborhood and are part of the momentum behind the success.

 

 
Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 19, 2013

Anita - 

There was recently a debate about whether gentrification could actually occur in a place like Ohio City, since there are still empty houses in some places.  Have you seen people pushed out in your neighborhood?

 
Timothy McCue
on Nov 19, 2013

Very well said Anita!

 
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 and insights. 

First of all I wish to thank you for believing that Ohio City could be a national model for an equitable and integrated neighborhood.  I believe as it stands today, Ohio City IS the model for just such a neighborhood. 

But the question before us is about how best to grow Ohio City and do bars and restaruants take away or actually diminish that growth in an end game scenario. While it may not be an ideal solution, it is a start. When I first moved to Ohio City, i often felt unsafe traversing the neighbhorhood after dark. What bars and restaruants do provide is eyes on the street, making it safer just to be out in your own neighborhood. (And quite frankly, I like my chances better in a bar fight than a mugging). Making Ohio City safer was the first and most crucial baby step in its development process.

So while places to dine and drink, gentrification, or the encouragement of a creative class do not seem to be the answer, according to your post, I am still puzzled as to what exactly is your solution.

Ensuring a certain mix of demographics and diverse businesses? Leveragng reinvestments for all demographics? Who's version of the correct mix of demographics? By what means and by what force? Is there a successful model where this already exists? If there is, I can only assume the leaders of Ohio City would embrace such a model.

While I have not read all the voluminous studies that you cited, I have read Thomas Moore's Utopia, Plato's Republic and Poppers 2 volume classic refutation. And while I agree with the spirit of your post, trying to appease everyone as to what the ideal neighborhood should be like would indeed be exasperating. I know, I have been to the meetings, and it is the diverse opinions and arguments that I relish.  

While Ohio City is lacking what you look for in a developing neighborhood, I will be happy just to walk down the street safely, grab a couple of tasty microbrews and enjoy the diverse historic neighborhood I have chosen to live in. 

 

 
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 - re: the idea that gentrification is not possible with empty houses still in the neighborhood...

Yes we are seeing people pushed out around us by gentrification, namely the refugee population in the Guernsey building across the street from us.  Migration Refugee Services has placed many families in that building because of its affordability and proximity to services.  It has evolved into a supportive refugee community and safe landing place for new immigrants.  Together they have access to others who speak their language, rides to the grocery store, other kids to play with their own and many comforts not easily found when alone in a new country.  This structure has given way to their success here.

A developer recently purchased the bldg and plans to convert it to high-end apartments, making it accessible to only wealthy tenants and kicking out the ones there now.  While Eric and OC, among others, are working to help us keep the refugees in OC, those families will likely soon be separated from the community they have built in the Guernsey.  The refugees are all working and paying tenants but obviously cannot afford luxury rent rates.  One of the reasons we love our home is because we can watch refugee children playing with one another across the street, when just months ago they were living in fear or with limited resources available to them in camps.  Once they are gone our block will lose its diverse vibrancy.

Even if we cannot say OC as a whole is being gentrified due to vacant housing, I think it's clear we are driving lower-income residents out of several pockets of the neighborhood.  I agree small amounts of it are necessary, especially in the business sector.  I don't love that many of the new businesses opening in the Stiebinger Block at the end of our street will cater to somewhat wealthier crowds, but our area is safer and more usable because some of the businesses that previously operated in that building got pushed out. 

If we don't guide our residential development so lower-income residents are protected, we fear gentrification could squeeze other hard working families out of the communities they have worked hard to build.  We should be able to keep affordable and accessible apartments and services scattered throughout our community so people trying to improve their own circumstances and contributing to their neighborhood don't get pushed to a neglected area or pocket of empty homes where they can easily decline or have to leave. 

We are not trying to stop change.  We are worried that people are getting carried away in the rapid momentum of this change and in the process will destroy the attributes that make OC such a desirable community.

We also appreciate and respect the close-knit community that has thrived in our neck of the neighborhood for decades before W 25th turned the corner.  25th may have been key in turning the area around, but that doesn't mean we have to apply the same principles to achieve success on every street around it. 

 

 
Expand This Thread
Andrew Samtoy
From the Moderator: Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 19, 2013 - 7:55 am

First, for our awesome panelists, would you mind introducing yourselves and letting us know whether you think West 25th has been good for Ohio City's community?  

 

Responses(10)

Jack Storey
on Nov 19, 2013

Sure, my name is Jack Storey, I daylight as the entrepreneur-in-residence at Northeast Shores Development Corp, the CDC for the Collinwood neighborhood (home to the Waterloo Arts District). My "free time" is dedicated to a small think tank I founded in 2010 called Saving Cities, which aims to assist innovative economic development initiatives throughout the Midwest region of the US.

As for my thoughts on W. 25th: I think what's happening there is - for the most part - a natural fit that accents the existing assets (Great Lakes Brewing Co., West Side Market). While I can see the argument of not "oversaturating" the neighborhood with taverns and the like, I don't think anyone can deny that it's had a positive economic impact on the surrounding areas. I would clasify my stance as cautiously optimistic.

 
Jamar Doyle
on Nov 19, 2013

Hi I'm Jamar Doyle and I'm the Assistant Director at the St. Clair Superior Development Corporation, the CDC that covers neighborhoods just east of Downtown including AsiaTown, St. Clair, and the Shoreway Industrial District. As we work to bring artists and developments to our community through projects like Upcycle St. Clair and the Cleveland Flea, we are aware of the tension created between residents and businesses, particularly over the issues of parking, noise and trash.  Our organization was founded through the merger of two organizations, the St. Clair Merchants Association and the St. Clair Neighborhood Association, so we've had to bring residents and business owners together in efforts to talk through these issues, and that communication is key to development that's positive and lasting to a community.

With regards to Ohio City, I think they have done an amazing job of creating balance between the concerns of residents and businesses.   Using the West Side Market and Great Lakes Brewery as anchors, the neighborhood was in a position to leverage these assets to create a unique culinary and brewery district that is attractive to visitors and residents alike, as evident in the demand for housing in the area, including new construction. Very few Cleveland neighborhoods have demand for market rate housing that necessitates new construction, and this is possible in Ohio City because of the neighborhoods appealing mix of historic homes, neighborhood businesses, and entertainment options.  I absolutely believe these interest can coexists if residents and business owners communicate with each other their concerns and remain committed to actions that benefit the community as a whole.

 

 
Lola Garcia Prignitz
on Nov 19, 2013

Sorry to be late joining the discussion! My name is Lola; I'm a lawyer downtown and gave been living in Ohio City since we bought our house near West 44th in 2011.  We just started our family here in September with the birth of out daughter. im also on the board of Ohio City, inc., though I am only here speaking as an individual on not on behalf of the organization.

 
Lola Garcia Prignitz
on Nov 19, 2013

I certainly think the development on West 25th has been a boon to the neighborhood.  Though initially focused I bars and restaurants we are seeing an increased variety of businesses on the West 25th strip and beyond up Lorain, Detroit and Hingetown. With continued focus and mindful development strategies will ensure that west 25th can continue to be a catalyst for creating a diverse, interesting and livable neighborhood. 

 
Andrew Samtoy
on Nov 19, 2013

Jack and Lola - I understand that it has been an economic boon, but what about the community?  Has it benefitted from this economic boon?  

 
Gretchen Snediker
on Nov 19, 2013

My husband and I have lived in Ohio City for nearly eight years.  We've benefitted from the economic boom in that we made money on the sale of our first Ohio City home which five years ago was under water.  We're currently renovating our second home and plan to be in Ohio City for many years.  Although to some extent, we're part of the "problem" in that we're stereotypical gentrifiers, I'm concerned that Ohio City will become out of reach for many.  We were attracted to the neighborhood for it's inclusivity and diversity and I'm afraid we're going to lose that.  The latest development is the sale of the Guernsey building on Franklin.  Currently it's home to a large populuation of southeast Asian refugees.  With the sale of the building, I understand it's being converted to "high end apartments."  This concerns me - what will become of the refugees?  I'm glad to know Ohio City Inc. has the same concerns and I think we're lucky to have such an engaged and thoughtful community partner.

 
Jack Storey
on Nov 19, 2013

There will always be displacement, no matter how thoughtful the delvelopment. It's an unfortunate truth of economics. However, I think identifying the factors that lead to that displacement in a certain area can help mitigate it, and I know that OHC, INC has been vigiliant on that front. I'm sure Eric W. can speak to this far better than I. 

It's also important to remember that a positive external perception weighs on the internal perceptions of the residents, and OHC and W.25th are a great example of that being a reality. When someone hears that other people think their neighborhood is unsafe or boring or dead; that hurts the morale of everyone. And while it's a purely qualitative factor, I've seen the side effects of it firsthand here in Collinwood.

I maintain that, with a watchful eye, the kind of development that's happening on W.25th is beneficial to the economy, which should benefit the residents in a wide array of ways.

 
Edward Sotelo
on Nov 19, 2013

Hello, everyone.  My name is Edward Ángel Sotelo, and to tell you the truth, I don't know how this interface quite works, but I'm willing to give it a shot in order to toss you my .02 cents.

I grew up just 'round the bend from West 25th -- the Clark-Fulton neighborhood, to be exact -- so as a lifelong Clevelander, I think I'm allowed to be grumpy about the fancy-schmancy places that have opened up on West 25th.But I have actually enjoyed the good food and the good beers and the good fun on that strip. It's nice to roll out there at night and not get jumped (well, if you're not careful). When I was young, we weren't exactly encouraged to head out there.  In fact, I used to wait for the 79X right there where the big urban stonehenge used to be (my family and I were there when they had the big public decoration ceremony). I didn't like waiting for the bus there.And I'm sure some of the folks who don't qualify as white/college-educated/urban pioneers/professionals don't mind getting some gigs at these restaurants; they probably don't mind the cops on patrol and the well-lit streets. But they, at some point, are wondering where the hell they're going to end up when they're priced out.  I sure wish we could get some of those people on this forum, in fact.Maybe someone should ask the hierarchs at St Ignatius how they dealt with neighborhood issues when they had their massive expansion, maybe about a decade (?) ago.  Perhaps those Jesuits have some insights that could help with this issue.

 
Daniel Brown
on Nov 19, 2013

Hello All!

My name is Daniel Brown, I work on W. 25th and have been watching the street change for about a decade now. I graduated from Ignatius in 2007 and spent most of my days after school wondering around Ohio City and falling in love with Cleveland. The Ohio City I wondered around in the mid 2000's is very different than it is today and that is not nessisarally a bad thing but it is unquestionably true, as we all can agree I suspect. 

As someone very interested in equity, in justice, and in sustainability I worry about the long term sustainability of W. 25th. How much of the development taking place is simply riding new waves of trends and fads? How much community benefit do gastro-pubs and micro-breweries serve the greater community? I don't have answers, I am a student of the city but through conversations I continue to learn and evolve and wrestle with my beliefs and opinions. 

The one thing I think we all fundimentally need to reconsider though is what 'economic development' as a term means. Is that what drives community? Is it what should drive community? If not, what should? Where are our priorities as a city and how best can we support those who support eachother? 

 
Lola Garcia Prignitz
on Nov 19, 2013

I do think the community has benefitted from the economic boon. Eric's excellent summary provides some highlights:

My husband and I discovered Ohio City thanks to the bars and restaurants.  When it came time to buy a house we looked from West 25th street outward. Attracting the, for lack of a better ter, yupsteer class, starts here.

i also think the West 25th street development has helped to provide community. One need look no further than the jerseys of our Near West Rec tball and coach pitch teams to see how the development on West 25th can be leveraged into family friendly programming that retains that yupster class when they graduate out of the bar hopping years.

That critical mass of of formerly bar hopping yupsters also provides the basis for additional development and activity that leads to things like recruiting the Near West Intergenerational School, which leads to more quality school options in the neighborhood,  which in turn helps the neighborhood to continue to retain middle income and wealthier residents out also provides benefits to other populations of the neighborhood. 

 
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