WALK IS DEPRESSING IN DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND

Submitted by Roldo on Thu, 05/21/2009 - 15:08.

I ventured downtown Monday and was shocked by what I saw. Or what I didn’t see. Cleveland – a virtual ghost city. At 11 a.m. At a crossroads of downtown at East 9th Street and Euclid Avenue.

 
Scary empty.
 
I took the new so-called Health Line down Euclid from University Hospitals. First venture on it. The machines used for purchasing tickets are very confusing. I finally solved it with the help of a woman who was awaiting the bus. Then I learned you could make the ticket purchase on the bus. Confusing to a first-timer.
 
It took about 17 to 18 minutes to ride from Euclid at University Hospitals to East 9th Street. I think it was a minute to three less time than it used to take. Not exactly a great time-saver for some $200 million. Time saving was one reason RTA cited for doing the project.
 
I was most disturbed getting off to a nearly empty Euclid & E. 9th Street. Where are the people? I said to myself. For years I had been a walker in the downtown area. My foot travels moved a friend to joke about my “aimless walking around.” Actually, I met people who gave me information they never would without a face-to-face encounter.
 
I continued my walk to CSU. I passed empty and boarded retail spots up the street on the south side from E. 9th almost to the Halle’s building from East 9th where the County-bought property stands vacant as it has for years.
 
I stopped in the Halle’s building. Shocking. All the retail within the building is gone except for a place to get the newspaper, cigarettes and some sundries. The city invested millions of dollars in this building. For what? Empty seats placed in retail outlets that once held businesses.
 
I had lunch with Norm Krumholz, picking him up at CSU’s Urban Studies office. I mentioned the dismal state of downtown. “It’s your fault,” he said not really meaning it. I knew he meant I had opposed every project in the downtown area.  “What are you talking about, everything I opposed was done. How could it be my fault,” I countered.
 
I later continued my personal survey walk. A most depressing experience.
 
The Arcade - a building bestowed with tens of millions of public dollars to entice a Hyatt Regency hotel – is depressing. The Arcade remains a beauty but deadly absent of commerce. More than $10 million in tax incentives poured into the structure. Soon after, owners sought to lower the value of their property, thus the taxes.
 
The Arcade, which runs between Euclid and Superior avenues, should be Cleveland’s most enticing visit. Actually, it still is despite its economic failure.
 
The first floor from the Euclid entrance was nearly clean of retail business. It had been a more active, though not upscale, retail spot before the subsidies. Scores of people ate their lunches, some bought there, at tables overlooking the first floor below. Now mock store windows line the path from Euclid to Superior Ave. They are disguised as real businesses.
 
These former retail outlets had umbrellas opened in the windows to hide the fact that they are empty. Hiding despair with colorful umbrellas. Below, on the first floor from Superior Ave. the elegant setting looks more like a food court than anything else. Empty retail spots there, too.
 
“The Arcade is an internationally renowned structure bringing together the economic, technological, and aesthetic developments of the 1880s. It has no peer in the U. S. and has been compared with the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele in Milan, Italy,” says the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Those are bragging rights.
 
The Arcade’s status now scoffs at that tradition and beauty. Shame!
 
Empty locations at the Chesterfield apartment’s street retail on E. 12th Street, north of the Union Club. Same with the Galleria at E. 9th Street and St. Clair. The Colonial Arcade, built in 1898, across from The Arcade, on the south side of Euclid also depresses. It has activity at noon with fast food outlets but the attached arcade to the west appears totally underused.
 
All signs of a depressed city and downtown. They have been gutted by suburban shopping centers now also suffering too much retail.
 
No wonder the streets are not bustling. Job losses have made their impact too. Thousands of jobs have been lost downtown.
 
I was especially interested in this personal monitoring after Sunday’s story in the PD about the great developments at E. 4th Street. I don’t doubt the positive aspects of new restaurants and housing there by MRN. I admire Ira Maron’s inventive efforts. However, they are limited and predatory, pulling retail from elsewhere.
 
Decline and desperation are just a stone’s throw away.
 
In Sunday’s story, Mayor Frank Jackson’s economic aide Chris Warren noted that the city invested about $10 million in infrastructure, loans and tax credits at E. 4th. Actually, a lot more public welfare has gone into the E. 4th development The city legislated a $9.2 million bond issue with added costs of several millions of dollars in interest, all supported by a TIF. The TIF diverted property taxes from Cleveland schools, the city, and the county and city libraries. Cleveland also gave a $1.5 million subsidy.
 
It’s even more depressing when one considers the immense infusion of public money downtown since the late 1980s. Hundreds of millions of dollars flowed at Gateway to Playhouse Square; $200-million plus RTA transit investment along Euclid; grants to the Halle’s building; to the Wolstein-built office building on Huron Road; and the very expensive public investment and tax abatement at the Wyndham Hotel; purchase of Dick Jacobs’ long abandoned E.9th & Euclid to Prospect properties by Cuyahoga County; public dollars to John Carney at the Colonial Arcades; huge investments and tax abatements at Tower City and at Jacobs’ Key Center and Marriott Hotel; the $92-million Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; and the $300-million plus Browns Stadium; and many, many more public expenditures.
 
Now, there will be another stab via the so-called Medical Mart and Convention Center. There goes another billion dollars of welfare subsidies to a private business to try to infuse new economic activity downtown. Futile.
 
All for what? A depressed and depressing downtown. The price hasn’t matched the expectations.  
 
Yet we continue on the same road.
 
What is the answer? Private development done naturally to meet needs. You can’t force people to be where they don’t want to be, to do what they don’t want to do.
 
Activity will come when people – the market – demand it. You can’t force it even with almost free money.
 
A walk around downtown teaches that lesson.
 
 
 
 
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WALK DOWNTOWN WITH JOE ROMAN

Roldo,

You just aren't viewing downtown in a realistic light.  

I know if you walked around downtown Cleveland with Joe Roman, head of Greater Cleveland Partnership, you would see the glass as half full, not half empty - or almost completely empty as it really is.

Joe has been effective boosting Cleveland for about 24 years and he has a salary of about 3 or 400,000.00  so his view will tend towards the cheerful.  That's Cleveland +

Then again, maybe you just need a mood enhancer?  

At least you didn't drive into Downtown Cleveland and get your car windows smashed in like my friend did.

jeff

The chickens come home to roost

What did they think was going to happen?

They have given all the "incentives" to people and entities that don't really need it while their citizenry lives in abject poverty. Just think what our city could look like today if money had gone into schools, community centers and small business. Or how about developing our lokefront for civic access?

We'd be a feature city.

But no, we've handed our coffers over to the moneymakers, with the mistaken belief they would somehow kick that money back down to us? Did we really think that? What I learned in my two graduate courses with Dr. Krumholz was how corrupt this city is, but I don't think that was his intent, at least it wasn't on the syllabi.

Its hard to criticize such a sweet guy as Mr. Krumholz, but I have to say - I chose MPPUD as a master's program because of his work (earlier work). He literally wrote the book on equity planning (Making Equity Planning Work). I was told his teachings were right in line with my ideology and I would love it. And I did, at first, until I heard over and over that it didn't work. Why it didn't work received fleeting mentions (lack of support and funding to ever make a project with four feet on the ground) but all that was quickly followed by numerous dog and pony shows of Cleveland's elite. 

The message was quite clear, to my self and to all the other budding city planners - buck up to the big guys or you (and your ideas) will never get anywhere.

Here's one thing Cleveland can be proud of - we are a glowing example of how trickle down theory does nOt work.

You had my hopes up

dbra,

As the phone lines have been down, I've been out of touch (in more ways than one, I dare say) but dbra, the heading of "the chickens have come home to roost" is misleading because for a minute, I thought you were talking about me for I could easily be headed in your direction.  Right about now, a chicken coop seems a fair den for an ole bittie like me in need of a hiddin' place to hang my bonnet for a day or two.  Just long enough for me to plume tuft while I still have it. 

Word through the hugger-mugger channels is that Chris Garland and Kristen Ciofani have called in "Roostie Nester" to pluck my feathers.  For as usual, I have disobeyed the First Commandment which is thou shalt not open thy mouth while in the presence of the almighty holier than thou Tremont West Do Gooders.  Second,  Thou shalt not commit speak in opposition whether right or wrong against any member of the almighty holier than thou Tremont West Do Gooders.  Third, speaking in disagreement against the almighty holier than thou Tremont West Do Gooders will only get you put on the Sh...t List where ye shall remain for the duration for all other TWDC holier than thou do gooders to practice any and all means of savagery martyrdom they see fit.

I know one thing, if you all see a singed white chick running through the neighborhood, it ain't me.   

   

 

 

you're always welcome

 to come hang out, Jerleen! But i do have to warn you about Getrude. She makes some of those TWDC byotches look lame and tame. I love watching my chikens - they teach me so much anout people...

Thank you so much, I'll

Thank you so much, I'll remember that.  sorry, I just felt like like going off the deep end after hearing about that.  As you can imagine, they had me shakin' in my boots. (them and whose army).  Every time I open my mouth, somebody tries to nail my a.. to the barn door.  I think I'll just start walking up, kissing the door and waitin.'  Maybe I'll find me an old barn door and have somebody paint my backside on the door and sit it out here by the fence with a can of tacks that says "free nails," that way it can be a free-for-all and they can hit it once a day whether I need it or not.

Things have been wild and crazy, sure have missed you.

 

 

 

Mr. Krumholz

  Sat on the

Planning Commission panel

on the day, Gloria Ferris and I went down to protest rezoning of the 2000 Denison NRP project.  He rubberstamped it.

RUBBERSTAMPIN'

That's the new in thing.  If you don't rubber stamp it, they don't want it.  I'm up to my neck  with this "you got to go along to get along"  If I don' like and if it ain't right then it's time for folks to stand up and say "it ain't right" 

Atlanta has changed, and so can Cleveland

So what can Cleveland do to turn itself around?  That was the same question that many citizens in Atlanta were asking thirty years ago.  It breaks down to the issues and the solutions:

Issues:

  • Lack of Vision - Citizens groups, NGO's and local leadership fails to conceptualize a unifying vision of their town
  • Sustainable Business - Local leadership fails to institute of plan of action that calls for symbiotic relationship between big business and the local communities
  • Affluent Flight - This used to be know as "White Flight' but in these politically correct times, I suppose Affluent Flight makes more sense.  Those with money, head for suburban bliss.
  • Ineffective Tax Structure - Self-explanatory
  • Culture Bomb - Local leadership fails to leverage the financial implications of not bringing artist and arts organizations to the table.
  • The Stigma of Crime - Whether real or imagined, the city leadership allows the city and populace to be framed as crime ridden
  • Separatism and homophobia - The collective conscious of the city fails to actively pursue a more equitable playing field for persons of all strata

Solutions:

  • Cognition and Clarity - The city must have a vision, beyond hollow rhetoric, which offers tangible methods of growth, development and proactive change
  • Business enrichment - Using programs like Empowerment Zones and Renewal Communities, as well as other means of attraction, the city can bring to fore new business along with existing business to form a sustainable business friendly environment. This increases the tax base, while also working to solve the problems of classism.
  • Cultural Diversity Gains - By sponsoring city wide events that have a national or international appeal, attracting minority groups, women or those disenfranchised, the city can rebrand itself as being a beacon of hope toward attaining the American Dream.  Bringing more money into the city, this strategy also increases the tax base
  • Safety and Cleanliness - In order to have a clean, safe, beautiful city, citizens must get their hands dirty.  Trees of Atlanta as well as Atlanta's Beltline project are just two of the multitude of citizen empowerment activities involving politicians, business interest and educational institutions.  This combines with an improved working relationship between local police and fire departments can help to give a town a more "livable" image
  • Infatrsucture investment - Under the auspices of Mayor Shirley Franklin, 7 years ago the City of Atlanta successfully allied with the State of Georgia to secure $3,000,000,000 in funding for a complete overhaus of the city's sewer system.  Not only did this make the city healthier, but it also increased the value of holding city bonds.  It was and continue to be a huge win/win situation; a gift that keeps on giving.

Conclusion:

In no way do I make claim of being an authority of these issues.  I know what I see and I have lived long enough to see what will work and what won't.  Once upon a time, within my own lifetime, Atlanta was a crime infested city with a hideous tax base.  That has changed...big time.  You can't  simply throw money at the problem, that won't work.  Citizens, universities, NGO leadership, politicians and business must be deeply engaged and committed for the long haul.

In Atlanta we still have our fair share of problems, but overall I'd have to say that our town has come a very long way.  It's been a ongoing process, with both setbacks and fabulous results.

 

 

Thank You

For this novel perspective. The people of Cleveland are grateful for another thoughtful condemnation of our once-proud city based on the observations of an hour's walk.

When a new generation has succeeded in improving our fortunes, I'm hopeful that you'll be just as generous in your praise then as you are in your reprobation today.

It's not condemnation. It's

It's not condemnation. It's observations of someone who has walked those street for 44 years - from a young man who came by train and walked out of Terminal Tower into a BIG city to work at the Plain Dealer but who learned to see a city leadership lacking in care of its people and now as an old man walks and sees the result of that carelessness.

and its watching over and over and over

 and over and over again as this city's "leaders" draw resources from its largely working poor citizenry and hand it over to its wealthy.

please, tell me one thing the powers that be have done for the residents of this city. meanwhile its residents are preparing to once again dump millions for the rich, with hollow promises of gains trickling down to us.

when will we ever get it? eternity, those are all very nice suggestions, but i think its best to stop blaming the victims of this city. Stop the money drain and put money into the civic programs you mention and we have a fighting chance. The residents of this city are some of the best in the country. faithful and loyal doesn't even begin to describe us. But to blame it on citizen apathy and inaction is disingenuous. And it does nothing to correct a very bad, ongoing situation here.

Atlanta mau have an advantage in that given its history, its populace knows a carpetbagger when they see one.

Carpetbaggers 2

  Atlanta mau have an advantage in that given its history, its populace knows a carpetbagger when they see one.

Mau ? You need to get a new keyboard Dbra :)  But, if it's dialect then O-tay!  You and I are on the same wavelength.  It's okay to vilify anyone different, right, especially if they speak Spanish or have darker skin color?!   These folks need someone to take care of them, right?!

I spoke with some folks today in line for the subsidized senior housing on Denison.  They know carpetbaggers, too.  This mess is going to get a whole lot uglier.  I expect the City will start handing out condemnation notices around here, a la Tremont, to the folks that don't go along with their happy senior/sewerville NRP Phase 1 and Phase 2--investment scheme. 

PS-- Lakewood--look out!...NRP is going to drop some subsidized senior housing on your Madison/Birdtown park...oh the demographics are just right--poor people and a hospital nearby!  And, afterall, the City of Lakewood and Cleveland need to get rid of those park expenses, right?!...and the land is so cheap for developers to pick up!   Who needs green space, recreation,  and W.C. Reed Field anyway, right?!

Let's see--how many times can Joe Cimperman pull-off his social worker routine on folks like Frank Giglio? Tear down the homes of folks who are paid up on their mortgages and taxes, because "they can't take care of themselves" and, because we don't like their idea of landscaping or the color of their house?  Thanks to our gerrymandered ward redistricting, NRP will soon be Joe's little gateway to Brooklyn Centre, unless Joe gets that big toy he has been patiently waiting for...for so long...the commissioner's job. 

Yes, the altarboy has been so good for the City.   Hell, for a few novenas he will throw in St. Barbara's for a gas station and the Steel Valley Credit Union for CVS!  Afterall, the abuelitas need their meds to stay happy.

no its bad eyes

 a web browser that doesn't compat with anything

a computer that doesn't compat with any other web browser

and pure old fashioned failure to proof my posts!

Watch how fast the near west side turns into a brighter shade of white know-it-all