A Quick Little Post, About Cleveland, Community and Economic Development, My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Once Again We’re Number One! The Most Stressed Out City In America.

It seems this fair city on Lake Erie has made another list we can’t be proud of. I caught this headline on my Google News feed earlier today that Cleveland is number one as the most stressed out city in the United States. It even became a topic at the monthly neighborhood watch meeting I attended this evening.

Just glancing at the piece, I kind of wonder how the folks at Wallethub get this data. Wouldn’t driving in Los Angeles, or even the Beltway in Washington DC, be more stressful than driving I-271? Cleveland has already been ranked the poorest big city in the States and I doubt the divorce rate is pandemic driven. However, as I glance through the article most of everything else is. Does the fact that we have two nationally renown hospital systems located here? That certainly means a lot essential workers running on little sleep. You really cannot work from home if you are in an ER unit at the Cleveland Clinic. I wonder what people behind that City of New York tweet a few weeks back thinks of all this.

Pretty soon Cleveland will be getting $515 million dollars in Federal money. I wonder if City Hall can get its’ act together for once in coming up with how to use this to improve safety and other public services for the city residents outside of downtown. That would make things, shall we say, a tad less stressful?

A Quick Little Post, About Cleveland, Uncategorized

A Sunny Day In Cleveland, A Quick Little Post.

It was a sunny, and hot and humid, day today in Cleveland with the high being ninety degrees, still a bit cooler than Portland and Seattle shockingly had endured last week but typical of a summer day in New York City.

When I first saw on my cell phone a piece on my news feed regarding New York City’s insult to Cleveland I just glanced at it and moved on. However, if the folks at CNN, of all people, think it’s worthy of a post maybe I should jump on the bandwagon with a comment (if not a Tweet). Call it much ado about nothing, or free unintentional publicity for Global Cleveland, this might just as well give this city a little more positive attention than it recently received.

Cleveland admittedly has its issues, even on a sunny day which in fact we have many of here, but our days as a “Mistake on the Lake” are decades over (even with Dennis Kusinich throwing his hat in the upcoming mayor’s race). One can even argue that a much older slogan, “Best Location in the Nation” is far more appropriate these days. The fact it is a port on the St. Lawrence Seaway that’s two hours by car from Pittsburgh, six hours from Washington DC and yes not that further to the Big Apple, has not only made it easy for locals to move out but for some entrepreneurs (like Dan Gilbert) to move in. If Amtrak ever gets that money to expand services, Cleveland’s location will make it even more attractive. So, if New Yorkers suddenly find it easier to work from new homes in Sanford Connecticut, I don’t see that much more a difference if these same people worked in Cleveland Ohio.

What I still want to find out is why, up in Canada, Cleveland was the subject of a good and well written article way beyond a tweet about our weather (after all, Cleveland and Toronto’s weather are pretty much the same except for recording theirs in Celsius). I always said there is something here worthwhile beyond the Innerbelt Freeway and our neighborhoods have incredible potential if we can get some real leadership inside City Hall.

Within a week or less, this social media storm about this will evaporate. However, this New York tweet might be a good jolt to turn on the spotlight on what Cleveland actually has done well for a change.

A Quick Little Post, My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Happy Fourth of July!

As fireworks and firecrackers go off all around me as a I type this in my little office, I can’t believe how fast this year has gone. Things seem a lot better this July than last year’s to be sure.

As for me, I decided spend my morning hiking in the woods for over an hour as bicyclists sped around me. Tomorrow and Tuesday the heat will be returning to the North Coast and it was good to get a workout in. It’s funny not being in a parade like I always seemed to be in a decade ago but to be honest I don’t miss it. As for ideas for the blog, there are always ideas it’s just a matter of finding the time. To be honest I’m surprised I have been able to post as many this year as I have. However, so far this month, the blog has received 9 views and June saw 108 views which for something like this is pretty good. It’s all a matter of putting on interesting content.

So, Happy Fourth of July from Mad Man on a Great Lake.

About Cleveland, Community and Economic Development, My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Sweet Bean at the La Salle.

The photograph says it all.

For those who have followed the blog, you would recall there was a post a few years back about a new store opening up at the corner of Kildeer and East 185th St. Well, the Humphrey store closed early in the pandemic when everything was in lock down along with the other stores that were starting to open at the La Salle Theater. You kind of wonder if anything would be made of the place. Of course, as last week’s open house showed, things haven’t been as dark as they could be. In fact, it prompted me to visit the establishment that has, since February, called the corner store its’ home.

Shelves displaying other local products.
A view of the workspace behind the counter.

Sweet Bean is a local high end chocolate enterprise now, believe it or not, occupying the space the Humphrey pop corn balls left behind. This shop does not have your regular Hershey Bar. Along with rows of home-made bon bons in an array of flavors (and colors) there were small bags of marshmallows, caramels, candy bars and chocolate covered jelly beans, all made there at the store.

An assortment of bon bons.
An array of purchases.

I did manage to chat with the owner, Kristin Barnes, a very energetic young lady who started her company with her husband in 2014. Even before opening her shop at the La Salle, she has received some positive local media coverage such as from Scene Magazine in 2017. While business is slowing down since it’s summertime, it was quite busy according to her around Valentine’s Day, Easter, and pretty much the same business cycle as the folks at Malley’s would tell you. She has done a lot of wholesale business and there is a strong demand for her product. In other words, unless there is another pandemic on the horizon, Sweet Bean looks like it’s here to stay. You can look at their website for further information.

It is almost too pretty to eat.

Photographs by James Valentino.

About Cleveland, Community and Economic Development, Uncategorized

An Open House at the LaSalle Theater.

If you have followed the blog, you would know that I have written pieces on the East 185th St. area of Cleveland which I happen to call home. Not just a busy schedule, but definitely this pandemic, has prevented me from writing more than I would like. However, here is something new.

On Sunday, June 13, 2021, there was an open house at the La Salle Theater (now officially known as the La Salle Arts and Media Center) on East 185th St. What really was notable about the event that this was the first real community event to take place in person since the pandemic. Not only was the Councilman, Michael D. Polensek, there but also members of the Greater Collinwood Development Corporation, the Collingwood-Nottingham Village Historical Society, a representative from Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, and many area residents like myself. I also got to chat a little with Lauren Celevich who is the venue manager for the facility. She said that with the new parking lot and the existing lot behind the Federated Auto Parts Building across the street on Kildeer, they have spots for 200 vehicles. I was also shown a flier listing the many upcoming events that will be happening there.

if this historic street is ever to turn around something had to be done with this landmark. Despite all the challenges we’ve faced over the past few years, scenes like what I witnessed on Sunday afternoon are very encouraging. We will see what happens next.

Photographs by James Valentino

About Cleveland, Community and Economic Development, My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Is There The Possibility that St. Vincent Charity Hospital is finally going to do something with the old Juvenile Court?

Apparently the Campus District, the local Development Corporation couldn’t do anything with it and, while it is a designated Historical Landmark, it is also obsolete.I cannot believe it will be ten years in September since the place where I work, the Juvenile Court of Cuyahoga County, moved into its’ then brand new building on the corner of East 93rd and Quincey (called by some in the press the ‘Taj Mahal’). I always felt that the old facility, built in 1931 originally for one Judge but by the time I was there housed six, would make a great campus for something; let’s say a nurses’ college or home for a non-profit The fact is that for over a decade it has been essentially abandoned. Apparently the Campus District, the local Development Corporation, couldn’t do anything with it. They claim that the place is functionally obsolete with no parking and has asbestos which to remove would cost $1 million. Considering all the money spent to clean up the site the present court is located on, one can argue that the latter would be a well worth investment that the County should consider.

As for me, I always felt the the logical organization to get the buildings would be St. Vincent Charity Hospitals which is located next door. I remember many times when still down there many of my coworkers and I walking there at lunch to dine in their cafeteria. The relationship between the court and the hospital was always very good.

In fact, it was while I was sitting around Wednesday for Jury Duty that I came across this article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on the announcement by St. Vincent’s that it will create a new health campus. The Sisters of Charity have already hired MASS Design Group of Boston to develop plans and meed with local leaders and residents for their input. This is pretty much standard procedure when it comes of community based development projects. The article doesn’t mention who are other local stakeholders involved but they apparently control about 17 acres in the Central Neighborhood.

It would be crazy if Cuyahoga County isn’t involved. However, with all the money being spent on the Hilton and the Global Center for Health Innovation downtown, putting a little attention on this complex wouldn’t be ludicrous. As of this week, the odds of that happening seemed to be a lot greater.

A Quick Little Post, Community and Economic Development, My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

If You Can’t Beat Them Just Leave? A Quick Little Post.

This article I saw in the Washington Post this week about an Atlanta neighborhood wanting to secede from that city due to crime interested me. It’s sometimes good to see what is going on in other cities facing similar problems, and the extreme measures some residents would take to address them. Not only that, the article is very well written. Of course usually people just pack up and leave for the suburbs, not secede and create their own. However, the upsurge in crime, and not just thefts and burglaries, is hitting all major cities and Cleveland has had its’ share for the last three years at least (so you can’t blame it on Joe Biden and company, but I digress). How can you turn a city around so that people could move into neighborhoods when they don’t feel safe. That’s one of the main why Cleveland’s population is still declining. To think that Cleveland had almost a million people within its’ city limits at one time.

If I have the time, I will come up with more than a quick little post sometime real soon.

About Cleveland, Community and Economic Development, My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Looking South…to the North Coast.

The view of Lake Erie from Dorchester Road in North Collinwood looking north.

In light of the things I’ve read previously for my last post, when I came across this article in the Globe and Mail by Bob Carrick it was just too funny. Titled How far would you go to find an affordable home? To Cleveland?, he writes about this couple who wound up buying a house here south of Lake Erie of all places. Apparently, the average price of a home here on the North Coast is like what one in places like Toronto sold for in 1981, or currently three to nine times less than they do up there.  It’s kind of ironic to read in a Canadian paper something which we could only dream of getting here in the states in regards to free publicity. Of course when he writes about ‘Cleveland’ I would have thought that it’s the metro area at large rather than the inner city. However, when I clicked on a hyperlink it led me to a map of the city and median price in each neighborhood. No Rocky River, Avon, Mentor, Hudson, or even Lakewood is mentioned which are exactly places where people here the states would first look at if they ever relocated here; unless they are really adventurous (and most likely don’t have children) and then they’d look at downtown or the Near West Side.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is Cleveland, Ohio, Dorchester looking West towards East Park.

After all, as they say, who in their right mind would like to live in the hood?  Of course, I’m being sarcastic but I’ve heard that from more than one person around here over the years.  In fact, while there are many reasons why people of all races, age groups, and income levels, have left the city (and the metropolitan area as well) there is so much potential around here if the powers that be only stop looking at downtown as their focus. It’s important for the movers and shakers to think out of the box.

If places like Cleveland, and Buffalo New York for that matter, are marketable to Canadians looking for a single house of their own, I think that’s wonderful.  Of course, with a  closed border, and since 911 the need to have a passport to cross over, the odds of that really happening look slim.   However, if Amtrak goes through its’ new high speed rail proposals and the Feds make going over the Peace Bridge like it was again 1999, Buffalo and Rochester may be the ideal places for those willing to make the commute…or take an hour flight from Cleveland for that matter.

If we had effective leadership at City Hall, this could have been a real opportunity for us.

Photographs by James Valentino.

A Quick Little Post, About Cleveland, Community and Economic Development, My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Looking For a Place of Their Own: a Quick Little Post.

This week, as I looked through the Google News Feed on a lunch break at the job, I saw this interesting piece from Bloomberg about what’s happening north of the border. Canada may be the second largest nation in the world by landmass but, due to basic geography and where all the jobs are, it’s getting increasingly difficult for would be homeowners to achieve the dream of a house on a plot of land. Just like everywhere else, people would like to have a pretty short commute from where they live to where they work, and in hot markets like Toronto and Montreal, high density real estate projects featuring apartments and condos have been the norm for decades (or so it seems to an outsider like me). In the above article they write about this couple in Montreal finally getting their own home, an hour away from the city. The real estate dynamic up there is so utterly different from what many inner cities south of the Great Lakes are dealing with.

Meanwhile, and what a contrast, Cleveland.com had a piece about all the available lots one can buy within the city of Cleveland featuring an interactive map. This is nothing new. I remember seeing a similar map on a wall located in the basement of the old College of Urban Affairs building at Cleveland State when I was Graduate Student and the only thing I really noticed is how much the number of empty lots has grown over the last two decades. One again, half of North Collinwood is cut off from the picture but you still get the gist of the situation in the Northeast corner of this city. I king of wonder what Canadian city planners would think if their cities had a similar amount of vacant parcels with all that pent up demand up there? Of course, it would be very interesting to find out how the crime rate, especially homicides, are in Toronto since I think that’s one of the many reasons why the city of Cleveland has continued to lose population (at 385,282 in 2019, it still is bigger than Pittsburgh). Nevertheless, Cleveland, and many other US cities, have an asset that Canadian developers might envy.

It would be interesting to see what Cleveland City Hall (and whoever becomes mayor) will do with the roughly $541 million dollars from the Covid relief bill. Of course, my thoughts about that can be the source of another post for this blog.

A Quick Little Post, About Cleveland, My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Lakeview Cemetery’s Nature Walk.

The sign at the entrance to the walk.

It’s funny how, after being familiar with a place for years that you stumble upon something that you never saw before. Yesterday, being a beautiful day and not too keen to be with a bunch of people congregating of the grassy field that’s in fact the Severance Hall Parking garage roof, I wound up driving down Euclid Avenue to Lakeview Cemetery. While stopping at the Wade Chapel, I decided to walk around a pond on the north side of the road (without the fountain and fake swans) and it was there I stumble on what the signed said was the Nature Walk. Running along the East and South shore of the pond I felt like I was lost in the woods somewhere. It helped that I saw a blue heron take flight overhead.

A view of Dugway Brook.
The north shore of the pond.

While it’s not like a trail at the Holden Arboretum, nevertheless, its’ very existence at a cemetery minutes from University Circle is surprising. As you cross the bridge over Dugway Brook, you would believe you were out in Lake County rather than at Lakeview Cemetery. There is room for some improvement, the trail was still very muddy in parts while one can see someone donate some trilliums to be planted in spots. Nevertheless, it was a pleasant little discovery.

The Nature Walk heading south.