Is the photo taken above that of a ghost town? No, this is the area of East. 185 St. towards Lake Shore Boulevard. I took this and the two other photos last month to show how desolate this stretch of a major commercial street has become. A large part of it is due to the problems the cities of Cleveland and Euclid had in trying to take over the former properties of Jack Shaw Chevrolet which straddle both sides of East 185th St. This was once an important anchor on this street which, unfortunately, went out of business more than six years ago, the property being bid by various owners and falling behind on their taxes. One group, who bought a property on the Cleveland (West) side of the street, at a Sheriff’s auction, subsequently didn’t follow through with the money so it reverted to the Cuyahoga County Land Bank. That was a good thing for us since this, along with the other parts of the puzzle, can now be put on the track for redevelopment.
Of course, what is taking place at the Jack Shaw Chevrolet site is just part of a bigger picture. After all, East 185 St. is one and a half miles long and, in it’s Northern part, straddles two cities. It has easy access off of Interstate 90 and RTA has two bus routes use the street so it remains a major artery for this side of town. Yet, for all those driving north to the Hospice of the Western Reserve or to get to Lake Shore Boulevard, the empty storefronts aren’t much noticed.
“We have to be brutally frank about what we can get to this street,” Councilman Polensek told me over the phone last week, “Our competitors are not Detroit-Shoreway or Ohio City but Euclid and Lake County.” Many of the former businesses have pulled up stakes and moved out to Lake County, and, with even shopping malls struggling, it would be a pipe dream to think the street will be once again like it was in 1950.
However, he does believe that positive things will be going on this year for this once important commercial corridor.
“We have more banks than 3-4 wards put together” referring to the ones that are located in the southern half of the corridor. The La Salle Theater, located at the corner of Kildeer and East 185 St., is in the process of being renovated by Northeast Shores Development Corporation, the local neigbhborhood development corporation for North Shore Collinwood, but there is a funding gap of $481,353. Nearby, the new Oliver Hazard Perry School (to replace the existing structure) is a big deal, and has an impact on the residential neighborhood surrounding East. 185th. Finally, developer Peter Ruben of the Coral Group (which renovated Shaker Sq.) is looking into the area as a paid consultant for the development corporation’s planning analysis of the street.
The biggest challenge is getting property owners and businesses engaged. In regards to the street’s stakeholders Councilman Polensek added that, “outside of VASJ High School and the Hospice, it goes downhill from there. The hospitals (Euclid Hospital and the University Hospitals Euclid Health Center on the NE corner of East 185th and Lake Shore Blvd.) aren’t involved.”
Despite the challenges, it would be very interesting to see what will happen in the next few years with Jack Shaw and the rest of the street. Perhaps, by that time these photographs will be joined with more showing something new.