A Quick Little Post, About Cleveland, Opinion, Uncategorized

Northeast Shores’ Membership Meeting; A Quick Little Post.

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The NE Shores Development Corp. Meeting at Euclid Beach.

I truly believe that to have a successful city, you must have strong neighborhoods.  One of the signs of this is to have a good network of local development corporations that work with the community.  The Collinwood area happens to have two of them; the one representing North Shore Collinwood being the Northeast Shores Development Corporation.  This has been around for decades and I remember stopping in their offices in the 90’s when they were actually housed in a building next to Euclid General Hospital. Board members, and executive directors, come and go but I’ve been a fairly loyal member.  However, Wednesday’s Quarterly Membership meeting was the first I’ve been to in a year.  Instead of at the Collinwood Rec Center, they decided to put it across the street at Euclid Beach Park.  That’s where I went a little before 6:00 to the pavilion to see what was going on.

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Mary Louise Daily speaks with Scott standing next to her.  New Executive Director Camille M. Maxwell sits to his left.

I knew some of the people already, such as Councilman Michael Polensek’s aide Mary Louise Daley, but the vast majority were new faces. Even the new Board president, a guy named Scott, I never met before.  However, I wound up staying there for over an hour and a half, and not just because of the hot dogs.  They just appointed a new Director and I got to chat with some of the staff for the first time in years.  None lives in the neighborhood.  However, one young lady did just buy a house in Old Brooklyn which at least is in the city.  As for the business development specialist, he lives in the same area of Cleveland Heights where my mother grew up.  As for the new director, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt.

Actually, a lot of positive things are still taking place here.  Work is still going on regarding the new Euclid Beach Pier.  As for the La Salle Theater on East 185th Street, they are in the process of getting more funding for the renovation project there.  Also, we’re going to get one of the big white Cleveland signs like the one that everyone has been taking photos with at Edgewater Park.  Considering the terrible events last month at Mr. Car, this meeting put things all back into perspective.  While my neighborhood is not one of those targeted in that new Cleveland State Univeristy study commissioned by Mayor Jackson for investment, it still on the cusp of becoming one happening place.  Chatting with some of the people there, I met a lady who moved here from Shaker.  She told me that a realtor told her that the area where she moved to was getting a lot of money coming in renovating those lakefront properties.  Also, like many of the other former Heights’ residents who moved into North Shore Collinwood over the past few decades, she loves the lower taxes from what she was formerly paying.

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I hope the Corporation starts renovating their new offices on East 185th St. soon so they can move back there.  I also will try to attend more meetings to see what is going on.

 

Photographs by James Valentino

 

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About Cleveland, Opinion, Uncategorized

Back to a Brown Bag Lunch.

 

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The Brown Bag Lunch.

The song “Spinning Wheels” by Blood, Sweat, and Tears seems appropriate for today as I drove downtown from the job Wednesday afternoon to stop in at my alma mater, The Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University.  This is one of the varieties of programs that my old college has to fill the large building at the corner of East 17th Street and Euclid Avenue.

Moderated by Charles (Chip) Bromley, Director of the Ohio Fair Lending Coalition, it featured former Country Treasurer (now Director of the Thriving Communities Institute) James Rokakis and Cleveland Neighborhood Progress Inc.’s Erika Anthony.  To a packed room, they discussed how organizations such as theirs play a role in pivoting new housing and investment into rehabilitating housing.

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Erika Anthony (left) and James Rokakis (center) at the Brown Bag Lunch.

The audience consisted of students, planners, and even two professors from when I was there as a student. Ms. Anthony, herself a graduate of the College, talked about how she’s now teaching a class there.  As for the Ohio Fair Lending Coalition, it is a collaboration of fair lending organizations throughout Ohio and part of Organize! Ohio which is a community organizing group.

James Rokakis delivered one of his speeches on the impact County Land Banks have had not only in Cuyahoga County but throughout Ohio.  Roughly half of the state’s 88 counties have one.  Since 2008, the Land Bank Bill has been tweaked six times.

However, demolishing vacant buildings isn’t just an inner city phenomenon.  “Blight is everywhere,” Mr. Rokakis told the audience and gave examples of small cities and towns throughout Ohio with downtowns as virtual ghost towns.  The loss of local government funds has paralyzed communities such as Portsmouth and Elyria Ohio for that matter.  He also added that Dan Gilbert’s Office was very helpful with getting the demolition fund money.

“People ask me ‘What are you going to do with all the vacant lots in Ohio?” Mr. Rokakis admitted, “ I have no idea.”  However, at least in Cleveland some things such as infill housing, urban agriculture, and adjacent homeowners buying the vacant lots to add to their own yards is quite common.  Warren Ohio had a plan to create wildflower gardens on their vacant properties.  While studies show that these demolitions helped stabilize the property values of surrounding houses, many of the buildings that wind up in the Cuyahoga County Land Bank are structurally sound and, with some work, can be put back on the market.

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Charles Bromley checks out the audience.

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Cleveland Ward 12 Councilman Anthony Brancatelli listens during the Q&A session.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Erika Anthony, the goal of Cleveland Neighborhood Progress Inc. (also known as CNP), is not so much to tear down but to rehabilitate houses and getting people to move in them.  As CNP’s Executive Summary states, “We estimate that 1,081 programmatic rehabs completed between 2009 and 2015 in Cuyahoga County preserved or increased just over half a million dollars_$539,318,3018_in its values of surrounding houses.”  This is not an insignificant amount of money and this, combined with the work by the Land Banks, certainly stabilized the property values of many neighborhoods.

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Map of Cuyahoga County showing sub-markets and location of rehabilitated properties.

As for how all this impacts North Shore Collinwood, it’s hard to say.  As of this writing, I’m still waiting for Ms. Anthony to get back with me with data on this.  However, according to the map, the further West you go, the more stressed the submarkets’ become.  Admittedly, on the East Side of Cleveland there are no truly higher functioning ownership areas.  However, the submarket with East 185th St. (and where I happen to live) is in the Moderately Functioning Ownership category with 10-11 rehabs taken place there.  In this category, the average impact per rehab is $501,651.  It’s really hard to tell how this translates into neighborhood property values but the average median price has not only stabilized but we up again a little since the mortgage meltdown of almost a decade ago.  On the other hand, it is still a far cry from what houses off East 185th St.  were fetching in 1997.

One felt there that the speakers as well as many in the audience were all trying to squeeze blood from the proverbial stone when it comes to finding the funds not just for home rehabing but other programs as well.   The elimination of the local municipal fund by the Kasich Administration was a major blow to city planning and housing departments and the proposed cut to HUD’s budget trickles down into less money from the Federal Government as well.

It will be interesting to note how the housing market and the money available for home and land bank programs will fare in the next few years.  In the meantime, there will be more Brown Bag lunches.

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