Another delay has occurred in what is supposed to be my next piece for the blog. Life has intervened and the day has been too busy to write much, let alone again try to call up the Atlantic to get a live person. Besides, there was a vigil to go to this evening. At 6:00 P.M. I was one of many people who decided to stop in front of Mr. Tire on East. 185th Street to show their support for the family of the couple shot with their dog on Good Friday last week in what is now considered a pre-meditated planned murder. The indviduals who did this shocking even took more than two cars in the lot and the pursuit to bring them to justice continues. Of course, Councilman Michael D. Polensek (whose ward includes the Cleveland part of East 185th spoke and brought many others to come up and do the same. In the audience not only was State Senator Kenny Yuko there but Councilmen Zack Reed and Jeff Johnson. However, Mayor Frank Jackson was noticeably absent as were many other Cleveland Councilmen. Nevertheless, it was important for neigbhorhood residents to be there, and they were.
As winter returns briefly to Northeast Ohio, I found out today that an article of mine has been published this week in this month’s issue of The Collinwood Observer. It is one of a series of community newspapers serving communities in the Cleveland area (for example there is The Euclid Observer for that city) and has developed a strong local following.
Actually, I began this as a post for this blog but, after talking with the Center for Advanced Mental Health Practice’s Danielle Dronet, and a few others, I decided to submit it to the Observer last month. Here is the link to their site. I appreciate the fact that Investigating Holmes Avenue got published and hope that, in the future, that a few more articles will be published there.
Speaking of links, here is one to a new piece written by Cleveland Magazine regarding North Shore Collinwood, and the need for an ‘angel’ for East 185th Street. I have only glanced at it so far but it seems like it will be a worthwhile read as the snow flies outside covering the spring flowers.
The Northeast Shores Development Corporation’s seventh annual Taste the Neighborhood took place at the Lithuanian Hall on East 185 St. yesterday. Local restaurants and eateries in the North Shore Collinwood Area, such as Gus’ Diner 185, Muldoon’s, and the Grovewood Tavern, were represented there. A large crowd of locals were able to sample a variety of foods, right down to deserts. It isn’t my imagination when I state that it has become an increasing popular event over the years and shows how strong East. 185th St., and other parts of the community’s restaurant scene are becoming.
I wound up sitting next to Ken Silliman, Mayor Frank Jackson’s Chief of Staff and Anne Hill, who was Governor Ted Strickland’s Regional Director up here and is now with MetroHealth (one of the event’s sponsors). We had a nice discussion about things that matter to most Clevelanders, from such practical matters as fixing those potholes to the ambitious Slavic Village Recovery Project taking place in the Broadway Avenue area of Cleveland. In fact, Mr. Silliman was there to accept an award with Councilman Polensek from Mr. Friedman for all the work they did to secure the funding for the Waterloo Road Streetscape Plan which was completed last year. The councilman went on to state that he could not wait for one for East 185th St. in the future, which met with rapt applause. They were just two of many who received plaques that night, including the head of the new University Hospitals Euclid Health Center at East 185th and Lakes Shore Blvd.
As for me, I admit that I feel like a fish out of water at events such as these. Let’s face it, similar events happen throughout many urban neighborhoods (Taste of Tremont here in Cleveland comes to mind). Also, many of the people I knew in the community two decades ago have for the most part left and there are so many new faces from the Heights and other areas who have moved in who don’t really know how active I’ve been. The days you can walk into the development corporation offices to say hi and shoot the breeze are long gone. On the other hand, I’m really glad that some of these newcomers residents have a passion to make neighborhood better, such as Stephen Love in regards for all he does to help clean up Euclid Beach. For the survival, let alone re-invention, of a Cleveland neighborhood, that’s important. That’s why those restaurants participated in the event as well. It’s a pretty safe bet that it will be even more difficult next year to find parking spot on East 185th than even this year, and Taste the Neighborhood will be even better.
When I was doing some much needed editing to my last post, I was debating if I should include a paragraph that got me thinking. Here it is;
Northeast Shores’ Executive Director Brian Friedman tends to differ with Councilman Polensek’s opinion about the lack of interest Euclid Hospital and the University Hospitals Euclid Health Center regarding East 185 St., “How are UH and the Clinic not involved?” he wrote in an email sent to me this week when reviewing (and much needed editing) of my last post, “Both are funding current planning initiatives. The Clinic funds various Northeast Shores Activities, UH supports VASJ and just built an $11 million center.” As for the parcel that I’ve heard was taken over by the County Land Bank and that Northeast Shores will be buying, he corrected it by saying that “It will (in the future) come to us with no County Land Bank ownership.”
While I will take his word that both medical institutions gave cash to support the current TLCI (Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative) planning effort by NOACA, which is a very good thing for the area for the street. However, I did notice that, of the two sponsors for the upcoming Taste the Neighborhood to be held at the Lithuanian Hall on East 185th St. that MetroHealth, and not the other two, is doing so alongside the Hospice of the Western Reserve. Of course, according to Friedman, this is the first time the event has sponsors so, perhaps, they might do so in the future.
This all started because I decided one Saturday last month to get a haircut. It is a new place on the Euclid side of the street right across from the Rite Aid Drug Store (which in itself was a big recent much needed investment I admit). I started talking to the guy, a Millennial who has a lot to say about the neighborhood. It was from his mouth that I learned that a microbrewery was interested in the Jack Shaw building and we went on to talking about all the restaurants that are doing well and expanding elsewhere on the street.
Last Saturday, before I went to an event at the Beachland Ballroom on Waterloo Rd., I stopped at Muldoon’s. A perennially popular bar and eatery right off I-90, it draws many customers from outside of Cleveland and well into Lake County. As I was leaving I chatted with the owner and he verified what I already heard. Once the weather breaks he plans to expand his parking lot and then his outdoor patio, which has become increasingly popular. He already had the permits so it was a done deal. Investments such as these have an impact beyond the individual enterprises. I am hoping that a lot more of this happens in the near future and, with more involvement from local stakeholders, it is definitely possible.
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.
Earlier this week, I wound up at this bar and grill right off the freeway to meet up with the Collinwood-Nottingham Historical Society which was holding it’s Holiday Dinner there. Headed by Mary Louise Daley, I’ve known a majority of its members for years through various other community organizations and, having missed their meetings half this year, I felt I’d better show up. As the evening progressed, I mentioned that it was time we started really looking into the history of North Collinwood in the mid-20th century. With that, Ms. Daley told me that they are more than willing to do so if I brought something to research regarding the area, be it Euclid Beach Park, the LaSalle Theater on East 185 St. or even St. Joseph High School (she didn’t give examples but I am right now as I write). Coming home, and remembering a recent post I put on here, I came up with a piece I wrote last year on Yahoo that has just reverted back to me so here it is about the place I call home.
“Everyone along the I-90 Corridor knows what the East 185 St. Area is, but that’s the name of a street, not the historic community. The Nottingham area of Cleveland is a corner of the city very few people realize exists. It forms part of the name of local groups such as the Collinwood-Nottingham Villages Development Corporation and local businesses. However, the fact that it was once an independent village, with a neighborhood with a name of its own, eludes us.
According to Mary Louis Daley, President of the Collinwood Nottingham Historical Society, Nottingham gets its name from a Mr. Henry Nottingham who was involved in the construction of what later became the New York Central railroad through this area. Originally part of Euclid Township, Nottingham was organized in 1873, village status renewed in 1899, and was annexed by the city of Cleveland in 1911-1912 The southern half, still called locally Nottingham Village, is now considered part of South Collinwood. The rest of the village that is today part of North Collinwood goes by various names; most notably the East 185th St. area but there is another name that not too many people currently take notice.
Beachland was a term used in the area of Nottingham near Lake Erie. Postcards from the turn of the century show the name clearly written. Even today, the post office on East 185 St. is called the Beachland Station as is the Beachland Presbyterian Church on Canterbury Rd. In fact, the church is built in the middle of two streets that formed a small subdivision platted out by 1903 called Beachland. According to resident Elva Brodnick, there is even today a Beachland Homeowner’s Association. Therefore, it’s not a surprise that this name pops up on occasion with community groups who toy with the idea of changing the North Collinwood appellation of their community. Ironically, the Beachland Ballroom on Waterloo Rd. is not within the old Nottingham Village boundaries.
Whatever it is called, the area near Lake Erie at the border with Euclid is in many ways different from the rest of the NE corner of Cleveland. The housing stock is, for the most part, a generation younger than one sees in Collinwood with many more single-family dwellings. While less severe than in other parts of Cleveland, the foreclosure crisis has led to the Cuyahoga County Land Bank to take over properties and there are empty lots where vacant homes have been demolished. However, home occupancy is still higher than the city average. Though there are empty storefronts on East 185, restaurants such as Muldoon’s, Scotti’s, and Bistro 185 draw plenty of patrons; many from the suburbs and plans are underway to rehabilitate an old movie theater. With the City of Cleveland taking the Euclid Beach, Villa Angela, and Wildwood Parks back from the State of Ohio this year and in the process of transferring them to the Cleveland Metroparks, another asset will be on its way towards major improvements.”
This piece was one my most popular ones on the Yahoo Contributor Network and it does show how complex the history of my neighborhood really is. It is still a toss-up if the area will take off as an ‘in’ place to live or not but at least it’s no longer in free fall. I am amazed that, when I drive around that many houses so recently vacant are being remodeled and occupied. The Metroparks continue to improve the Lakefront parks and soon they will be done putting in the new sewers along Lake Shore Boulevard. These are very positive things and perhaps more are on their way.
Photographs by James Valentino.
This week, a local show called the Sound of Applause did an on location special on a stretch of road in my neighborhood called the Waterloo Arts District. Home of the Beachland Ballroom, this area is trying to be the East Side equivalent to Gordon Square and in the past few years things have been starting to take off. http://www.ideastream.org/applause/entry/66100#embed-code As a former Trustee of ArtCollinwood (now called Waterloo Arts) I am quite familiar with what’s going on there and am acquainted with the Beachland’s owner, Cindy Barber. All this is good and, if their gamble pays off, then what happens along what was even in my Childhood a run-down area will potentially jump start the entire Collinwood area. However, many people I know who have been long time residents who decided not to move away, feel that much more needs to be done in other parts of the community. After all, North Collinwood is not just one street and a lakefront. As a lifelong resident of the East 185 St. area which I do take an issue with what was until recently the local development corporation’s ‘benign neglect’ of this once very important commercial corridor. While some restaurants have flourished, including most recently the Standard, and I’m glad something is being done with the LaSalle Theater, there are still too many vacant storefronts. Only recently has there been a concerted effort to come up with a comprehensive plan for the area and it’s been long coming.
Last year, I did a piece for Yahoo on my part of North Collinwood; which by the way was never historically part of Collinwood, which showed how different the area east of Nottingham Rd. is from places like Waterloo. This entire corner of the city of Cleveland has so many assets that I’m glad people are not writing it off. Yet, much more can be done.
Photographs taken by James Valentino.