Why Revitalization is Important for Ohio

I recently produced a series of videos for Greater Ohio Policy Center about city revitalization and to give you a teaser, here is the first video of the series:

Enjoy!

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Mayor Coleman Calls for an Urban Agenda

As reported by the Columbus Dispatch, Mayor Coleman of Columbus gave the following remarks at the Restoring Neighborhoods, Strengthening Economies Summit on June 9th:

“We need a state legislature that understands cities are economic engines, not economic drains,” Coleman said during his keynote speech at the Greater Ohio Policy Center’s summit on urban innovation and sustainable growth.

Coleman wants to see better public transit — both within cities and connecting Ohio’s urban areas. He wants the state help to create more-walkable neighborhoods and fight blight, and he wants the legislature to renew a state fund to clean up polluted industrial sites so they can be redeveloped.

“We’ve come to the point where we need a statewide urban agenda,” he said at the Westin Columbus hotel Downtown.

The Summit also included a plenary panel of leading mayors from across the state: Mayor Nan Whaley of Dayton, Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson of Toledo, Mayor Randy Riley of Wilmington, and Mayor John McNally of Youngstown. Highlighting recent successes in their cities, the mayors struck an optimistic tone on the future of cities in Ohio and each noted the unique relationship their city had with its surrounding region and the state. Discussing challenges facing their cities—including the difficulty of blight and connecting workers to jobs and opportunity—the mayors cautioned that the state of Ohio could do more to support cities.

An urban agenda would support the revitalization of neighborhoods and cities throughout the state, help connect workers to employment centers, create vibrant communities of choice, and strengthen Ohio’s economy.

Business Leaders Want Walkable Downtowns

Hundreds of American companies see unique competitive advantages to being located in a walkable downtown neighborhood. These locations are helping companies attract and retain talented workers, build their brand and corporate identity, support creative collaboration, be closer to partners, consolidate operations, and support triple-bottom line business outcomes.

Core Values: Why American Companies are Moving Downtown is a new report from Smart Growth America in partnership with Cushman & Wakefield and the George Washington University School of Business’ Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis. The report surveys nearly 500 companies that have moved to or expanded in walkable downtowns over the past five years, as well as interviews with 45 senior-level staff at those companies. The report sheds light on why these companies chose a walkable downtown and what they looked for when making their decision.

“These companies chose a walkable downtown location to help them better compete for talent and resources,” said Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America. “That tells us two things. First, that creating these kinds of places is a crucial economic development strategy for cities. And second, that companies which haven’t considered a walkable location may be at risk of falling behind.”

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Graduate Students Innovate Strategies for Rust Belt Revitalization

Rust Belt cities—like Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Warren, Youngstown, and Buffalo—have some of the most pernicious challenges facing urban areas today. Concentrated poverty, aging infrastructure, population and industry loss, swaths of vacant properties, and decades of underinvestment are just some of the issues confronting these cities. And yet, now more than ever before, these cities have an opportunity to attract new populations who crave vibrant places with character.

The question is, how do these cities strategically invest in their assets and tackle their obstacles to benefit from this renewed interest in urban living? How can they become great again?

As a graduate student in the City and Regional Planning program at OSU’s Knowlton School of Architecture, I started a yearlong independent study to attempt to answer these questions and to innovate solutions to Rust Belt city challenges. Twelve other masters students in the City and Regional Planning program signed up for the course, and together we spent the 2011-2012 academic year researching, brainstorming, and writing about potential solutions for the Rust Belt. As part of our research, we visited Pittsburgh, Youngstown, Detroit, and Flint during our Spring Break and spent time talking to local leaders and learning from grassroots efforts. By the end of the year, we created a publication compiling our articles on our individual topics and solutions.

The publication that we created is titled 13 Strategies for Rust Belt Cities, and you can download it for free here:

RustBeltBookCoverImage

Each article in the publication presents an innovative strategy to address a Rust Belt challenge, such as:

  • Tax code to reduce the number of inner city vacant lots,
  • Chaos planning to bring life into urban cores,
  • Multi-lingual signage to accommodate diverse populations,
  • Policy to protect the Great Lakes,
  • Reuse of abandoned rail lines,
  • Free rent to incentivize migration back into the city, and much more.

Together, these articles paint a vision for what the Rust Belt could be within our lifetimes. By promulgating these ideas, we hope to contribute to the conversation about how to implement strategies for addressing the region’s obstacles and providing avenues to revitalization.

Urban Exploration

In honor of my birthday today, I thought I would give myself (and all of you!) one of my very first and very favorite blog posts from 2009. Enjoy!

Kent architecture alum, Ted Ferringer M.Arch ’08, MUD ’08, took these photos while exploring the urban outskirts of Cleveland.  His descriptions of place are coupled with the photography.

“Admiring”

Admiring

This photo is from the roof of the old Howard Johnson’s hotel at the north end of E. 55th Street, just off of I90. This photo was taken during the Labor Day weekend airshow, which some friends and I spent the afternoon watching from the roof. That roof probably has the best view in the city.

The building is currently being demo-ed, but the work has paused as the building’s owner has sued the city, who was demo-ing it through eminent domain.

A common collaborator of mine and good friend, Ryan DeBiase, embellished the day’s events in a blog post, here. It’s a work of creative non-fiction; some events are true, some are complete lies.  Granted, he still re-caped the day’s events better then I ever could.

Its pretty ironic that the demo of the building started, then stopped, and now looks like it was bombed. It seems somehow appropriate, however, that the lies of that day eventually became a sort of fact.

6611 Euclid Ave. (1) and (2)

6611 Euclid Ave.

These photos were taken during another urban exploration with my common companion for such things, Mr. DeBiase. This building intrigued us the second we saw it after moving to Cleveland. It’s located along the Euclid Corridor, and its basic story is that it used to be light industrial/warehouse space (I believe it housed a garment factory for a number of years) before eventually being abandoned.

When the Euclid Corridor project started, the front bay of the building  on the Euclid Ave. side was cut off to accommodate the wider street. For quite a while the building sat unsecured, with the entire front of the building sitting open–creating an amazing real-life building section.

6611 Euclid Ave.

Again, there seems to something inherently poetic about having to cut into the former soul of the city (a former manufacturing building)–creating a monumental scar–for progress to take place.

The RTA, which owns the building, has since covered the front of the building with giant metal panels, creating a new billboard/super graphic along the corridor, promising better times ahead. Like all things Cleveland, the potential is amazing, if perhaps forever unrealized.

I also happened to do a real estate case study for this property in a real estate class at CSU’s Levin College. This property would make an amazing technology/health care incubator site, as the shell of the building is in amazing shape, in an amazing location. It could make an incredible mixed use, TOD development.

Photos from this day’s real were just used in an article about this idea.

(Ted Ferringer lives in Ohio City and works for a local architecture firm.)

Lemonade: Detroit

“If y’all wanna see the community transform, common, let’s get to work.”

Lemonade: Detroit is a project Erik Proulx created about two years ago to share the voices of the people who have chosen to stay and make a difference in Detroit. He allows people to become co-producers by purchasing frames in the film – helping with both production costs and community engagement. The film currently has over 2,344 producers. Want to become a producer too? Visit the Lemonade: Detroit website.

The Metropolitan Revolution

Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley co-authored a new book, The Metropolitan Revolution, published by Brookings Institution Press.  The book is about Northeast Ohio’s revolution to become a network that sustains economic prosperity.  Since the release, Katz and Bradley have been traveling across the nation on a tour, talking with reporters and stakeholders about the process underway around Cleveland.  Below are some excerpts from their book.

“Metropolitan areas are so big, complicated and diverse that they don’t need heroes.  They need networks.”

“Enter Voices and Choices, a two-year effort to develop a regional economic competitiveness agenda for Northeast Ohio.  Throughout 2005 and 2006, the Fund connected with more than 20,000 residents of the region in one-on-one interviews, town meetings and workshops about the region’s assets, challenges and priorities.  With these insights gathered, Fund collaborators were able to distill four goals to guide regional action: business growth, talent development, racial and economic inclusion, and government collaboration and efficiency.”

“Stakeholders in the region started BioEnterprise, a non-profit that helps inventors connect with experienced managers, venture capitalists, production facilities, other inventors, state and federal grants and whatever else they need to build their company.”

“The Fund estimates that, during its first nine years, the work of its grantees helped add 10,500 jobs, $333 million in payrolls and $1.9 billion in investments to the region.”

“Too many metros are still looking for the next Bill Gates, Michael Dell or Mark Zukerberg.  But there is a growing appreciation for the power of networks, and we need look no further than Northeast Ohio to see why.  These efforts to use networks to bring about a new economy – built on the foundations of the old economy – are aligned with powerful social, economic and cultural forces.”

To listen to a podcast of Bruce Katz talk about the book and its findings on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” click here.