Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Guardian's City Champions writing series features Cleveland

The Guardian's Cities Network is running a series of articles called "City Champions" featuring positive people and initiatives.  This week, they are focusing on Cleveland.

-- "Inspirational and moving: the artists and activists changing the face of a US city"

Image from "EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant Institute gets set to add bakery to Buckeye Road," News5 Cleveland.

A specific article focuses on Edwin's (Leadership and Restaurant Institute), a high end French restaurant in Shaker Square which is the anchor of a growing social enterprise network using training in the culinary arts and hospitality as a way to provide a new trajectory for the formerly imprisoned ("Inside the restaurant serving up second chances for ex-prisoners;" also see "Chrostowski returns to Edwins with big plans on tap," Crain's Cleveland Business).

I had written about Edwin's a few years ago, but had forgotten and was reintroduced to their program through a documentary, Knife Skills, which I think I saw on the TBD cable channel or PBS, but you can watch it through a link on the Cleveland Scene website.

They provide housing to people while they're in the training program, have created a butcher shop, are about to open a bakery-cafe, and I thought they had expanded to a site out-state (outside of Cleveland).

In association with the local PBS station and the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Guardian has identified 25 people and/or programs.

While it's always great to be able to read through such a list for inspiration and to get ideas, from the standpoint of substantive community improvement, the focus on individuals glosses over the importance of structural approaches.

It's why I always mention Growth Machine theory as a way to understand why cities and stakeholders do what they do.


Harvey Molotch's paper, City as a Growth Machine: Toward a Political Economy of Place, published in 1976, and later expanded into the book Urban Fortunes: Towards a Political Economy of Place, serves as the foundation for this theory.

Political scientists offer the competing theory of the "Urban Regime," which came to the fore in 1989, with the publication of Regime politics: Governing Atlanta, 1946-1988 by Clarence Stone.  A good synthesis of the work is in the paper "The Evolution of Urban Regime Theory: The Challenge of Conceptualization by Mossberger and Stoker (2001).

I don't think these theories are competing so much as different sides of the same coin. "Growth Machine" theory is best for explaining the motivation and focus of "the land-based elite," and "urban regime" theory explains in more detail how the land-based elite operates and functions.

In the paper, "Now What? The continuing evolution of Urban Regime analysis," Stone writes:

An urban regime can be preliminarily defined as the informal arrangements through which a locality is governed (Stone 1989). Because governance is about sustained efforts, it is important to think in agenda terms rather than about stand-alone issues. By agenda I mean the set of challenges which policy makers accord priority. A concern with agendas takes us away from focusing on short-term controversies and instead directs attention to continuing efforts and the level of weight they carry in the political life of a community. Rather than treating issues as if they are disconnected, a governance perspective calls for considering how any given issue fits into a flow of decisions and actions. This approach enlarges the scope of what is being analyzed, looking at the forest not a particular tree here or there. [emphasis added, in this paragraph and below] ...

By looking closely at the policy role of business leaders and how their position in the civic structure of a community enabled that role, he identified connections between Atlanta's governing coalition and the resources it brought to bear, and on to the scheme of cooperation that made this informal system work. In his own way, Hunter had identified the key elements in an urban regimegoverning coalition, agenda, resources, and mode of cooperation. These elements could be brought into the next debate about analyzing local politics, a debate about structural determinism.

On the other hand, Urban Fortunes is particularly good on various elements of the land use intensification agenda, from Downtown revitalization to sports stadiums and arenas, conference centers, and in particular, the role of local media--fully dependent of the success of the local region for its own success, being dependent on advertising revenues generated primarily from sales to local businesses--in cementing this agenda.



Image from "10 Cleveland Metroparks Vistas Sure to Take Your Breath Away," Cleveland Scene.

You need both the grassroots and individual effort as well as innovative institutional effort to move change and improvement forward in significant ways. 

People burn out and programs cease as a result.

From an urban improvement standpoint, Cleveland although still on the outs as part of Rust Belt shrinkage and a metropolitan population that hasn't grown for more than 50 years, has a number of government and "third sector" type initiatives and organizations doing really important things, and people can learn from those initiatives just as much, especially from the standpoint of thinking about structural change.

Some that have influenced me include:

-- the restoration of the Cleveland Arcade
-- Arts sales tax -- while I don't like that it's only assessed on tobacco products, and tobacco consumers aren't likely to be big arts patrons, I do like that there is a systematic approach to funding the arts ("Nonprofit that built the case for cigarette tax for the arts becomes Arts Cleveland," Cleveland Plain Dealer
-- City of Cleveland initiatives -- including their "Business Revitalization District Zoning Overlay," facade improvement programs, other architecture and design review requirements, leveraging their banking accounts to get banks to make home improvement and other loans in Cleveland neighborhoods, etc.
-- Cleveland EcoVillage -- led to the creation of the Green City Blue Lake program
-- Cleveland Metroparks, a regional agency doing interesting work with parks, especially on the Lake Erie waterfront, trails, etc.
-- Cleveland Restoration Society, was the first preservation group that I came across doing active renovation of historic properties often selling them at a loss, in order to stabilize and improve neighborhoods.  Heritage Home Program
-- Detroit Shoreway Community Development Corporation
-- Evergreen Cooperatives ("The Cleveland Model—How the Evergreen Cooperatives are Building Community Wealth" )
-- Famicos Foundation, a Catholic initiative investing and leading difficult renovation projects to produce senior and affordable housing
-- Gateway District/Historic Warehouse District revitalization organizations
-- Gordon Square Arts District is a neighborhood scale arts district initiative where various groups came together to recapture and reopen a historic theater building as an anchor for a community improvement initiative
-- Green City Blue Lake sustainability initiative
-- Kent State Urban Design Center, for me while there are many across the country, this is the first university community design center initiative that I learned about, where planning and architecture students along with faculty work on projects for neighborhoods and various agencies of local government.  For example, they produced the Transit Waiting Environments report for the local transit agency
-- Playhouse Square and the Playhouse Square Community Development Corporation is a model for restoring theaters and the city's theater district and leveraging them for a broader revitalization program ("PlayhouseSquare stars in its own real estate revival," Cleveland Plain Dealer)
playhouse-square-real-estate

-- Ohio's Receivership Statute allows cities like Cleveland to create processes by which nonprofits can take over nuisance and abandoned properties and restore them ("Receivership as a strategy for notorious nuisance properties").
-- Shared Use Trail initiatives ("Urban parks, trail projects link more people with nature" Plain Dealer).
-- Shaker Square -- a "suburban shopping center" built within Cleveland's outer city.  Granted there are many similar examples across the country, but it's cool and was one of the first I saw once I became focused on urban revitalization ("Makeover eyed for historic Shaker Square," Cleveland Jewish News).
Aerial view of Shaker Square, Cleveland
Aerial view, Shaker Square, where the square is surrounded by a shopping district, which is served by rapid transit.

-- Steeple Lighting program -- I am not religious but I appreciate church architecture.  In any case, I was struck by how churches can get assistance for architectural lighting of their steeples--21 churches have been helped through this program, which helps to promote neighborhood stabilization and revitalization
-- West Side Market -- a great public market building which anchors Ohio City
-- etc.

West Side Market has an indoor building and outside but covered sheds.

Focusing the efforts of community development corporations.  One thing struck me when I was there was that by contrast to DC, the community development corporations there seemed to be doing particularly good work.

I learned that around 2000, the foundations got together and said there are too many CDCs, doing little projects, all asking for money.  They created a set of performance goals and metrics and encouraged the groups to focus and merge when necessary, so that they would be more effective.

-- Positioning the 21st Century Neighborhood: Performance Standards for Successful Community Development, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress
In 2001, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (formerly Neighborhood Progress Inc.) created operating guidelines (updated in 2004) for local CDCs to help them achieve excellence in their neighborhood work. These guidelines have served as best practices for many CDCs, non-profit organizations, and public entities around the country.

In fall 2013, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress worked with a diverse group of industry partners to overhaul the guidelines, creating a series of new performance standards for local CDCs.

These performance standards serve a two-fold purpose: 1) to provide CDCs with benchmarks to meet or aspire to fulfill while measuring their progress and performance and 2) to guide Cleveland Neighborhood Progress in the evaluation and funding of CDCs.
Philanthropic support.  Like many other Rust Belt cities, Cleveland still has substantive foundations, usually funded through the profits of past industry, which continue to invest in the city initiatives.  The Gund Foundation and the Cleveland (community) Foundation are standouts.

Transit.  Cleveland still has legacy rapid transit, and gets a lot of attention for its HealthLine bus rapid transit service linking the university and medical districts to Downtown.  Cleveland was the first US city to link its airport to the city transit system.

Cleveland Plain Dealer.  It still covers local revitalization and the arts.  Steven Litt, the urban design and arts writer for the paper, is one of the nation's best.

Cleveland State University.  Is a city-based urban-focused university, with many programs and initiatives focused on the city.

First Suburbs Consortium.  In the suburbs, a number of inner suburbs have come together to address outmigration and revitalization needs.

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Plus there are historical lessons, like the Van Sweringens and the development of the rapid transit system and Terminal Tower, the fight between capital and democracy as seen in the work of Mayor Kucinich, especially over the fight to keep the city owned electric utility ("Reconsidering Dennis Kucinich 40 years after his Cleveland mayoral run," Cleveland Plain Dealer), the development of the advocacy approach in urban planning, the Cleveland municipal building center, a premier example of City Beautiful (and why Jane Jacobs was right to point out problems with the movement from an activation standpoint), and of course the general story of deindustrialization and the impact on legacy center cities.

Cleveland was once the sixth largest city in the US.

-- Cleveland Memory Project (images)

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5 Comments:

At 10:07 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

Some Cleveland comments:

1. That lists of activists is heavily skewed (as always) to the East side. Going through the list I saw 4-5 west siders.

2. You list of influencers is much broader, some regional. The steeple lightening comes from GE lighting having its base in East Cleveland.

3 Rail transit in cleveland remains way below what it could be.

4. Cleveland/Rust belt is a great example of what happens to cities when teh Growth Machine breaks. Forest City is of course based in Cleveland but decided to take their talents elsewhere. Terminal Tower is being converted into condos. But you can imagine how hard that may be....

5. PD did a piece in the early 90s comparing Cleveland to Toronto (basically around the same size in the 1970s). Obvious went very different direction. LIkewise a city like Denver is very much like CLE but you can see what happens when money flows in.

6. Shaker Square is a great example of something that needs an upgrade. Very dead last time I was there.

7. What they did to public square.

8. I remember in the mid 90s I looked at DC and Cleveland; basically same "size" but DC's tax revenue was 4x larger. And that was at the low point in DC....

 
At 11:18 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

I was hoping you'd weigh in@

Really good point about the breaking of the Growth Machine in terms of the death of important companies (steel, iron ore) and with Forest City as an example (Rockefeller too) of major corporations shifting their focus and/or domicile to bigger cities.

2. WRT your point about transit. Yes, absolutely. I think it's a great counter example to my point that you need a transit network and when you have it, things are better. Although probably the existing lines could be extended, and other elements added to intensify.

That being said, as long as the area is stagnant in terms of population growth, you can't get enough critical mass of inward investment to justify the expansion.

(By contrast, Boston is a different story.)

3. Relatedly, Toronto is the #1 city in Canada and not an exact comparison. Denver is a great comparison in terms of the different conditions created when the area is growing versus remaining stable/shrinking.

E.g., Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis, have different conditions from DC or Boston.

Similarly, why is Chicago stagnant in the face of general growth?

Baltimore is probably an example of a combination of difficult issues, lack of leadership, lack of a good transit network, even in a generally growing area.

3. I haven't been to Cleveland since the HealthLine opened or the revitalization of Public Square, so I didn't mention the latter.

4. Didn't know about Terminal Tower being converted to condos. I remember thinking how said it was that it was converted to an inside mall. Simultaneous to May Co. abandoning its downtown store (which was 1 millions s.f. all on its own!!!!).

5. There are redevelopment proposals for Shaker Square. But I noticed a recent article (before I saw the Guardian piece) saying that the property owner put Shaker Square on the market, which likely means a significant delay in reinvestment.

https://www.cleveland.com/business/2019/11/shaker-square-offered-for-sale-as-proposal-to-close-shaker-boulevard-is-put-on-hold.html

Shaker Square is a great example of needing to reinvest to continue a place's relevance in the regional landscape of destinations, especially in the face of new investment elsewhere.

(This is a big issue with Capitol Hill/Eastern Market.)

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Not that you don't know this, but, to be fair to other cities, DC because until recently (the last 10 years) could rely on being the HQ for a large number of federal agencies, has had a much larger commercial property sector for its size.

And the advantage of the feds not owning buildings is that properties owned by third parties but leased to the federal government are taxed.

 
At 7:35 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

came across an old post where you provided this cite vis a vis Toronto:

https://buffalonews.com/2019/07/19/toronto-keeps-growing-whats-that-mean-for-buffalo/

I would say that Buffalo is too far for Western New York to benefit from the cross-border growth. As it is, Hamilton has a hard time grabbing some of the growth.

cf. DC-Baltimore, Tacoma-Seattle, PHiladelphia-Camden, Newark-NYC.

 
At 7:38 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

While there are some economic benefits for Windsor vis a vis "Greater Detroit" it's not that big a deal. I think somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 Canadians work in Detroit.

Ciudad Juarez-El Paso... interesting stuff to study, although I only raised this to make the point that Toronto isn't a good comparable for Cleveland.

 
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