Urban development has touched every community in Cleveland. New shopping plazas, retail stores and housing have most residents feeling optimistic about the future of Cleveland's urban neighborhoods. Still, progress in neighborhood development is often slow - and with a new administration on the horizon, community leaders are working to make sure their neighborhoods continue to move ahead. 90.3 WCPN's Tarice Sims reports.
Tarice Sims- When Cleveland City Councilman Nelson Cintron Jr. talks about the progress of his ward he starts to smile. Cintron lists several housing and commercial developments including a new McDonald's located at the corner of West 32nd and Clark Avenue. The $2.2 million project is one of several that have been completed since Cintron took over the heavily Hispanic Ward 14 in 1998. But he admits the work is not done yet. Cintron says although he's proud of the new homes being built in his ward to help lure the middle class back to the city, he doesn't want lower income families to be overlooked.
Nelson Cintron- I want to make sure that even though we're building this high-end housing that also the affordability of housing stays in tack. For many years it has been the African Americans, the Latinos, and the different diversity of groups that stood behind when the hard times came around. I want to make sure that if I'm building the ward that we still focus on their needs the good working family class that they can stay here and still have a piece of their dream also.
TS- Cintron says in order to get things done in the ward there has to be a good relationship with other councilmen and the incoming administration. He says with Cleveland Mayor Mike White he was able to focus on issues in his ward and therefore was able to secure projects like the Hispanic Village, which is slated to be built on West 25th Street soon. Cintron says he's also talked to Mayor-Elect Jane Campbell about the future of his neighborhood and specific projects like the village. She says she wants to have a line of communication with city council so Cleveland as a whole can move forward.
Jane Campbell- Different wards have different needs and also different wards have different resources. So what we want to do is develop plans with the councilmen that builds on the strengths that they have their.
TS- Another part of Mayor-Elect Campbell's strategy is to talk with community leaders and create ombudsmen in the neighborhoods. One of the people who could fill that role is Tracy Kirksey, executive director of the Glenville Development Corporation on Cleveland's eastside. She's worked with city government since 1997 on several projects to revive a neighborhood that was on the decline. But in that time the $8 million project of Glenville Town center opened, and last year the east side market got a face lift. Still with everything that's gone on some residents have said progress is slow. And outsiders might get the wrong impression of the neighborhood especially looking down east 105th Street which has been lined with empty storefronts for years. Kirksey says change won't come overnight.
Tracy Kirksey- The Town Center, for example, the idea for that was conceived over 12 years ago. But considering the land or environmental conditions, the magnitude of the project trying to find a viable partner who had the financial where with all, trying to put together just all of the things that need to be put to place takes time. Mill Creek or Beacon Place those are projects that were decade or more in the planning and development is not quick.
TS- Kirksey says the Glenville Development Corporation will begin revamping East 105th Street within the next few months. She says they'd like to model the street after areas like Coventry and Larchmere - create a merchant area that satisfies diverse needs.
TK- Why should our residents have to get in a car and drive 10 miles to buy a hammer or screwdriver? Why should they have to go to Cleveland Heights or Shaker to rent a video? To go and get a pizza we don't have a pizza shop in the neighborhood. If we have 50 storefronts along 105(th Street) and I am confident we can fill those storefronts with businesses and services that Glenville and surrounding areas need.
TS- Elsewhere in the city, The Longwood Apartment complex in Ward 5 is in the midst of a multi-million dollar overhaul and just a few blocks away on Central Avenue and Quincy the new home ownership zone is under construction. Developers are building single family houses to be sold at market rate. Across town in Ward 13, Councilman Joe Cimperman is continuing the push to establish homeownership downtown. But for now, the Bingham Building on West 9th is under construction and will offer another rental option for those who want to live in the city. In Cleveland, Tarice Sims, 90.3 WCPN News.