The City of Cleveland has been home to several major development projects in urban areas. Northern Ohio Live named the best neighborhood revitalization effort the Lee-Harvard Shopping Plaza. The rebirth of Shaker Square had an honorable mention. Both projects have breathe new life in to declining urban areas on Cleveland's eastside - but as 90.3 WCPN's Tarice Sims reports, some critics say while they're happy these projects are happening in their neighborhoods they also want to see more minority participation.
Tarice Sims- The Lee-Harvard Shopping Center located in southeast Cleveland re-opened this year after a $27 million face-lift. It's one of several projects that looked to rejuvenate struggling neighborhoods that seemed to be sitting on tons of potential. Case Western Reserve University Economics Professor Bo Carlsson says it is important to utilize these urban areas to inspire economic growth throughout city.
Bo Carlsson- Certainly it's crucial to have businesses growing in the vicinity of the inner city. Just to make to exploit the labor force that's there - and make the city more attractive.
TS- Neighborhood Progress Incorporated, a non-profit that stabilizes and revitalizes communities, organized the development team for Lee-Harvard, which consisted of 3 community based developers - New Villages, Forest City, and Amistad - and three financial backers, Fannie Mae, National City and Key Bank, provided most the money for the project. A few miles away Shaker Square was revived due in part to the efforts of Center Point Properties. Developers say the roughly $25 million project more than tripled the tax value of the area. But some say revitalizing these urban communities is great but the people who live in the neighborhoods need to be more active in developing the projects. Henry Stoudamire Jr. is with McMullen Realty located just south of the Lee-Harvard Plaza. He says when building in minority communities developers need to include more minorities.
Henry Stoudamire Jr.- It's not enough to get a development done in a minority based residents. It's not enough. What is enough is the fact that if you understand the need to have the actual have the establishment relaxes the standards and have minorities doing the work. Not just labor work but contracting work. There's millions of dollars being made in this city.
TS- Lee Harvard Resident Linwood Smith agrees. He says because African Americans make up the majority of city's population he's says they should be equal partners in these types of investment projects.
Linwood Smith- Because if you're operating in a minority area and you're spending minority dollars, why shouldn't the minorities participate you see. We want to keep the money in the minority communities.
TS- Stoudamire says minorities have not been given the same opportunities to be apart of development projects around the city. But officials say numbers cannot be equal because there aren't as many minority contract businesses. Also the City of Cleveland has set a goal that encourages developers to use 30% minority and 15% women. Adam Fishman is principal of Center Point Properties. He says in re-building Shaker Square they actually exceeded that minority goal.
Adam Fishman- It is important for us as asset owners of asset that's in an area that has a lot of different people in it to be able to employ and offer attractions to all those groups.
TS- Fishman says the work that minorities did on the project included contract labor. Still local officials are investigating if all urban projects are meeting the goals set and if the guidelines need to change. As a Cuyahoga County Commissioner, Jane Campbell has worked on minority contract programs and plans to continue do so as the next Mayor of Cleveland.
Jane Campbell- One of the things that I'm doing even now as a County Commissioner is that we're doing a disparity study, to understand that we'll be able to have the facts we need in terms of the court to able to make it clear that we can have continuing needs for minority set aside programs and what not.
TS- Cuyahoga County is working with the City of Cleveland and the Port Authority among others on the year long study. Regulations call for the county to show proof that there are fair opportunities for minorities in publicly funded development projects. Results of the study are expected in a few months. In Cleveland, Tarice Sims, 90.3 WCPN News.