Kent State presents a plan for East Cleveland

Submitted by Phillip Williams on Fri, 05/05/2006 - 11:41.

Members of the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative presented thier vision for a better East Cleveland.

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??? Am I missing something ???

I'm not seeing anything, I'm not reading anything to explain what I'm suppose to be seing in this video, and truth be told, I can't hear it ... or at least it is of such poor and garbled quality, I can't make out what is being said.  Considering how short this video clip is, I question, what of substance could have been said about proposals for my community in such a short time.

I'm very curious and very cautious about what is being proposed for my community, by people outside of my community.  Some times that is a very good, helpful and much needed thing.  But some times its just another case of negative patronizing, classist, divisive, greed and grab, gentrification.  The bad kind of gentrification.  The kind where poor people, people of color and the elderly get tax valuated and rent increased out.  (I've had family memebers go through this in DC.  I seen its very ugly manifestations in Columbus.  And the stories in NYC are legend.  Even been a few books and conferences about it all.) 
The bad kind of gentrification where artists (very good thing) are brought in and used to get the place cleaned up and primed with their blood, sweat, and cheap labor and then SOHO style priced out of the very communities they worked so hard to revitilize (and which the artists often do without running the poor and the elderly and the people of color away) by the yuppies and preppies come to play at being urban hip.

Would I love to see MY community "gentrified"?  You bet!  But in the right and positive way.  That's why I'm very concerned about what is being proposed by people outside of my community about my community.

Where is, at the least, a narrative, much less a transcript of what was said at this Kent State / Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative presentation?  None of the links I've clicked on seem to go any where deeper than the above image and very short video.

What if lead eradication does the same thing to East Cleveland

Sorry about the limited coverage of the KSU CUDC review - I have some good photos and attended the review so I'll write it up and link it in here... For reference, this is a student project that generated lots of great ideas and "marketing tools" for East Cleveland development, but it is up to the city to manage its way forward. And the video was an experiment by our technology officer, trying out some new equipment- sorry for the confusion.


I agree gentrification is a risk in East Cleveland, but that can be forecast and controlled. I am more concerned right now about the well over 21% of babies in East Cleveland being exposed to hazardous levels of lead, who will be brain damaged for life - they are not just being poisoned in outsider slum-lorded tenaments but across the under-maintained, decayed urban housing stock that is a catastrophic standard in the community.


Consider that a very high percentage of the 10,000+ housing units in East Cleveland need demolition or lead eradication, at a cost of at least $5,000 per housing unit - perhaps $25,000,000 must be spent immediately. While the repairs are made, the families must move elsewhere, at additional cost. In many cases, costs are significantly higher - for single family houses with dozens of window, wood siding, porches and trim inside and out, and rotting garages out back, the cost could exceed the value of the property. There are additional costs to deal with lead in the soil. All told, the cost of bringing under control lead as a public hazard in East Cleveland will total $50-100 million - without adding a housing unit.


The cost is disproportionately high for this generation of East Cleveland property owners inheriting or purchasing very decayed and highly toxic lead-hazard property. That most East Cleveland properties are large-scale, old, in many cases historic, wood-everywhere, on large lots, densely planned, in decaying neighborhoods with many dirt lots all make the lead problem and cost worse (not to mention mold and other healthy home concerns).


While there are many foundation, regional, state and federal lead awareness and eradication funding support programs, these will only bring $ millions into East Cleveland - not $10s of millions. Litigation against the paint and lead industry may help, if successful, but that will come later and only reimburse for rather than fund elimination. The bulk of the cost will be paid by property owners, which will lead to increases in rents charged and property values.


Understandably, property in the completely renovated, relandscaped and lead free community of East Cleveland will be in higher demand than in surrounding toxic neighborhoods of Cleveland, Euclid and Cleveland Heights, especially where there are quality, cost and transportation advantages in East Cleveland, so East Cleveland will move up market.


Housing prices will increase - more homes will be owner occupied - owners will take charge of their streets, schools and community. They will mow vacant lots and pick up trash - they will attract a Dave's Market and drive out the package liquor stores. They will police the streets and install webcams. Lead free East Cleveland will be the most progressive, healthy, safe and desirable community in the region.


Is that gentrification, if we didn't move in one artists but fixed a critical health hazard and so gave the community a competitive advantage that benefits residents, but also creates huge market demand? Either way, the residents live in a healthy community, which is progress. If moving in some artists makes this happen fasted, and fewer children are lead poisoned, I think that is better.


My suggestion is to identify everyone owning, renting and squatting in East Cleveland right now, and determine their interests in the community. If they own property, are they successful property owners or in trouble and how can they be helped out of trouble, or how can enforcement be used to eliminate the property owner as a problem in the community. If they rent or squat, do they want to stay - own - develop programs to help current East Cleveland stakeholders strengthen their claims (and when necessary better live up to their responsibiltiies) before they are tested by the outside winds of "progress" that are coming.


You could then set up lists of former East Cleveland residents, Shaw High School graduates, etc., who want first rights to property that becomes available for rent of sale, and you could help them return home. I'm not sure where you draw the lines, but anything that creates market demand for property in East Cleveland, resulting in eradication of lead poisoning is excellent.


Sorry to rant about lead, but I'm on the Greater Cleveland Lead Advisory Council and I have made East Cleveland a high priority - if you'd like any more information on any of this, please feel free to email me at norm [at] realinks [dot] us


BTW - I find the best way to learn what is going on in East Cleveland is to attend the Friday mayor's town halls at the Helen S. Brown Center, and the City Council Meetings. At a city council meeting a few weeks ago, David Reed from the Kent CUDC presented a preview of the student work on East Cleveland to the council and citizens (which should be recorded). For more on the Kent State work, contact David Reed there at dreed2 [at] kent [dot] edu




Please include time/place  of Friday Mayor Brewer meetings on RealNeo home page calendar. 



Not a rant at all - GOOD information


     Yes, by all means if you have better links and/or transcripts of the KSU video meeting, I'll be real glad to take a look at them. 

     And NO - that was not a rant about the lead.  It opened my eyes to another layer and level of something I live with everyday.  Elders on fixed incomes, living in a home built in 1921, purchased in 1965 with last major fix-ups done somewhere within a decade and now flaking, chipping lead paint every where.  (And lets not talk about plumbing, electrical, insulation, siding, windows, etc. etc., etc. ...)  But with her advanced age and fixed income,  (her husband died many years ago)  one has to consider (1) how could she possibly pay for repairs of any kind in her home, and (2) particularly because of her advanced age, if her children want to tie-up their own potential future house owning $$$ in paying for repairs to house that they have no intention of stay in once she passes on [and that could be a year from now or it could be 10 years from now ... who knows]. 

     Do you force her to move out of her home that she doesn't want to leave?  She's still mobile and in her right mind.  The middle solution has been for some of us to move back in with her.  If you were able to get her to leave, in its present condition could you sell it?  No.  To bring it up to code would cost more than what you can sell it for.

     In otherwords, can you get back out of the house what you put into it?  What we've kitchen table figured out thus far is that to do some of the basic and major needed repairs would already cost more than the house is valued for, so how do you even get a 2nd mortgage?  How do you ask an elder to take on that kind of a burden?  Do we want to be obligated to that debt with no hope of recouping, once she's gone, if we don't plan to stay?
     And that's not even taking into consideration the lead problem.

     And the sad thing is, many of East Cleveland old stock houses are actually beautiful homes.  But ....

UGH ....

My husband and I watch Brewer's taped Friday meetings on a regular basis.  So we're pretty up on stuff in that regards.  We've just never known the TIME (and haven't always been clear which day) of the meetings.

Thanks for much food for thought.



I'm 58 and you hit all the buttons ...tough calls..but what an exciting challenge to find ways out of this mess...step by step... why not start today?  I volunteered to GIS map the ECleveland street lights to find which are working and which aren't.  The city pays for the lights either way.  Wanna help?