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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Save the Crane!

Recently, a number of members of the Urban Ohio forum site (linked at right) have begun pondering a new campaign to draw people to Cleveland. (View the thread at http://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php?topic=7198.0) The "Come Home to Cleveland" campaign is, in my eyes, right on and can be one of our best marketing approaches in years to come as we enter into a new era of construction and urban development in Cleveland of a scale that we haven't seen in over a decade. The following was my most recent post to the thread:

Another thought that crossed my mind on the subject pertains to the timing of this campaign... knowing how long some of these projects will take to materialize and the propensity for big projects to either fail or get whittled down to miniature versions of themselves, when this launches, its products need to be visible. That doesn't mean that the apartments need to be ready to inhabit, but that there need to be (at least) cranes in the air.

Those of us geeks on this site know how exciting the sight of progress in the form of cranes can be, but it's not just us. How long has it been since we've had a significant number of construction projects going on Downtown at the same time? We've had one here (the new Courthouse) another there (Pinnacle), but not since the mid-1990s have we seen a quantity to get excited about. Over at the Clinic and UC, construction progress has been more plentiful and concentrated, but the outcomes haven't been nearly as great as the prospects. We've seen one disappointing Clinic building opened after another. CWRU's new housing and the Weatherhead School produced some interesting outcomes. But just wait until we've got the CIM, CMA, the West Quad, and Ford & Euclid all going on at once!

And then think about what we have lined up for Downtown Cleveland with the Avenue District, Flats East Bank, West 9th & Main, and the lots between St. Clair & Superior...potentially all at once! Imagine the excitement in every Clevelander's and every visitor's hearts when we see those cranes in the air! There will be a buzz about town...and the millions of annual visitors will go home to Toledo or Pittsburgh or Indianapolis or Toronto and remark about the amount of construction going on in Cleveland. Minds will start to wander (maybe Cleveland's the place to be...) and people will want to come back to see what we've built!

To paraphrase what one of my professors at CSU (Ned Hill) recently said, "Clevelanders have, for too long, thought of the crane as an endangered species." How true! Let's build and save he crane!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Cleveland: A City of Idle Chatter-ers

It's been a while, but I felt it was time for a little editorial...

The questions running across my mind this morning as I attempted to enjoy my first cup of coffee went like this:

What is up Peter B. Lewis's bum? Why does he hate Cleveland? What the heck does "palaver" mean?

Well, I looked it up. According to dictionary.com, palaver means "idle chatter" or "flattery intended to persuade" and it was the Word of the Day on August 23rd, 2000. Incidentally, yesterday was the first time that the word was used in print since that date some 5.5 years ago and Lewis was so miffed about it that he used it twice!

For those of you who are completely lost, the front page of Sunday's PD featured an article by Steven Litt titled "Princeton gets a gift, Cleveland a knock." The article was basically about how Peter B. Lewis gave a $101 million gift to Princeton University and has instituted an unwritten moratorium on philanthropy in C-town until the powers that be get their thumbs out of their bums and learn how to work together to make things happen.

Quotes of note:

"Cleveland is not high on my list because it's all palaver."

"It's individual palaver. It's people not cooperating with one another. There's no apparent leader to the enterprise."

and my personal favorite:

Case and other institutions should "collaborate to develop restaurants, movie theaters, poolhouses, whorehouses and bars in the University Circle neighborhood." (Litt acknowledged that this was exaggeration for the sake of impact.)

Now, I know that Cleveland has its issues with cross-agency collaboration over the years and UC is perhaps the primary example of this, but how is it possible to think that we haven't made progress in recent years and months? The cooperative planning efforts taking place in UC are inspiring, if you ask me, and should lead to nothing but a brighter future for the district. Add Chris Ronayne to the equation and the acquisition of land at Ford & Euclid, construction progress at neighborhood institutions and an increasing understanding of the need to improve surrounding neighborhoods and ameliorate the insular nature of the Circle and you've got quite a promising set of developments!

Here's my take on Lewis's comments: He can't be oblivious to this progress, so unless someone has done something to personally offend him, I'm guessing he's just continuing with his incendiary commentary in an effort to "light the fire" under the rear ends of those institutions that are still not on board. Until he sees some products from these plans, he's not going to stop. He may slip a $100k bill to one or another cause in the meantime if he likes what he sees, but he's not going to be dropping the big dollars until he sees major progress. And hey, it's his money and his call, but I'm not going to sit here and buy the old "Cleveland's on the verge of implosion" story that we're all too familiar with. Not with $171 million in venture capital funding for NEO bioenterprise firms...not with a rapidly growing UH and Cleveland Clinic...not with the sincere plans of area developers to rebuild Downtown Cleveland and the neighborhoods...and not with the people I've met who are working their asses off to make this all happen!

If you want to read the article, check it out: [url]http://www.cleveland.com/search/index.ssf?/base/entertainment/1137933154133230.xml?exoth&coll=2[/url]