There was a late time in the 20’sth century when the 5 o’clock whistle blew, and downtown Cleveland would become a virtual ghost town, workers flocked to the suburbs.
This is no longer the case. Today, downtown Cleveland is full of life and many people call it home.
While the population of the center hit its lowest point in the 1960s and 1970s, numbers began to increase between the late 1980s and early 1990s with the development of adaptive reuse projects such as the Warehouse District. Constant subsequent development increased the population by 102% between 2000 and 2017, according to the International Downtown Association.
In 2017, 15,000 people lived downtown. In 2018, Downtown Cleveland Alliance set the goal of growing the population to 20,000 by 2020. It appears that the agency charged with making the center a vibrant place to live, work and play will achieve that goal.
In 2018, Downtown Cleveland Alliance set the goal of growing the population to 20,000 by 2020.
Downtown will actually see 20,000 residents later this year, says alliance president and CEO Joe Marinucci, and neighborhoods continue to grow.
However, efforts to increase the core of the city are not slowing down, he says.
“In 2015, we had 15,000 residents, with the target of 20,000 by 2020, and with new construction, we will reach 20,000 by the end of the year,” he says. “But now is the time to recalibrate, and by the end of the year, you will hear about 30,000 of us [residents living downtown]”.
Residential building projects such as The Beacon, Terminal Tower Residences, The Athlon, the May Co. building and The Lumen have steadily increased migration to the city, says Marinucci, and the alliance aims to continue that growth through further residential projects, embellishment of security programs and involvement of the city of Cleveland and the commercial activities of the center.
On January 31, the alliance announced its “Build Something” campaign for the renovation of the Downtown Cleveland Special Improvement District. Since 2005, the improvement district has allowed Cleveland’s core city to grow, to see a huge residential development that has attracted 20,000 residents and to create a safe place where people can live, work and play in the city.
With people living downtown, there is a solid retail business base, says Michael Deemer, executive vice president of alliance business development, with 88.8% of available space occupied. Today, the center has 473 retail stores, with over half of the restaurants, 263, making up 28% of the city’s available commercial space.
Constant development increased the population in central Cleveland by 102% between 2000 and 2017.“Today, restaurants serve as retail anchors in downtown Cleveland like department stores once,” he says. “The strength of the retail market in the center is widely supported by the population density of the residents, the workforce and visitors to the center on a daily basis.”
The alliance is 13th the annual Downtown Restaurant Cleveland Week, which runs from Monday 24 February to Sunday 1 March, is a way in which it highlights the liveliness of downtown Cleveland today. About 50 restaurants have joined to participate this year.
“Restaurant week is an initiative that many large cities, small suburbs and restaurant groups produce every year to help drive traffic to restaurant facilities during the slow winter months,” says Deemer. “Downtown Cleveland Alliance continues to lead Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week to showcase our vibrant downtown culinary scene to new talent, business, visitors and investments.”
Diners can visit the participating downtown restaurants and enjoy a three-course lunch for $ 15 or a dinner for $ 30.
Events such as Restaurant Week are popular, in part, because of the positive effects produced in the improvement district. The city is cleaner, safer, brighter and overall a destination for residents and visitors.
The improvement district, which is measured in five-year increments, must receive 60% approval from the downtown businesses. Entrepreneurs sign a petition asking the city to evaluate them (based on linear square footage of the property and the value of the property) for services that enhance the downtown experience.
“Fifteen years ago, we created a SID under Ohio law,” says Marinucci. “At that time, we worked with property owners to determine advanced services. We created a five-year threshold where we go back to building owners to give them a chance to evaluate the progress we have made.”
District improvement ratings totaled $ 4.2 million in 2019, collected from 600 property groups that own 1,700 packages, says Marinucci. “Everyone who owns real estate is subject to evaluation,” he says. “The city and federal properties are exempted.”
Downtown Cleveland Alliance’s Clean and Safe Ambassadors program is based on the help of 68 full-time, paid workers to keep the city in good shape.Programs such as the Alliance’s Clean and Safe Ambassadors program rely on the help of 68 full-time, paid workers (95 ambassadors in the summer months) to keep the city in good shape.
“The ambassadors are the concierges, the eyes and ears of the police, they keep the sidewalks clean, they act as security supplies and they will even change an apartment,” says Marinucci. “Two thirds of every dollar valued goes to the ambassadors” [salaries]”.
As the petition circulates again in 2020, Marinucci says he is optimistic that entrepreneurs will support him again. “They feel good about our work on the market,” he says. “We have received good support over the years and expect good support in the coming year.”
They expect to have 60% support by the end of March, Marinucci says, when they start working with city officials. “Our hope is for September, we will have all the ordinances approved.” It may take a few “years” to reach the next landmark of 30,000 residents, he says. “If we can maintain momentum, the faster we will achieve that goal.”