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The Sound of Ideas

Where is Euclid Avenue Headed?

Posted Tuesday, July 28, 2009

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Cleveland's Euclid Avenue facelift and the corridor's Health Line were originally pitched as economic catalysts that would bring people, money and jobs to the city. Development is happening, but it has taken a turn many didn't expect: Where city business leaders imagined new retail, restaurants and condos, they're instead seeing housing for the homeless and for the elderly and a 14-acre psychiatric hospital. To put it mildly, not everyone's excited. Tuesday morning at 9, we're searching for Euclid Avenue's new identity.


Economy, Regional Economy/Business - Analysis and Trends, Government/Politics, Health, Mental Health, Other, Community/Human Interest, Courts/Crime - Fire/Law Enforcement, Transportation


Tom Bier executive-in-residence, Levin College of Urban Affairs, Cleveland State University
William Denihan CEO, Cuyahoga County Community Mental Health Board
Chris Warren Chief of Regional Development, City of Cleveland

Additional Information

Cleveland Housing Network Project
Partnership for Income Restricted Housing Leadership (PIRHL)

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Bob 8:43 AM 7/28/09

There seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding about the two housing projects.  While they will be eligible for a limtied duration real property tax abatement, just like any “market rate” project, they will pay property tax at the end of the abatement period, just like any market rate project.  Most of the financing for these two new housing projects comes from the private sector, including KeyBank, which has already made significant equity contributions in supportive housing projects along Euclid Avenue.  Finally, several appraisals done for these projects show that upon completion, the value of the real estate in the area will increase, which helps all stakeholders in MidTown.

Scott Garson 8:46 AM 7/28/09

It appears the decision has been made on the Mental Health facility.  If we accept the good that 500 jobs will provide let us turn to making sure that these jobs have the greatest impact.  Will the developers of the hospital work with local businesses in order to insure that the building is constructed in a way that promotes walkability, use of area restaurants and additional economic development?  Is there flexibility on the design?

Kathleen 8:47 AM 7/28/09

The ‘100lb. elephant in the room’ that everyone is dancing around is not the institution itself but the dispositon of the people who will be drawn to the area for the clinics and low-cost housing.  Whether or not your ‘experts’ want to acknowledge the majority’s prejudice against people with mental health or not it is there.

The people who will gravitate to this area are the same people you see wandering around the Lutheran Hospital and other areas near out-patient clinics and low-cost and/or transitional housing.  I would NOT want to ride my bike down Euclid from my home in Little Italy to downtown as I do now, if I had to pass through the type of environment I see around W.25th.

Also, I have a 50+ yr. sister who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar and other issues since she was 13yrs. I am aware of the evolution of ‘in-house’ & in-patient treatment centers.  They and their users can be very scary.

J Paul 9:22 AM 7/28/09

The issue of the mental health and the social good provided by the proposed center is irrelevant to this conversation. By bringing it up, it confuses the issue. No one is arguing against mental health; the argument is against housing such a facility on Euclid.

My understanding was that the Euclid corridor project was in part to make Euclid a destination, not a place to shoot past on your way west or east. To me, ‘destination’ means commercial and cultural development. The last caller’s point that there are positive trends in real estate were lost on me as I doubt most Clevelanders are interested in visiting a ‘bio-medical’ mall.

Additionally, the condescending remarks regarding riding a bike down Euclid were out of place. Wasn’t the whole point of the Euclid project to increase traffic along the route, not as a means to hurry people along, but so that they could make use of the businesses along it? If I want to get to Cleveland Heights or downtown, Chester or Carnegie are and always have been faster. As a sometimes cyclist, riding my bike in my city is important to me, and I thought that the Euclid project was a step towards making that practice more common, or at least encouraging the use of public transportation WHILE GOING TO EUCLID AVE. It was an unfortunate bit of hypocrisy that Mr. Denihan felt he should wave the flag of morality while championing his institution yet turn around an dismiss alternate transportation with such arrogance. Personal feelings aside, if Euclid merely becomes a site for the disadvantaged and the mentally ill, it will have strayed from its original purpose. This is not a moral issue, it’s an economic one. (I do, however, support the housing project)

Bottomline: today, the Euclid Corridor Project means nothing to most citizens of Cleveland. After the proposed projects are constructed, it will continue to mean nothing.

Kay 10:00 AM 7/28/09

I know a hi tech company that was in negotiation for a site in the corridor, and the deal breaker was Fannie Lewis’s demand that a significant % of the employees be from the neighborhood. I don’t recall the exAct # but it was close to 1/3. that demand was supported by city officials even tho there was no guarantee the residents would have the skills/education/training necessAry for those positions. I can’t understand why city officials feel compelled to constrain the private sector. to the extent that they walk away from city limits again and again.

[Also], “services” and “"social services” give two very different images. I was under the impression that these services might be dry cleaners, restaurants etc. I understand the need. for social services and the right to place them in nice places, but I truly did not envision what seems to be developing, and if this was the plan all along they should have spelled it out for us.


Shannon 10:04 AM 7/28/09

I worked with mentally ill adults for a few years and witnessed firsthand the ways in which the presence of a large community of psychiatric patients can change a community.  Because so many people living with mental illness live at or below the poverty level, huge public housing projects replace commercially viable real estate.  Residents move out.

Moreover, local law enforcement is pushed to the breaking point in its effort to respond to crisis calls from people with mental illness and their families.  In essence, the mentally ill become ghettoized.  Why not disperse services for the mentally ill and save the community?  Wouldn’t this integration help fight the stigma against the mentally ill?

John 10:05 AM 7/28/09

I support having this hospital on the corridor if in design, retail and housing is incorporated in the ground floor corridor spaces. Up to this point, all hospital expansion fails to maintain any neighborhood walkability. Metro gutted W 25th, the Clinic - Euclid. These institutions create “suburban structures and landscaping” that take away the appeal to be on the street.

An example of good integration of a hospital in an urban environment would be Children’s Hospital in Boston.

With 1 in 5 of the greater population having the need for such a facility, I think no better location that Midtown can be found.

Sandra 10:06 AM 7/28/09

Once again I am stunned by the narrowness of vision of our city leaders: to place a mental health facility in the center of our main street and effectively create a no man’s land between downtown and University Circle shows just how little imagination our leadership possesses.  I have listened very carefully to your discussion and I think those present choose NOT to see the effect this would have on the development of communities all around Euclid Avenue.  A few years ago these same folks were chopping it up about the great biotech businesses that were poised to spring up around the Clinic and University Hospital, and the housing and restaurants that would also grow there.  We (the tax payers—both locally and on a federal level) have invested millions in transportation along this corridor to encourage PRODUCTIVE growth.  Our so-called leaders risk it ALL with this mental health facility.  No one is arguing about senior citizens, who generally want to live quietly and could really benefit by being close to the hospitals and cultural institutions of our city.  Nor is there much to say about transitional housing for the homeless: I think the general public realizes that there are many homeless families, children, etc. who would benefit and thrive from this type of housing.  On the other hand, why try to pull the wool over the citizen’s eyes about a mental health facility?  I am infuriated by the half truths and glossy stories I heard on the radio: the Clinic, etc. may take in mental patients TEMOPORARILY but they DO NOT STAY IN THEIR FACILITIES LONG-TERM and believe me they do not just release them onto the streets.  As usual, the folks who live in the area and especially those who own new homes on Euclid, Chester, etc. will be even worse off because NO ONE will buy a home near a mental hospital, and NO retail business will want to be anywhere near there.

There is no credible city in the NATION that would even consider this conversation: Michigan Avenue contains the “Miracle Mile” but it also has myriad businesses, restaurants, etc.  You can believe that Chicago’s city leaders would not consider anything of the sort anywhere near their main and most famous street.  If Cincinnati has had so much success with their facility in an upscale neighborhood then why don’t they put it over on Lake Avenue or Edgewater in Mr. Denihan’s neck of the woods?

Phyllis Cleveland, Cleveland City Council, Ward 5 10:40 AM 7/28/09

First, I did not decline to participate. I received the invitation late yesterday, and I had a schedule conflict. I did call in late but was unable to get on the air.

I am pleased that the City of Cleveland was able to keep the state mental hospital in the city. I believe that an $80 million, a well-designed state of the art facility (subject to requirements of the MidTown Design Review Committee) with 500+ jobs, (many of them professional and highly skilled), would be a great asset to most communities. I understand concerns that some may have about the “types of people” who may be drawn to the facility. However, i understand that the patients do not walk in and out of the state hospital as with other medical facilities. Patients are securely admitted and discharged to the hospital. The only regular traffic to and from the hospital are its employees, suppliers and vendors, and visitors (a “shovel-ready” customer base for retailers and restauranteurs ). If my understanding is correct, the state mental hospital poses no threat and brings no detriment to any of its neighbors.

I have worked with MidTown Executive Director Jim Haviland for nearly 4 years, and believe in and support MidTown’s vision. The original masterplan called for an information technology corridor on the hospital site. Unfortunately, after seven or eight years, the resources were not available to make it happen. How long should we wait for a project going nowhere when a viable project does show up?

I believe strongly in planning and development at the neighborood level. I would not have supported this project if it did not have MidTown’s support. Last year, the Cleveland Housing Network proposed a permanent supportive housing project on Euclid Avenue in Ward 5. I believe that permanent supportive housing is important and needed in our community, and I had no personal objection to the project. Ultimately, I did not support the project because MidTown and its members were not in favor of it.

I agree with the caller Terry Coyne, that there is still a great demand for land along the Euclid Corridor and in the MidTown area. I receive calls weekly from developers who are interested in the area. I would not support a blanket 5 year moratorium on “social service development” on Euclid. If I can borrow a concept from Tom Bier, I would let development happen “organically”.

Paul 2:07 PM 7/28/09

I just finished listening to your program, and felt SO BAD for all those businessmen on Euclid Ave who are now SO CONFUSED!!!!!  Mr Bier’s comments, to me, are thinly veiled prejudices against the mentally ill, and I wish he would have the courage to own that.  He claimed (I’m paraphrasing here) that the 4 of you could not “change people’s perceptions,” but, it certainly doesn’t help when you use words like “suicide” in a major newspaper column in relation to treating mental illness.  We all need to be in the continued business of changing people’s perceptions.  It would be nice of our leaders, and our academics, would lead us in that direction.

As a Cleveland resident, I am delighted to see these developments, and as a human being, also delighted that we are not trying to hide mental illness.  It seems to me that a society builds its most important buildings to be seen, which is why church steeples are often the tallest structures in older cities and in Europe.  Here, we display our business buildings.  When I think about how we are hiding our new juvenile detention center, it shows how important those services are to us, doesn’t it?  Let us show that we are proud to be treating and healing everybody.

Frankly, Euclid Avenue today is the product of never ending bending to the fickle whims of the business community: giving tax abatements and huge government subsidies for infrastructure improvements. What has that led to?  Some very distinguished older buildings have been demolished, and it is a desolate prairie.  Why are we still listening to them?  When it is in their profit interests, they will act, and not one day earlier.  We can’t wait for them.

One more comment: A comparison was made to West 25th & Lorain. I live in Tremont, and when I want to feel like I am in a real city, I go to West 25th & Lorain. Despite all the alleged “horrible things” happening there, and the “horrible” people, that neighborhood is incredibly vibrant, diverse, and filled with fools like me who don’t seem to know how dangerous it is, even after living here for 15 years.  It seems like, despite all the “horrors,” there is actually been more commercial development in the past few years. I guess it could be more sanitized, like Murray Hill, but its fine for me.  I was disappointed that Mr Warren seemed so eager to agree with the allegation that this neighborhood is some sodom of the mentally ill, homeless, and of course, crime.  I don’t find that to be the case. 

Thanks for your time.


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