Welcome to the Bruce blog—a weekly update
on news, events and issues affecting life in Cleveland. Reporting
as it happens on transit, development, planning, environment and
arts & culture.
Basically, we write about creative ideas forming,
talk to the people who have an inside track on the issues, and sometimes
offer a commentary of our own. (For disclosure purposes, Bruce blog
is a local, independent writer who also works part-time with nonprofit
Cleveland. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those
of EcoCity or any other organization).
The times, they are a changin’ for Coventry
Road, but everything’s gonna’ be all right. That’s
the message Big Fun owner and Coventry Merchants Association co-chair
Steve Presser wants people to hear and see.
Responding to last
week’s blog item on the struggling retail scene on Coventry,
Presser contacted Bruce blog to assert that favoritism did not play
a role in his getting the former High Tide, Rock Bottom space, and
that efforts to remake one of the eastside’s favorite commercial
districts are still in progress.
“Tommy is a minority owner (with the other merchants
of the block of buildings that included High Tide),” Presser
said. “I had to be voted into that space. If two other owners
didn’t want me to be there, I would be out.”
The move will allow Big Fun to expand, which will
be a boon to the street, he adds.
An anemic economy and competition from new ‘lifestyle
centers’—not the comings or goings of shops—have
put the hurt on commercial districts like Coventry, Shaker Square,
and Tremont, Presser says.
“More people are spending time and money going
to big box stores. They’re forgetting their roots. For independent
merchants, it’s definitely a fight for the dollar. We need
support from the community. We should be screaming: Support your
The $2.5 million streetscape that the Coventry Special
Improvement District and the City of Cleveland Heights created in
2004 makes a better first impression. It also increased the value
of buildings, and assessment costs from the streetscape are passed
on to tenants.
That makes it difficult for start-ups or independents
to come to Coventry. Stepping in their shoes has been a rash of
sports bars and fast food joints.
Higher rents and the lousy economy have had an effect
on the tenant mix, Presser admits. “But it’s the cost
of doing business. We can’t go to a landlord and ask them
to drop their rent.” Although rent concessions have been a
topic of conversation, he says.
Presser and Tommy Fellow have been evangelistic about
Coventry for more than a decade. Recently, they revived the beloved
street fairs, went the extra mile on artistic details like the wrought-iron
planters, and are working with landlords to find retail and specialty
food operators like a bakery.
Their efforts are slowly bearing fruit.
Presser informs Bruce blog that Coventry will have
its first clothing operator since Renaissance Parlour closed two
years ago. Last week, national chain American Apparel signed a lease
at 1782 Coventry Rd., a 5,500 sq. ft. space formerly occupied by
an appliance store (on the northwest end of the street).
“It’s upscale, a la Urban Outfitters,
they’re conscientious about what they’re doing (using
only American made, fairly traded products) and we think it will
pull in people from outer regions.”
Meanwhile, Walgreens announced this week that it will
acquire Medic and its 23 stores. Word is reaching Presser that Walgreens
will close the Medic on Coventry. Despite it being a high performer,
a Walgreens at nearby Mayfield and Superior make the case for the
Medic store to go dark. Presser has already initiated a conversation
with the building’s owner (which is not Medic) about redeveloping
“We’re sad and we’re excited. It’s
a major retail space, an anchor. Something like this could jump-start
On Monday, October 10th, Cleveland Heights City Council
candidate Mark Tumeo spoke to a group of Heights residents gathered
at the home of Sarah and Gordon Wean.
Tumeo is a reform-minded candidate who is currently
Vice Provost for Research and Dean of Graduate Studies at Cleveland
State University. He also holds a J.D., a Ph.D. and has an array
of political and legislative experience. Tumeo has lived in Cleveland
Heights for the past eight years. He co-founded Heights Families
for Equality and spent five years on the Cleveland Heights Citizen’s
Advisory Committee on Block Grants.
Among the ideas that Tumeo is pushing:
- Expand the economic and tax base of Cleveland Heights by more
actively promoting business development, retention and recruitment;
- Use his position as Councilperson to more actively support and
promote the Cleveland Heights-University Heights schools;
- Actively review the performance of the City Manager of Cleveland
Heights in order to ensure accountability of the chief city administrator;
- Seek to develop new housing that is more accessible to the city’s
aging population, including lower price points and such amenities
as one-floor living.
- Strengthen and safeguard the city’s historic housing and
commercial districts through creating local historic districts,
Although Tumeo is not actively campaigning against
Jimmy Hicks, he has criticized Hicks’ decision to sue the
city of Cleveland Heights over its approved Domestic Partner Registry.
(Hicks lost the suit in court.) Tumeo has called this lawsuit “disrespectful
towards the voters of Cleveland Heights.”
Despite the fact that he did not decide to run until
summer of 2005 and has never held political office before, Tumeo’s
campaign seems to be picking up steam, as he canvasses the city.
is hosting a public forum for the five candidates running for Cleveland
Heights city council on Thursday, 10/27, 7- 9 pm at Forest Hill
Church, 3031 Monticello Blvd. Free and open to the public. The program,
which will be moderated by Rev. John Lentz, will focus on issues
related to urban planning, economic development and historic preservation.
Also, the fall
issue of FutureHeights News has the five candidates’ statements
responding to the question, "What is your vision for the city
ten years from now and how do you propose we get there."
When Jane Campbell first campaigned to be mayor, she
promised to look at the lakefront in a different light. And the
Lakefront Plan was born. A grand vision to reconnect with the water
and to spur development, the plan (which received a Smart Growth
Education Fund award this week) includes designating new parks at
Whiskey Island and Dike 14. Both park proposals have turned into
somewhat contentious fights over highest and best use.
Of the two, Dike 14 has been given more of a fighting
chance. It’s less pristine than Whiskey Island, but also not
at the maw of the industrial Flats. An 88-acre pile of river dredge
at the northern end of MLK Drive, Dike 14's surface is dotted with
forests, fields and hundreds of species of migratory birds. Unlike
Whiskey Island where Ed Hauser and his grassroots Friends of Whiskey
Island are advocating for creation of a natural park, Dike 14 has
the firepower of environmental groups like Nature Center at Shaker
Lakes and the Museum of Natural History pushing the city (as well
as the port and the state, which own various leases on the land)
to make good on its promise of a pastoral sanctuary in the city.
The groups formed the Dike 14 Nature Preserve Committee
and, with the city and its grant from Ohio Department of Natural
Resources, began exploring a master plan for Dike 14. The planning
grant was used to hire Maryland firm Biohabitats Incorporated, which
released its preliminary report this week.
Commenting on the report, the committee takes issue
with a number of proposals, including a massive paved driveway and
parking lot, moving and widening the trail entry point, and building
a multipurpose structure in the park as opposed just outside of
it. In addition, it opposes constructing a riparian corridor that
would contain a day lit Doan Brook.
“Doan Brook Reconstruction is totally unrealistic because
it involves the breach of the basic design and function of the Dike,
and the purpose for which it was created,” the committee notes.
Instead, the committee would like to open the Nature
Preserve to the public in “a safe manner, while preserving
the existing habitats…” The biggest issue has been how
to deal with the toxins in the soil without destroying the habitat.
It appears that the committee is taking a prudent approach, advocating
for low-impact development similar to what can be found at the Nature
Center at Shaker Lakes, and is firing a warning shot about developing
Dike 14 Nature Preserve Committee meets on Thursday,
October 27 from 6-8 pm at the Noble Neighborhood Library, 2800 Noble
Rd, Cleveland Hts.
Speaking of the need for green urbanism, guests at
The Shrinking Cites Symposium last week at CSU’s Levin College
pondered the post-industrial landscape as an opportunity to “go
from grey to green,” in the words of panelist and former Cleveland
Planning director Hunter Morrison. Once-big cities like Detroit
and Cleveland but also areas in the Northeast, the Great Plains
and older suburbs everywhere are still in denial that the reality
of no growth could be a strategy for reintroducing healthy, green
places. Representative from the city of Youngstown were present,
introducing their new master plan, which acknowledges shrinkage
and looks at it as a positive framework for planning to turn vast
and utterly spent urban spaces into neighborhoods that offer practical
Sarah Sutton – "New Paintings and
Drawings" at raw & co gallery, 1009 Kenilworth
Ave. in Tremont from 10/21-11/27. “Sarah's paintings...suggest
connections with other arts such as music, cinema, and literature,”
according to a gallery release. Sutton has a BFA from John Carroll
and is in the MFA program at Kent State. Opening receptions: This
Friday 10/21 from 6-10 pm and 11/11 from 6-10 pm. For more info.
1300 Gallery hosts "untitled"–
The show, which runs from 10/21-11/20, features paintings and drawings
from Thomas M. Lowery and Tim Callaghan, two of the hot young talents
on the Northeast Ohio art scene. Opening reception this Friday,
10/21 from 7-10 pm at 1300 Gallery, 1330 W. 78th St.
Hero Tomorrow & Myley Fashion
Show, 10/28 – 8:30 pm. Fee. MOCA Cleveland screens
a portion of Hero
Tomorrow, a new feature-length film based, shot and edited
entirely in Northeast Ohio. The brainchild of local filmmakers Ted
Sikora and Milo Miller, Hero Tomorrow is a dark comedy
about a young man's fantasy of becoming a comix super hero colliding
with a young woman's dreams of high fashion and romance. A festive
fashion showcase opens with two of the film's Cleveland-based collaborators:
Myley and its
spring 2006 collection and Alexandra
Underhill, designer of the film's comics-inspired costumes.
Day of the Dead Celebration 2005
– On Saturday, 10/29 at Josaphat Arts Hall, 1433 E. 33rd St.
Cleveland artists from various Latino backgrounds as they share
their interpretation of a traditional offering in honor of their
dearly departed. Special presentation by curator Salvador Gonzales
(3 pm), mariachi band and face painters (4 pm), performance by Tepehuani
Nelli and parade (5 pm), and art exhibit at 7:30 pm.
The Akron Art Museum hosts Wolf Prix,
co-founder of COOP HIMMELB(L)AU, the firm responsible for the stunning
design of the new Akron Art Museum. Wolf will speak about the new
museum design at the Akron-Summit County Public Library, 60 South
High St. on Thusday, 11/3 at 6:30 pm. Fee.
This past summer, volunteers and work crews led by
Green Energy Ohio installed a wind-monitoring tower on the Cleveland
Water Crib to obtain data that will help determine the viability
of off-shore wind power on Lake Erie. The 125 ft., 6000 lb tower
(containing wind monitoring equipment at different heights and more
than 20 sensors in all) was airlifted in two sections out to the
crib via helicopter.
The project’s been in the works for more than
four years, with major funding from Cleveland, Gund and Steffee
foundations and the City of Cleveland with several partners involved.
In mid-September, volunteers installed the data logger
and set up a real-time wireless transmission system to beam the
data ashore. The study will run for two years with data available
to the public. Boaters and others may find the wind speed and
web cam on the tower useful as well.
It is important to note that this project is not a
mandate for wind turbines on Lake Erie. During the study period
Green Energy Ohio will convene public meetings of stakeholders to
discuss the data and the implications of wind development since
the lake is a resource to be shared by all in the region.
Simultaneous to the off-shore project, GEO is installing
instruments on radio and cell towers at six locations around the
state to verify the Ohio Wind Map and provide power projections
for large on-shore turbines. The first two monitoring towers are
installed at Wapakoneta and Bryan, Ohio.
—Fletcher J. Miller
Green Energy Ohio
[Editor's Note: Miller has not yet analyzed the first month’s
crib data, but plans to run some comparisons with shore locations.
As for conversations with GE’s top exec. as
reported in the last Bruce blog, Miller “was not invited
to the meeting they held downtown, so I can't say what their plans
are. I do have a contact there, so I'm going to try to find out.”]
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