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Hotel Bruce interviews Cleveland
community development director Daryl Rush

By Marc Lefkowitz

Hotel Bruce: What are the selling points and, conversely, where does Glenville need to improve?

Miriam Rush (says before leaving room):

It would be nice to have a grocery store and amenities like a florist that we could walk to. I like to patronize neighborhood-based businesses. There's a Muslim restaurant on St. Clair and E. 103rd and a great little diner called DJs that we go to. I like the fact that we have the East Side Market, because a lot of people who shop there don't have transportation. But, the blight on St. Clair is horrible. There are a lot of vacant, boarded up buildings. I think Glenville got some bad press and the perception is that it's not safe, but I walk and feel very safe.

Daryl Rush:

There's the bike path leading to the lake and a wonderful community. Doan Brook is going to be restored this year. There's controversy because some of the stonework on the bridges will be affected. But, I remember when children drowned there - the restoration should eliminate that and make it more natural. I'm excited that Citirama's taking place in Glenville. There’s Heritage Lane selling townhouses and reconfiguring 13 duplexes and nearby a project is percolating on Superior.

HB: What would you say is Glenville’s biggest community development challenge or opportunity?

DR: Commercial, which is a lot harder than housing. It’s a much more complex equation and it’s strictly market oriented. It’s either attracting nationals or keeping locals.

The idea of creating main streets in exurbs, I can’t think of kind way of describing that. But, the thing about the new development in Hudson, they don’t want nationals. They tailored it to locals. We need Steelyard Commons [ed. note: This interview took place the week before Wal-Mart announced its withdrawal from Steelyard Commons]. Part of retail‘s complexity is the ripples.

HB: Back to what you said about keeping locals, do you feel sort of conflicted about big boxes?

DR: Does it mean that retail areas nearby might need to think about how they re-tenant? Possibly. But so be it. We already have to think about Cleveland residents going to Target and Home Depot, which would help me to support (their entry into the city).

HB: Would you feel differently about Steelyard Commons if it considered its context a little more? Is just mere presence good enough?

DR: That’s a good question, but I think that they are trying to pay homage to the Towpath Trail and have discussed building a steel museum. They are trying to go beyond just the structures.

HB: How do we get people in the Cleveland area to think about the city as a place that has all of the elements of the new lifestyle center, if we build it in downtown Cleveland, will they come?

DR: Detroit has no department stores downtown…this outmigration has destroyed central cities. New York and Chicago maintained a population, but most cities don’t have that in-migration. Our downtown commercial zones are no longer expanding into our neighborhoods. We’re trying to recycle neighborhoods. We’re trying to change the historic pattern of community development and people’s thinking in order to attract them back. That’s what we’re in the midst of.

HB: How do we do that in a climate where the federal government is cutting funding for community development? What affect will that have on bringing new jobs to the city?

DR: Look at SBA’s proposed budget for your answer. The (Small) Business Information Center got its funding cut for ’06, and what’s left of the big programs like the business information and loan programs for small and start up businesses?

HB: What will it take to increase the opportunity for making development happen?

DR: We’re tying to retool and strengthen facilitating the land—the land bank helps with that. The second thing we can do is try to attract developers. If developers and CDCs see themselves in competition, that’s a misktake. We want to attract developers, and so how do we grease the path to development?

Underlying all of that, how do we create things people want? Development is not just housing structures. People buy a street, a block, and a neighborhood. So, we have to market that and build a product that we want. Are we maximizing our efforts in doing that? You get into design issues, into green building and energy efficiency and what is the competitive advantage of our product. If you’re a community on the lake, you have to promote that asset. We have to be smarter and understand that the stakes are higher.

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