Jan 12, 2023 - Business

Inside Cleveland's plan to become an 18-hour city

Illustration of a neon sign that reads "still OPEN".

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Cleveland wants to become an 18-hour city, but transforming into a second-tier market with major growth potential won't be easy.

Driving the news: Last week, real estate firm Bedrock Enterprises announced plans to buy 3.17 acres of land in downtown's Gateway District.

  • The site is part of Cleveland's $3.5 billion vision for the future. The project would connect the Cuyahoga Riverfront to downtown's core with new residential units, office space, retail and entertainment venues.

Why it matters: Eighteen-hour cities — a designation created by the Urban Land Institute and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in 2015 — are considered the most attractive midsize markets for real estate investment and population growth because of their amenities, job growth and development opportunities that come at a lower cost than cities such as New York or Chicago.

State of play: PwC considers Cleveland a "backbone" market with slower growth than 18-hour cities but with the potential to develop due to moderate housing and business costs.

  • Other "backbone" cities include Detroit, Louisville, Indianapolis and Cincinnati.

What they're saying: City Council president Blaine Griffin sees Cleveland making strides with things like the Bedrock project and legalized sports betting.

  • "Cleveland has the casino, sports teams, nightlife and museums," Griffin tells Axios. "The next step is providing access to the lake and riverfront, which would make the city more walkable and bikeable, and more desirable."

The bottom line: Cleveland's population growth numbers lag those of markets like Charlotte and Denver. However, that could change if the city's ambitious projects prove successful.


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