Jan 3, 2024 - News

Cleveland is "best example" of American downtown revival

Downtown Cleveland, adjacent to Cuyahoga River, cast in heavenly sunlight

It's frequently sunny in The Land. Photo: Wil Lindsey/Courtesy of Destination Cleveland

Did you hear, Cleveland? Evidently we're "America's best example of turning around a dying downtown."

Driving the news: In a splashy pre-Christmas story, the Washington Post editorial board anointed Cleveland thus, zeroing in on the 2016 renovation of Public Square and the subsequent conversion of office space to apartments in the vicinity.

Why it matters: Cleveland leads the nation in office conversions, according to CBRE, and WaPo noted that when these conversions occur in a concentrated area, it accelerates an urban vibe shift: from a 9-to-5 office atmosphere to a lively "18-hour city."

By the numbers: Apartments immediately surrounding the square increased from roughly 40 in 2016 to more than 1,200 now, including nearly 300 each at The Standard and Terminal Tower.

Between the lines: The editorial said the "one mistake" Cleveland made was "catering to vehicles" on Public Square in the form of its central bus lane.

  • "The road is unpopular with city residents and should be removed," it read.

Reality check: The bus lane is not "catering to vehicles" — it is catering to buses, and it remains popular with the thousands of RTA riders who pass through the Square daily.

The intrigue: The Post didn't mention the unsightly concrete jersey barriers bordering the bus lane that have marred Public Square since former Mayor Frank Jackson installed them in 2017, in what many saw as retaliation against transit activists who fought to preserve the bus lane.

What's next: Public Square will become even more active when the Sherwin-Williams global headquarters opens this year on the site of two former surface parking lots.

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