A federal judge has thrown out the city of Cleveland’s lawsuit against a number of large banks that the city believes contributed to the crisis in foreclosures.
The city is appealing, according to this Plain Dealer blog post.
The city of Cleveland is considering installing a commuter bike station in downtown,Green City Blue Lake is reporting.
The plan will include covered, secure bicycle parking, a maintenance shop and shower facilities. The city is working withClevelandBikes and a nonprofit national organization called Bike Station. Continue reading
Since meeting with approval from the Ohio General Assembly in December, the new Cuyahoga County Landbank has spurred some creative rethinking for landuse in Cleveland.
Among the proposals: Continue reading
Last month, Rust Wire had a brief post about a fake “promotional” video for Cleveland posted on YouTube. The video sparked quite a discussion, both on this web site and within Cleveland.
I thought it was somewhat humorous, but many didn’t like it. Some Rust Wire readers pointed out that humor like this can hurt the city and its image, others said we should be able to laugh at ourselves once in awhile. (It even prompted Cleveland’s tourism and promotional agency, Positively Cleveland, to launch a contest to make a more positive video.)
Well, if you didn’t like the video, be prepared to hate this article from humor publication The Onion, titled, “Detroit Mayor Throws First Brick in Glass-Breaking Ceremony for New Slum.”
A Detroit News story today about an effort to reform a Detroit Public School caught my eye. The story was about Osborn High School, where only 4 percent of students passed the math and writing portions of the Michigan merit exam last year.
Did you know what the graduation rate in Detroit Public Schools is? 37.5 percent! The lowest in the country. Continue reading
Rust Wire was thrilled to be able to interview Alex Kotlowitz, one of our nation’s best journalists about urban issues and problems. Kotlowitz will be speaking Monday at Cleveland State’s Levin College Forum. Kotlowitz penned the New York Times story “All Boarded Up,’ about foreclosure in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood. He also authored “There are no Children Here,” the story of two boys growing up in one of Chicago’s toughest housing projects. Here’s the first part of our conversation:
A Cleveland based for-profit company is looking to establish a “foreclosure clearinghouse” to deliver bank-owned properties to government entities and nonprofits.
ideastream in Cleveland reports REO Clearinghouse is planning to streamline the purchasing process for local agencies that have been endowed with stimulus money to address the housing crisis. Continue reading
Cleveland resident Trevor Clatterbuck has a new model for the food industry: one that connects a local mother and her a grocery list with a farmer located a few miles away, all via home computer.
Clatterbuck, the 23-year-old founder of Fresh Fork Market, is using the power of the internet and social networking to revolutionize the way people buy produce in the Cleveland area.
This is the second time this week I have heard someone publicly advocate for a single government in Cuyahoga County, the jurisdiction surrounding Cleveland.
In this Plain Dealer editorial, Chris Ronayne, head of a community development nonprofit known as University Circle Inc., advocates for a dramatic overhaul of regional and statewide development and tax policies.
If greater Cleveland doesn’t stop sprawl and its population continues to decline, we could be looking at municipal insolvancy in the central city, he says. Continue reading
Youngstown’s Tyler Clark has a blog post today about a deconstruction forum that took place in Youngstown yesterday.
This process was first piloted on a large scale in Cleveland, with the support of the Cleveland Foundation. The best synopsis I’ve read was in this New York Times article last year.
Rather than demolishing vacant homes at a considerable cost to the municipality, a former architect named Brad Guy had the idea of taking apart homes nail by nail and scrapping the parts. The process has been attractive to many Rust Belt cities in two ways. First, it requires lots of workers in soft job markets. Second, it creates value out of what was formerly thought of as a total loss. In an added benefit, reusing building materials is green, green, green.
Urban Advocates in Youngstown have been pushing to bring the tactic there. The city has been demolishing about 500 homes annually at a cost of more than $1 million.
We brought you this story over one month ago, but it’s nice to see the trend of artists recolonizing foresaken Rust Belt neighborhoods is garnering some national attention.
The Wall Street journal reports today on a New York couple who purchased a home in Cleveland’s Collinwood neighborhood, converting it into a home/studio/band space.
This week’s Cleveland Scene has an excellent article on the implications of the Cleveland Diocese’s plan to close 52 parishes. Author Michael Gill fears that many of the churches, once closed, will be demolished to save money.
“Choosing to demolish rather than hang on to a building until it can be sold or a way can be found to re-use it deprives the city of another piece of its physical character, its culture and its history,” he writes. “In St. Andrew’s case, the imminent tax burden figured prominently into the decision. Churches are exempt from property taxes until they are no longer used as churches. Then they are added to the county tax roll and must pay at the commercial rate of 2.84 percent. The diocese is eager to cut expenses, and paying taxes on extra church buildings doesn’t fit into that plan. For what is surely the region’s most culturally significant collection of architecture, that clash of perspectives could be devastating.”
I know I’ve already done a few posts on this issue, so I apologize for beating a dead horse here. For readers who aren’t familiar with it, it’s a pretty big deal in Cleveland: the Diocese is reconfiguring and merging parishes to have 52 fewer by next year. As this story points out, especially hard-hit are a number of “nationality” churches (such as Hungarian), and several landmark buildings.
What about the “it’s only a building argument”?
Gill writes, “[B]uildings like St. Stanislaus stand at the center of the city’s ethnic, economic, architectural and art histories. They are the confluence of all these things. At St. Stan’s, the stories of Jesus and the saints are physically manifested in statuary, relief carvings and paintings. The skills of previous generations, motivated by faith, are visible in the vaulted ceiling, in the carved-plaster borders, the leaded and stained-glass windows, in the ornate altars and even in the functional furniture, like the hand-rubbed, red-oak pews. As the information sheet in the pews says, the church was built by Polish craftsmen who emigrated after Newburgh steel mill owner Amasa Stone advertised in Poland for workers. The church building is the physical result of Cleveland’s history — economic, ethnic and religious. Renovated in 1998 and busy with activity, St. Stan’s is not facing closure.” (emphasis mine)
As the story points out, it is possible to find wonderful, creative reuses for old church buildings. I’m familiar with several in Pittsburgh: the Church Brew Works (a microbrewry and restaurant), Altar Bar, and Mr. Small’s Theatre. What other examples am I leaving out?
We’ll see what happens, but Gill believes the outlook isn’t good:
“Cleveland is not likely to get any Old Testament-style reprieve, like when God stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son Isaac. Divine intervention is not on the Northeast Ohio horizon. Preserving this history is up to us.”
We’ve already had some posts on this blog that deal with Catholic church closings and consolidations in our cities. And we know that closing churches can be a painful, emotional process for neighborhoods and parishioners, as this upset letter to the editor, recently published in The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer demonstrates:
“Although forced by the realties of declining membership, Bishop Lennon’s decision to close churches will escalate Cleveland’s descent into oblivion,” one man wrote. “In addition to serving as the last vestiges of a once-thriving ethnic culture in Cleveland, churches promoted a degree of stability and brought suburbanites back into the city, if only on Sundays.”
This story in Monday’s Plain Dealer highlights another problem: declining enrollment in parish schools.
Because of a consolidation plan that will reduce the Cleveland Catholic Diocese by 52 parishes, the article reports, many schools could face tough choices – or close all together.
“The closing of a parish doesn’t automatically mean its school will close as well, the story states. “But low enrollment – particularly in Cleveland and some inner-ring suburbs – is driving new rounds of discussion about mergers and closings.
Bishop Richard G. Lennon has already met with leaders of 13 schools on Cleveland’s East Side. Pastors and principals from 18 other schools were invited to a daylong session Friday.
All their parish clusters got the word in “reconfiguration letters” delivered March 14: They must give enrollment and finances a hard look and work together on consolidation plans, due by the end of October.”
Stay tuned for more on how this story develops…
Two cities in our region are hosting some big events this week with a national audience.
Detroit will welcome basketball fans for the NCAA Final Four. I wanted to share this column by one of my favorite Detroit writers, Bill McGraw:
In it, he shares his impressions of what someone coming to the city for the first time will see.
Also, Cleveland is hosting the induction ceremony for its Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This is a pretty big deal for the Cleve, as the ceremony usually – to the anger of many in Cleveland – takes place in New York City.
This article from The Plain Dealer talks about the week-long celebration:
I especially enjoyed the photo of Ohio
Hey northeast Ohioans, check out this cool feature from Cleveland Magazine.
It shows where all the Lenten fish fries are in the area:
Be sure you read the companion article about the ladies of St. Mary Romanian Orthodox Cathedral on Warren Road. I was salivating just reading about it!
The Urbanophile blog has aggregated and analyzed the results of the 2008 census, showing modest gains for regional winners Indianapolis and Columbus while reflecting continuing decline in Detroit and Cleveland.
The national story is that migration has slowed, the Urbanophile reports, but that is likely due to the strained economy offering fewer attractive distant positions and bringing home sales to a standstill.
Sun Belt cities, of course, lead the pack, with Austin and Charlotte topping the list. Meanwhile, Detroit and Cleveland he refers to as “basket-cases.” He notes however, that while Detroit’s population has “fallen off a cliff,” Cleveland’s population loss has leveled some.
It’s important to note that this is all pre-economic-apocalypse.
Anyway, check out the post, it’s loaded with neat charts and numbers!
Quite a bit has been written by the national media about how the foreclosure crisis has impacted Cleveland. Many of the stories focus on the Slavic Village neighborhood, as does this one.
This article from Sunday’s New York Times Magazine is one of the best, as far as I’m concerned.
It explains the second wave that is now hitting the city – investors who buy foreclosed properties for next to nothing and try to flip them
“Now outside investors have descended on Cleveland; they pick up properties for the price of a large flat-screen TV and then try to sell them for a profit.”
It also describes how entire neighborhoods are being destroyed.
“In the ensuing years, the city’s real estate was transformed into an Alice-in-Wonderland-like landscape. Local officials began keeping track of foreclosed homes by placing red dots on large wall maps. Some corners of the map, like Slavic Village, are now so packed with red dots they look like puddles of blood. The first question outsiders now ask is, Where has everyone gone?”
Author Alex Kotlowitz is well known for his great journalism on urban issues. He is the author of “There Are No Children Here,” a book about two young boys growing up in a Chicago housing project, as well as a number of other books and articles.
This story is on the long side, but well worth the read for anyone who wants to know how this issue could impact them and their home, and what the city is trying to do about this enormous problem.
I was able to read this online, but my friend had a hard time, I’m hoping this link will work.