I recently "stumbled" across an interesting organization many of you might be familiar with: Artspace. Artspace is a way to bring the "creative" class to an area through transforming abandoned and/or affordable spaces into art galleries and studios. This idea is all about artists who are willing to venture into an area where no one else will and risk their time and energy by investing into an area that has no other investment. What often happens is with time, the neighborhood appreciates and ultimately, the rent prices go up and force the artist community away. This very concept is happening in the Gordon Arts District. It is called the SoHo Effect.
The Twin Cities-based organization has pioneered what sounds like the ultimate niche idea: It’s a nonprofit real estate developer for artists. In other words, it assures the artist that their rent will not go up because they are the real estate developer. They plan and develop the building / warehouse to accommodate their needs.
Many artists gravitate to old warehouses and other industrial buildings, but their very presence in an industrial neighborhood often acts as a catalyst, setting in motion a process of gentrification that drives rents up and forces the artists out.
This idea of an arts district as a catalyst is similar to a project that i'm working on now in the East Cleveland area (on Kinsman Rd). So the underlying question is....
Would this kind of idea work in Cleveland?
Lets look at this case study example, obtained from an article about Artspace:
"On the edge of downtown St. Paul, Lowertown was long a hub for railroad warehouses. If you wandered into the area 20 years ago, there was sort of a feeling that you fell off a cliff.” Few people lived there and most of the buildings were empty. The Northern Warehouse had been built for the Northern Pacific Railroad. In the ‘80s, the bottom two floors were still occasionally used by arts organizations. But the top four floors were uninhabitable after the roof caved in. When Artspace eyed the property in the late ‘80s, those top floors had been vacant for 20 years.
Artspace converted the building into 52 live/work loft spaces for artists, with complimentary commercial space on the first two floors. The project was financed with a mix of historic and low-income housing credits, private investment and philanthropy grants. As a result, the building’s mortgage is so low that Artspace can charge tenants well below market rate. To qualify to live and work here, artists must make less than 60% of the area median income. Rents range from about $500 to $1,000, depending on income, for spaces as large as 1,600 square feet. When Artspace recently commissioned a study of the area, market rate for a two-bedroom in now-booming Lowertown was $1,300 a month.
“I’m not sure [Springboard] would still be around if we didn’t have this space,” Zabel says. Her organization, which is about to expand, pays $1,100 a month for 2,200 square feet. This is a common refrain throughout the building. “I’d probably be nowhere,” says painter Matthew Rucker, who estimates that he makes 90% of his annual income during the two weekends a year when the Northern Warehouse hosts an art crawl. “I can honestly say that I owe almost all of my current success to living in this building.”
Cleveland is full of warehouses and old industrial buildings. We have a growing arts community in Ohio City and the Detroit Shoreway Neighborhood. We host many Arts Festivals every year and numerous art galleries and studio spaces can be found in Cleveland. However, it is hard to invest into a property unless your business is thriving, especially when you are an artist. That is why we need Artspace to look at Cleveland. Invest in properties where the values are low. I can think of many East side examples (Kinsman rd. is the first thing that comes to my mind) but one thing is for sure: create the space and the hype and the people will follow.
The website I have been working on for the Detroit-Superior Bridge Project is now live! Check it out here. The website is organized so that the bridge can be navigated based on regions. There are five regions that make up the Bridge. The website was designed in InDesign with help from Jeffery Kruth and David Jurca from Cleveland's Urban Design Collaborative.
I've been working on a project with the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative to transform the Detroit-Superior Bridge into a more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly area on the lower level of the bridge. This past weekend, we hosted an open house event in which we encouraged participants to provide us with feedback and ideas for what the lower level of the bridge could be...
What do you think the lower level of the bridge should feature?
So what is the Detroit-Superior Bridge?
"The Detroit–Superior Bridge (officially known as the Veterans Memorial Bridge) is a 3,112 foot (949 meter) long through arch bridge over the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio. The bridge links Detroit Avenue on Cleveland's west side and Superior Avenue on Cleveland's east side, terminating west of Public Square. Construction by the King Bridge Company began in 1914 and completed in 1918, at a cost of $5.4 million. It was the first fixed high level bridge in Cleveland, and the third high level bridge above the Cuyahoga (the first was the Old Superior Viaduct and the second the Central Viaduct, also built by the King Company). At its completion, the bridge was the largest steel and concrete reinforced bridge in the world."
I believe that this project has the ability to transform the city of Cleveland into a more livable community. It would help link Cleveland with Lakewood and encourage bicycle traffic.
There has been much talk lately about the 'rebound' of Cleveland and whether or not, for the first time in years, Cleveland is in a position to experience real growth. Like many other rustbelt cities, Cleveland has been struggling to grow, especially in its metropolitan region, since the decline of the manufacturing era in the United States. In case you aren't aware of some of the most recent happenings in downtown Cleveland, let me encourage you to read on. But first, you may find it hard to believe that Cleveland may actually be heading towards a new era of growth. Take a look at some of the recent publicity Cleveland has been receiving:
Case Western Reserve University
So what exactly is causing this recent boom in Cleveland growth? It is our generation of individuals--known as the Millennials, that choose to live in the city over the suburbs any day of the week. We want a place with activity, people, interaction, and entertainment. Get me out of the car and into the streets! Take a look at some of the bigger things happening:
1.) Cleveland Medical Mart and Convention Center
2.) Cleveland Casino
3.) Flats East Bank
In addition to these large developments in Cleveland, there are also many other things that can contribute to this new "rebound" in Cleveland. How about the Cleveland Clinic? Their new masterplan developed by Foster + Partners is nothing short of something you would see happening in NYC.
There is a renewed growth of businesses in downtown. " Housing is at 96% capacity and growing (Most of whom are 22-24 year olds). In the last few years alone Rosetta, Dwellworks, MCPc, AmTrust Financial (bringing up to 1,000 jobs downtown), radio station WCLV, Howard Hanna Real Estate, The Payne Firm, IdeaStream Consumer Products (not related to the local Public Broadcasting "Ideastream," which moved to downtown Cleveland from the suburbs in 2003), Mitchell's Ice Cream,Britton Gallagher, and ESPN Cleveland, among others, have moved to the city from the suburbs. This shows momentum and a changing of attitudes in the region."
Not to mention the new CSU masterplan finally showing its potential, the growth of the Cleveland film industry, the new Cleveland Aquarium, the new Cleveland Museum of Modern Art, and the new Rock and Roll Walk of Fame which just opened yesterday...
An interesting note from Rustwire.com:
"Everyone attributes young people moving away from this area because of lack of opportunity. I attribute it to lack of good leadership and hope for a better region because of that deficiency. When you have the right people in charge of a place, young people will stay and take chances, hoping to stay near their families. When they inherently feel like the leadership of a place is making decisions that destabilize their future prospects, they leave. No one wants to talk about that as a factor in brain drain. All they want to attribute it to is lack of job opportunity instead of lack of openness to new ideas for different kinds of economies and industries."
I couldn't agree more with this. I'm a leaving example of this. I am leaving Cleveland after I graduate because, simply put, there is no opportunity here for me. More significantly, I don't see Cleveland as a place where the people are willing to embrace change.
However, there is a different side to this argument. That is... taking a bad situation and making it something good. With a shrinking city like Cleveland, it might inspire an urban designer to stay here to make it better. With that in mind, i'm not quite sure if I want to be the leader or follower...
A simple observation of Cleveland THEN: dominated by the railway, the industry, the harbor, and downtown VS. NOW: dominated by the roads and highways, the districts, the landmarks: Browns Stadium and Progressive Field, and the boundaries.
This week in studio we focused on transportation as an urban system. We conducted several analysis/research/mapping investigations in which we analyzed the various forms of transportation: vehicular, pedestrian, bus transit, ship/boat, and plane. To begin my analysis, I conducted a site visit to the West side of Cleveland. I documented Vehicular and Pedestrian traffic and circulation patterns.
From here, we were able to determine a hypothesis. I focused on vehicular traffic. As a result of the site visit, I began mapping traffic densities. I used the Cleveland Traffic Report as my resource.
I conducted further research on street construction because I believe it is important to know the cost and type of resources/labor/materials that goes into streets and highways. I found a lot of information on Concrete vs. Asphalt. In general, I tried to focus on the benefits of using concrete vs. asphalt.
As a studio, we decided to focus on the city of Lakewood and how we could address Transit Oriented Design (TOD). We focused on minimizing the use of cars and instead proposing an alternative public transportation solution (bike, bus, train). First, we conducted research on the various systems in Lakewood. We determined the guidelines for TOD and presented precedents in class. I chose to focus on points of interest in Lakewood. More information to come next week.
Brandon E. Young