Cleveland’s University Circle
Posted by Carol Coletta on November 21, 2008
Earlier this week I spoke to Cleveland University Circle's annual meeting. Chris Ronayne is doing an impressive job in leading this district full of extraordinary assets, including Case Western, Severance Hall, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the Botanical Gardens, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Clinic, and University Hospitals. The ambition is to make University Circle a world-class destination and premier urban district.
The term "premier urban district" started me thinking, "What does that really mean?" How do you know it when you see it?
Clearly, Cleveland's University Circle has a remarkable set of assets from which to build a premier district. The Cleveland Foundation is helping remake the physical design of the district to improve walkability (which it badly needs). That includes three new transit initiatives. Housing in the district is a priority for both organizations. Today housing is clearly lacking, although it is finally underway with some imaginative purchase and rental incentives. (And what's on the drawing board is blow you away, I'll-move-to-Cleveland-to-live-there impressive.) There is not much evidence yet of retail, but that is likely to follow with more housing and more walkability.
What is perhaps most significant is that Cleveland's civic community sees the new construction taking place among the Circle's anchor institutions and is determined to leverage that into a growing anchor neighborhood for the city with visibly unmistakable strengths. Chris believes that University Circle stands "on a world-class stage to deliver a world-class story of opportunity and investment in the only neighborhood of its kind in the world." That may be more ambition than reality today, but his point about the opportunity for University Circle is very real.
This is a district to watch.
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