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Local Matters

For the Love of Cleveland: It Takes a Neighborhood

Tuesday, July 18, 2017
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

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"You have to have a deep reverence for the power of citizens." – Jenny Spencer

Arguably, a neighborhood’s fate lies at the hands of its residents. An engaged citizenry can draw investment dollars, create a stable tax base, attract new residents and amenities, and limit the spread of crime. And yet, stimulating residents into action is a challenge for many neighborhoods.

Lee-Harvard boasts many of the city’s first citizen’s councils and neighborhood associations and is home to a multitude of parks, schools, and community service centers. Most of its residents have remained in Lee-Harvard for decades and high residential voter turnout and steadfast commitment to the neighborhood ensures low vacancy rates, lures new industrial investment upwards of $40 million, and through the collective lobbying efforts of the residents has kept liquor licenses out of the neighborhood.

Detroit-Shoreway’s revitalization was spurred, in part, by its residents. The Gordon Square Arcade was rehabilitated in 1980. Cleveland Public Theatre followed in 2006 and a new Capitol Theatre debuted in 2009. Buoyed by these efforts, local organizations and churches took the initiative to create a new Arts District master plan that featured a more walkable Detroit Avenue and better connections to the lakefront. As a result of this quick succession of development and redevelopment - largely pushed by citizens - the neighborhood made the national spotlight as part of LeBron James’ television show, Cleveland Hustles.

How did the residents of these two neighborhoods make such an impact? What can emerging neighborhoods learn from their success and the challenges the encountered along the way?

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