Ohio City: Best of CLE Old & New!

by | Apr 25, 2017 | Neighborhoods & Housing

Tom McNair shows Ohio City info with the EA team.

Monday, 4/17/17 – For those of you who have lived in Northeast Ohio for a bit, you’ve probably visited Ohio City and enjoyed its plethora of appetizing restaurants and nightlife hot spots…or maybe you’ve stopped by the historic West Side Market, a European-styled market that draws approximately one million visitors per year. But, Ohio City is more than a local destination, it is home to over 9,000 residents and nine transit lines. It’s one of Cleveland’s most well-connected spots and a place that most newcomers (EA’s client base) quickly get to know.
Today, EA staffers spent most of the morning exploring one of Cleveland’s oldest neighborhoods on a walking tour with Tom McNair, the Executive Director of Ohio City Inc. A little bit about OCI…it is a $1.4M per year community development corporation with nine staffers and a passion for this historical community. Tom shared info on the many changes coming down the pipeline, including more than 1,800 residential units coming online within the next year to meet the rising demand for this neighborhood that is walkable to downtown.
Ohio City was founded in 1836 on the banks of the Cuyahoga River. Incorporated to Cleveland in 1854, it is the last vestige of the Connecticut Western Reserve. For our East Coast friends, you’ll definitely appreciate the historical East Coast city street “feel.” Ohio City’s street plan is not laid out on a grid, but instead offers many terminating vistas that add an aesthetic, architectural appeal to the neighborhood and make it feel cozy and inviting. Franklin Circle is the centerpiece of Ohio’s City’s radial street design. History and architecture buffs will love this neighborhood!

Rendering courtesy of Bialosky Partners Architects.

The boundaries are: W. 50th to the Cuyahoga River east to west and Lake Erie to the train tracks north to south. The neighborhood has three main commercial corridors that are full of opportunities – Detroit, Franklin, and Lorain. The unanimously approved conceptual plans for the Lorain Avenue Bikeway is an excellent example of an opportunity to improve both the aesthetic and functionality of an important street. Modeled after the super successful Indianapolis Cultural Trail, this $16M project would convert 2.25 miles of the four-lane avenue from W. 20th to W. 65th. The proposed design includes two lanes for vehicles, one lane for parking and bus stops, and a 10-foot strip separating traffic from bikes.
Also, Ohio City’s dilapidated Irishtown Bend on the Cuyahoga River is poised for a major overhaul through a partnership with the Port of Cleveland and LANDStudio.

Standing on top of Irish Town Bend.

Community forums to gather info are underway, as is a design team working to reimagine the crumbling hillside just north of the 6-acre Ohio City Farm. Stunning cityscape views will become evident later this year and links to the Towpath Trail and Lake Erie’s Whiskey Island will be created. Fundraising is already underway.
Cool city planning aside…Ohio City is an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse neighborhood. The demographic breakdown is 50% Caucasian, 34% African American, and about 23% Hispanic. Even though the poverty rate is about 39%, this is a neighborhood with over $300M in neighborhood investments in 30 years. Over 100 new businesses have opened in seven years. OCI is working to tackle missing retail needs with a retail consultant and entrepreneurs. OCI also provides storefront signage assistance to ensure that business can afford inviting and strong signage.
In 2012, a special improvement district was created to provide cleaning, maintenance, and safety services in Ohio City’s Market District. That program has since doubled in size and scope. Sidewalk snow removal services will begin next year. Ohio City strives to be one of Cleveland’s most walkable neighborhoods and is attracting new residents.

Touring the many historical homes.

Ohio City architecture is a blend of historic and modern. Housing is in demand and homes and rentals don’t sit on the market long as occupancy nears 90%. The goal is to develop without displacing Ohio City’s current residents. There are four historic districts in the neighborhood, many featuring gorgeous high Victorian architecture. The neighborhood includes multi-family homes and single family homes, both renovated and ready to be reimagined. Ohio City also has a Single Family Home program to help develop mixed-income single family housing…click here for more details – five prototype homes are currently on the market.
Here are a few housing developments to explore (all rentals).…

  • Brickhaus Towers: Andrew Brickman’s project on the foot of the Hope Memorial Bridge (corner of Lorain Avenue and W. 20th ) with over 500 total units as well as restaurants and retail.
  • 2500 Detroit: A $60M Snavely Group mixed-used development on the corner of W. 25th and Detroit (also will have apartments on the 2nd floor of the historic building on the southside of the street).
  • Mariner’s Watch: Sophisticated, eco-conscious rentals with great lake views.
  • West 25th Street Lofts: A group of buildings built in the late 1800’s that have been renovated into townhouse lofts featuring first class amenities. A mixture of historical architecture and contemporary design.
  • Project 29: New construction that will add over 160 apartments (above first floor retail) to Detroit near W. 29th.
  • And, anyone who has built a home from the ground up knows how frustrating it can be to deal with all the city departments, zoning appeals, and permitting involved. Ohio City has streamlined that for you by getting four architectural designs pre-approved through the City of Cleveland, which typically shaves 6-12 months off the process.

St. Ignatius High School.

OCI is working to ensure that Ohio City is a family-friendly place. The neighborhood is home to several parks…click here for a park map. One of OCI’s goals was to find ways to create good community interaction between the diverse populations. How do you pull people together? Baseball! OCI began a residential recreation league called Near West Recreation four years ago, and it now serves 1,000 kids. It is an equitable league with sliding fee scales. Any kid who wants to play can play. The league now includes: baseball, soccer, basketball, youth/adult/family bowling, youth/women’s boxing, volleyball, LEGO League, creative writing, and more.
Ohio City is home to several quality public, charter, and private schools, and child care services, including Urban Community School (K-8) and the prestigious St. Ignatius High School. The Music Settlement is also adding an Ohio City location set to open in summer 2017. Click here for more details regarding school options.
These anchors add to the employment base and 24/7 live, work, play neighborhood:

  • The West Side Market: Home to over 100 vendors of great ethnic diversity selling meats, fresh fruits and veggies, seafood, baked goods, etc. It’s been featured on both the Travel Channel and Food Network.
  • Cleveland Museum of Art’s Transformer Station
  • Lutheran Hospital (Cleveland Clinic): Specialty at this location is orthopedics, but they also have all the departments you’d expect, including primary care doctors.
  • St. Ignatius High School (see above)

Just a sampling of the businesses, events, and attractions that make a visit to Ohio City worthwhile…

Recently opened or to come in 2017 restaurants in Ohio City:

A few helpful resources…

Tom describes himself as a “former architect who loves urban planning” and shared lots of geeky factoids like how roads are named: If it is a “street” it runs north/south; “avenues” run east/west, a Grand Avenue is a “boulevard” (also east/west), a Place is an alley and runs north/south while Courts are alleys that run east/west and anything that is named Road is a diagonal. Who knew?!
Executive Arrangements spends one day a month off-site exploring a neighborhood or regional amenity in NE Ohio so that we can share the latest info with our clients who are relocating executives moving to Cleveland or Akron for a job. Let us know if we can help your organization attract and retain the best possible talent by connecting your recruits or transferring employees to all that our region has to offer.