Coming or Going?

In July Scene magazine featured an article about the houses that needed to be demolished in Cleveland. As of July 2015 159,000 parcels of land in Cleveland have been evaluated from the street level.  That was about 25% of the properties.  The survey currently shows that about 8,000 structures in Cleveland will require demolition.  It is estimated that this is a $100 million problem. Of course, the number could go much higher when the survey is finished.

Rehabbing houses costs more than building new but either way, there is not a lot of interest from private investors to build or restore buildings in many blighted neighborhoods.  Often the houses are torn down and what is left is a vacant lot. To partly solve the problem the city has stepped in.

When I drive from our place to University Circle I pass a lot of new housing on both Cedar and Carnegie and some on Euclid as well.  I also see that the Opportunity Corridor is coming through to the Cleveland Clinic. The Forgotten Triangle will be getting new life and, for those of us who travel from University Circle to points south, the new boulevard will be a welcome addition. Most of this building is paid for through taxes and grants.

Some of those empty and abandoned houses in the triangle will be replaced with new housing and, hopefully, small businesses to support the neighborhoods.

Although the campus district, where we live, is not the same as those areas from 55th to 105 St, we live and work in an area that was long forgotten and neglected. Now our empty buildings are attracting interest from investors who want to convert these old factories and light commercial buildings to housing for students and others. Many people, including myself, have written about this resurgence before. Now people outside Ohio and outside the country are taking notice.  We talked with a building inspector who was busy inspecting part of 500 houses in a neglected part of Cleveland. Why? Middle Easterners have bought up the houses and are going to resell them.

So while more than 8,000+ houses in our city need to be removed, many are being saved and rehabbed and whole neighborhoods are coming back.

 

Making steel

Making steel

In another observation about the growth, Dave and I recently went on a water taxi ride on the Cuyahoga River from Merwin’s Wharf south to the last stationery bridge where the river is no longer dredged. I was heartened to see all the working factories and river traffic. The taxi is owned and operated by Cleveland Metroparks.  Someday, after I90 is completed the water taxi will travel north and ferry people from one side of the river to the other. (I’m not sure why this is a Metropark enterprise and not a private enterprise).

Like many Clevelanders, I had no idea that there was much heavy industry left in our city along the river. Somehow I thought most of our steel and cement was manufactured in Southeast Asia and shipped here. Maybe it still is. But, by gosh, there were huge cranes moving ore, and piles of sand, gravel, and salt piled up along the banks, and even boat houses for sculls and their crews. It’s not just restaurants, clubs, and bars along our river.

 

When the Republican debate was here the before debate TV coverage showed Cleveland as a “Tale of Two Cities.” If you look hard enough, that is true of every city. There is always a “wrong side of the tracks.” But I guess I’m a glass half full kind of gal. I see Cleveland as a city of young hopeful people with lots of ideas and ability to take some risk. But there are generations of people who have lived here forever who are also supporting these changes even through controversy.  Hooray for their vision.

 

I’ve been at the beach several times. The best beach for clear water has been Mentor Headlands State Park. The drawback? You have to walk across about 10 feet of baseball sized rocks to the water’s edge then another six feet of rocks underwater, then sand! By then you are up to your neck and the waves are rolling into your face. Still you don’t have the rocks and debris at water’s edge at Edgewater Park.

Greg in front of sand sculpture

Greg in front of sand sculpture

 

With my joints wearing out, I’ve gone to a more upright position on my bike. I took my Cannondale road bike to Joy Machine Bikes and got a handlebar that is closer to my body and allows me to sit more upright. This is perfectly fine for the riding I do on the towpath in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

 

Walnut Wednesdays are still popular. There are about 20 food trucks that pull up along 3 sides of Ralph Perk Plaza . You can sit on the grass under the shade to eat your burger or burrito. We’ve had a mild summer so far and being outdoors has been a pleasure despite more bugs in the woods.

Slide the City came to Akron. It missed Cleveland due to bad weather. This is a giant water slide with 3 lanes. Participants must register ahead of time and get a backpack with a blow up float ring and a mouth guard. In Akron the slide started at Broadway and went downhill two blocks to Main Street. Most people signed up to slide 3 times. It was a perfect day to be wet. It was 88 degrees.

Slide the City Akron

Slide the City Akron

 

For our 15h anniversary Dave and I hosted 15 friends and family on the Cleveland Cycle Tours. It was a two mile trip that lasted 2 hours and had 3 stops at restaurants in Ohio City. You can read about that in my Neighborhood Series. It’s a really fun activity for those sunny days but be sure to reserve ahead of time.

Trainwreck

Trainwreck

Summer movies are a favorite type of escapism for me. We’ve seen Mad Max, Fury Road, Jurassic World, Trainwreck, and The Young and Prodigious TS Spivet. Another escape: reading. I’ve read and listened to lots of books this summer and I recommend  Euphoria by Lily King, Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, and In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides.

Night Market

Night Market

We added a new venue to our summer festival spots. It is only one block away on Rockwell. It’s called the Night Market and features LOTS of food, favoring Asian flavors. It happens once a month on the first Friday night.

 

There is still lots of summer left. I still haven’t been to a ball game yet. Hummmmm. Maybe that will be next.

 

 

 

 

 

If you come to Cleveland for more than a day, you’ll probably hit Ohio City. It is close to downtown and certainly is one of two big entertainment districts in the city. We’ve been there many times. In fact, we probably either stop there or drive through at least once a week.

This time, however, we visited a small part of Ohio City in an unusual way. For our 15th anniversary we reserved a two hour tour with Cleveland Cycle Tours. There were 15 friends and family (one for each year of marriage) who met us at their garage on Columbus Avenue.The group before Johnny Mango

Adam, our driver, greeted Dave and me.  He was waiting for the bike cart to return. Soon we heard music and laughter coming around the corner and then it turned into the driveway. Ten giggling, sweating young women, all wearing the same T Shirts, got off. It was a bachelorette party.

Once they cleared out, the cart was pushed/pulled back out onto the road and we were on our way. Three people sat across the back and the rest of us pedaled. Let’s just be clear. We were going very slowly. Walkers were keeping us with us.

We realized we were minor celebrities when we turned west onto Abbey Avenue. Cars were creeping by and taking pictures. People were waving. Drivers stuck behind us were cursing. Our 70’s themed music kept us on pace and happy. I got out the Viking chant and started yelling “Faster, Faster!”

Soon we were on Lorain Ave alongside the West Side Market. It was Saturday so the market was open and, even at 4 in the afternoon, still was busy.

West Side Market

West Side Market

The West Side Market is the center of activity in Ohio City. It is rated one of the best markets in the world and it’s a great place to shop for meat, cheese, bread, pastries, spices, and produce of all kinds. You can also get lunch there and eat in the balcony or outside in the alley.

We continued on Lorain and past St Ignatius High School then turned the corner and ended up on Bridge Street. Adam pulled over, instructed us to walk to the end of the block, and get our first drink at Johnny Mango’s. That’s right. There is lots of beer flowing during this two mile excursion.  But Johnny Mango is known for organic juice drinks and that’s what I got.

Bridge Street is one of the streets that has been heavily restored. There are many two story Victorian and Queen Anne style homes with lots of tall trees offering shade. Just painting the outside of these places requires money, patience and skill. There are porches, old wooden windows, lattice work, and eaves- often of two to three colors. It’s charming and a popular place to live.

Ohio City restoration

Ohio City restoration

After leaving Johnny Mango’s, we turned toward West 25th. This may be all many tourists see of Ohio City. There are dozens of restaurants here. They represent many ethnicities and price ranges.  Many have cropped up in the last 10 years. Just when you think there can be no more room for more, another one moves in to a restored hardware store or wig shop. Last year the big hit was Mitchell’s Ice Cream.  It moved into an old theater.

Now we were heading for Nano Brew. Adam pulled over on Jay Street and parked. After only pedaling for 15 minutes we had another 20 minute break for —– MORE BEER! This time I went for orange juice over ice.  At 85 degrees outside, I was drinking fluids like a fiend and still didn’t need to pee.  Nano Brew has its own beer and everyone was sampling except my grand niece Libby. She’s pregnant and, yippee, the designated driver for her husband and two friends.

No butts about it, big fun

No butts about it, big fun

When that intermission was over we were back on the cart and heading down Jay Street. It’s another gem of lovingly restored homes. With all this gentrification, you can imagine that house prices have skyrocketed. You would be right. All this charm comes at a price. You are near bars, restaurants, and a grocery store, but you are also near late night partying people and very little parking. Residents in both Ohio City and Tremont complain that people park in front of, on in, their driveways. They are loud and rude after drinking a lot and they even use the front lawns when they should be using a toilet.

At any rate, on this afternoon, we saw none of that. We literally rounded the corner and stopped again. This time it was at Great Lakes Brew.

Everyone in NE Ohio has heard of Great Lakes Beer. It was 5pm and the Saturday night visitors were out. Tables were filled, people were filing in. We ended up in the pub in the basement.  Now I had my first cold beer and felt it was a prelude to dinner.  I got to catch up with everyone at some point along the way but I especially wanted to catch up with Cousin Judy Sterling and her husband Mike Eisman who were coming through Ohio on their way across the country from California. Our time together wasn’t long enough.

Cousins Mike and Judy

Cousins Mike and Judy

Back out in the heat and onto the curb, we remounted our cycles for the last time.  We retraced our route on Lorain, Abbey, and Columbus and made a gallant attempt at ramming speed when we turned into the driveway at the garage.

All that drinking worked up our appetite for dinner around the corner at the University Inn. But that was in Tremont- the rival next door neighbor to Ohio City.