Cleveland On The Move

Some observations about our city:

Opportunity Corridor

Opportunity Corridor

Opportunity Corridor

 

As a relatively new Cleveland resident, I had not heard of the Opportunity Corridor until last week. This is a boulevard that would go from West 55th and I 490 diagonally cutting through several neighborhoods. It would end at Chester St in University Circle. Having travelled from University Circle to points east, west, and south, I understand the need for better ways to “get out of Dodge.” Right now we are stuck with going up Mayfield or Cedar to get to points east and south OR going north on MLK Blvd. to get onto I90 to go to points west. Traversing Euclid, Carnegie, or Chester (another choice for going west) is a slow process. In the 4.5 miles from our place to my gym in University Circle, there are 27 lights and it takes about 20 minutes during non rush hour periods.

People are coming around to the idea of the Opportunity Corridor. While some houses would be demolished in the process and some roads dead-ended, this would revitalize the “forgotten triangle” in neighborhoods like Fairfax and Slavic Village.  The 13 streets it would intersect would have traffic lights and regulate flow so people would easily access businesses along the route. I know that I would use this corridor to go south. Historically, there are some cheap gas stations over there and it would be easier, and probably safer, to get there once the corridor is finished. New businesses would crop up in vacant buildings and “brown fields.” A whole new area of Cleveland could be open for business once again.

Cleveland Convention Center

Cleveland Convention Center

Cleveland Convention Center

The Cleveland Convention Center is open. There was an open house yesterday. As expected, it is huge. There is a big grand ballroom off a lobby that looks down over the train track and out to the lake. There is a good view of the stadium, Great Lakes Science Center and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. When in the vast exhibit hall, there are easy ways to connect to the Public Auditorium and additional meeting rooms. And on the west side is a big “Global Center” where there are offices and meeting rooms. There were a lot of regional health organizations there yesterday giving away little freebies, demonstrating CPR, and imparting information about what is available or coming to the area.

Outside, the center is covered with green space and seating. Walking around, you get to see how all the planning has come together. A visitor has accessible parking and hotels (somehow I got the feeling that there was not enough of either), and closeness to City Hall, the stadium, Tower City, the library, and lots of civic buildings.

There is talk about Cleveland making a bid for a national political convention due, in part, to the new convention center. The problem in the past was the unavailability of hotel rooms. Heck, if Cleveland gets a convention, we’d turn over our bed to the highest bidder. We are only 20 blocks and a free trolley ride away.

Road Construction

The Captain America filming is finally over and the shore way is open. Now the letters to the editor are appearing from the people who commuted during the “big headache.” It’s no surprise the disruption was not popular. People from the west side were making 60-minute commutes to work. This was hampered by the fact that Cleveland decided to do a lot of road repair at the same time as the filming. If it wasn’t bad enough to have the east/west shore way closed, many of the north/south routes were either closed or down to one lane due to tearing up the roads.

Cops were directing traffic. Some of them were downright dangerous due to the fact that you couldn’t tell if you were to move, turn, or stop. Some were lethargically moving a wrist and, at the other extreme, some were turning the job into grand theater.

Around us, there are new apartments and retail spaces being built to be in close proximity to Cleveland State. This means there are fences out in the road, streets blocked off, and ditches in the streets where people are laying digital fiber optic lines. I get grouchy. It’s bad enough dodging potholes and inching over frost heave “speed bumps,” now I have to avoid whole streets because of exposed sewer heads that want to take out my tires.

As the movie crew was packing up and leaving town today they told me they paid $19,000,000 to film in our town. They hoped all of it would be used to repair the roads. I assured them that wouldn’t happen. I’m sure the money will be used for cops to direct traffic around the casino or  maybe the chandelier going up in Playhouse Square.

Harrumph!

Pitch Night

It’s not what you think (as in pitch dark). This event took place in the practice gym of the Cleveland Cavalier’s at the Q. Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cavs, helps support entrepreneurs in the region by investing in the best of them.  He encourages Bizdom, which is an organization that mentors these ambitious idea makers with coaching, advice, and seed money, and allows the brightest stars to get some start up money.

Last week Dave and I went to an event that helped 16 people get a 3-minute practice session to “pitch” their idea.  (By the way, the “heavy horderves” were wonderful.) There was a wide range of innovative concepts. One young woman wanted to be chosen for her idea of a gasoline driven eco bike that could go up to 20mph and could easily be refueled. Another person wanted to help police train, in real time, how to confront violent people. His idea was that the training could change instantly depending on how the criminal, the victim, or the police behaved.

My favorite idea came from a Case civil engineering student and his team who developed a small magnetic device that could be used to detect malaria. This was revolutionary because the device did not need refrigeration, was very accurate, and portable. Of course, it had the potential to save thousands of lives in places like the remotest parts of Africa.  Not only was his idea the best but it also helped that he had darling dimples and was confidant enough to dress in khakis instead of the, currently popular faded and unpressed jeans.

It’s good to know that Clevelanders are interested in innovation and also worthwhile noting that we don’t have to look to Silicon Valley to find our future.