University Circle forges ahead: editorial
Posted November 25, 2011 in Articles
Author: Editorial Board, The Plain Dealer
This will be a busy weekend at University Circle as Clevelanders squeeze in a little culture between meals and show off the city's treasures to out-of-town guests. Next weekend brings the 18th annual Holiday CircleFest and the return of outdoor skating on Wade Oval.
But as important as those events are in terms of driving visitors to the Circle's museums and restaurants and reinforcing its status as a key tourism destination, they only scratch the surface of the district's importance.
The Circle's medical and educational institutions are huge and growing employers. According to University Circle Inc. President Chris Ronayne, the neighborhood has averaged 1,000 new jobs per year for the past five years, even in a massive recession.
The clustered creativity at University Circle is helping to define -- and, in some cases, to invent -- the region's future economy.
UCI itself has transformed from a land bank and provider of some shared services to a more comprehensive development group directly involved in projects -- including housing and a hotel -- some beyond the traditional boundaries of the Circle. UCI has begun working with neighborhood development groups in Glenville and Little Italy to augment their capacity and with the city of East Cleveland on residential development. It's partnered with Fairfax Renaissance Development Corp. to lobby for the Opportunity Corridor.
Such cooperation is not only vital in an era of tight budgets, it also represents a smart model of development. For all its obvious problems, Cleveland has some truly healthy neighborhoods. The trick is to expand these nodes to a scale that triggers more investment and more opportunity for everyone.
Inventive community-building isn't something you can show off to the relatives like, say, the Cleveland Botanical Garden's holiday gingerbread houses. But it is the path to a stronger city.