- John Polk said “I knew Charles when he was EVP of The Atlanta Chamber and I worked for ...” on Memories of Oklahoma City circa 1993
- John Polk said “Back in the mid-80's and early 90's, Cleveland was actually recognized as one of the ...” on Economic development in NEO: A view from the street-level
- John Polk said “Is there any way to substantiate Dimora's claim re: GCP and the PD, other than ...” on Cleveland’s new development dynamic?
- George Nemeth said “Like all glimmers of newness in CLE+ I expect this one to be crushed too” on Cleveland’s new development dynamic?
- Cleveland’s new development dynamic? | Brewed Fresh Daily said “[...] by Ohio voters, as gambling interests convert the Ohio constitution into a zoning ordinance. ...” on Ohio’s casino deal gets a bit more messy
- About BDP Comments
Anyone who loves the prospect of a Cleveland reborn should read Steven Litt’s article today.
James Corner, one of the nation’s leading landscape architects, sees a huge potential to turn the 10-acre space at the heart of downtown into an iconic destination on par with Chicago’s Millennium Park. He wants to see the square filled with people strolling, sunning, picnicking or relishing public art, concerts, gardens or outdoor markets.
At the behest of two nonprofit organizations, Parkworks and the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, Corner has come up with three radical and highly inventive plans for the square…
Corner’s work is excellent. The quality far exceeds anything proposed for the casino or the medical mart so far. And it cost a relative pittance. Corner’s team has been paid $66,000 in money from the Downtown Cleveland Alliance and the John P. Murphy Foundation. Corner also collaborated with members of Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, or CUDC, including Teresa Schwarz and Christopher Diehl.
Re-imagining Cleveland’s Public Square
The struggles of Cleveland’s civic leadership to develop the convention center and med mart have reached comic elevations. Re-imagining Public Square comes along at just the right time. The initiative may help Cleveland’s leadership find a less costly and more productive path to get complex projects done in the “civic space”.
Every city must transform itself to meet the new demands of global competition. This transformation requires a simple, clear strategy. This strategy, in turn, will only emerge from a civic process that is both authentic and transparent.
Put aside the issue of vision for a moment. What Cleveland needs more than anything right now is coherence.
We know this much:
The future of cities in the global economy will likely depend on how well they can reshape themselves around a future of creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation. (See, for example, Brisbane’s strategy.) Transformation strategies are complex, and they require networks to link and leverage assets, (See Sean Stafford’s book Why the Garden Club Could not Save Youngstown) Cleveland (like other Midwestern cities), is shrinking. We need fundamentally new approaches reshaping these shrinking cities. (see Richard Longworth’s recent blog post. Longworth is author of Caught in the Middle, which is required reading in Milwaukee.)
Cleveland’s challenge is real and not trivial. How does the civic leadership design a creative hot spot with a shrinking city? Or, as the folks in Youngstown are exploring, how do you focus the creative power of a shrinking city?
Cleveland’s current downtown development is driven by projects, not strategy. Cleveland’s leadership has failed to articulate a clearly defined strategy of transformation (or, as the foundations often demand, a “theory of change“).
We have only disconnected, big projects. (The current siting proposal for the med mart shows how project considerations trump any sense of a broader strategy of transformation.)
Maybe, just maybe, by focusing on a 10 acre public space (where there’s little incentive for Cleveland’s developers to distort the process), Cleveland’s leadership can develop new skills at designing and implementing a simple, productive civic process for making complex public investments.
Last 5 posts by Ed Morrison
- Signing off - February 3rd, 2012
- "The current global development model is unsustainable" - February 1st, 2012
- Market opportunities for developing Chicago's green economy - January 29th, 2012
- Plain Dealer flubs its explanation for firing Tony Grossi - January 27th, 2012
- Linking and leveraging university assets to strengthen regional economies - January 27th, 2012