For the Love of Cleveland: The Geography of Gentrification

People sit at picnic benches in front of a stage where panelists are speaking

Local student Rose Mlakar recaps last week’s “For the Love of Cleveland: The Geography of Gentrification” event at Cleveland Public Square in this guest blog:

Last week, the Cleveland Foundation, in partnership with The City Club of Cleveland, hosted the fourth forum in the “For the Love of Cleveland” series. People from all walks of life took time out of their day to gather in Public Square and discuss an important community topic: gentrification and development in our neighborhoods, with a focus on Cleveland’s Glenville and SoLo neighborhoods. The panel, moderated by ideastream’s Rick Jackson, included:  

  • Mordecai Cargill, Fund Development Manager, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress
  • Khrys Shefton, PMP, Director of Real Estate Development, Famicos Foundation
  • Julia Sieck, Chair of the South of Lorain (SoLo) Block Club and SoLo resident
  • Ben Trimble, Senior Director of Real Estate and Planning, Ohio City Incorporated

In the Glenville and SoLo neighborhoods, gentrification has been seen as a major topic of debate for the current residents, as well as for future homeowners. As old homes are renovated and more money is put into the area, property values are on the rise and the faces of these neighborhoods are changing. Current residents fear that the charm and simplicity of their old neighborhoods could be lost in new building plans. With growing home prices, the demographics of the community may also change. On the other hand, new investment can bring new life to the neighborhoods – including new amenities that benefit longtime residents.

The topic was not an easy one to discuss, and there were variances in opinions on both sides. Audience members were eager to ask questions of the panelists – both in-person and via social media. The panelists talked through each question from the audience, drawing examples from trends currently happening in their neighborhoods. Here are a few takeaways:

  • The location of neighborhoods like Glenville and SoLo is attractive to young professionals that work in Downtown Cleveland. As Cleveland grows, there will continue to be interest in developing and expanding urban neighborhoods.
  • New housing should add character to the community, and development should be inclusive. New housing stock should include affordable options.
  • Rising property values are significant. Many longtime residents say they wouldn’t be able to afford their homes if they were purchasing them in today’s market.
  • Fear of displacement was brought up, and it was noted that residents are given the option to ask the city for help maintaining their home to avoid displacement. 
  • Community engagement is difficult (but necessary) because everybody has different needs.
  • People that are moving out of their homes due to the change in their neighborhood could be missing out on new opportunities.
  • Some concerns arose about needing more safe community spaces for people to interact in these neighborhoods. There is an urgent need for inclusion of all people in the new communities. 
  • Urban planners must be sensitive to the community and leverage the needs of the areas.

The forum helped give people a greater sense of what community leaders are seeing for the future of Cleveland’s neighborhoods. 

For the Love of Cleveland forums lead up to the Cleveland Foundations’ Common Ground event July 30, which will convene residents from across Cuyahoga County to share a meal, connect and discuss what we can do together to create a more equitable and resilient Greater Cleveland. Explore the different Common Ground conversations and locations here, and register to attend this free community event!