Berea, OH- Home to Baldwin Wallace University and lots of History

I include pre-WII development of Berea in this evaluation using Eastland Rd as the eastern border, the bottom of Coe Lake Park as the southern, Valley Parkway as the western, and the railroad as the northern border.

Berea was established in 1836 when educator John Baldwin joined forces with 2  Methodist circuit preachers to form an ideal Christian community. The town’s name was divinely decided by a flip of a coin between Tabor and Berea. The utopian Christian community didn’t last long but Baldwin tried to create Lyceum  Seminary instead. At same time Baldwin started making grindstones from sandstone in the nearby creek bed of the Rocky River and a quarrying industry arose in Berea. In 1845, Baldwin created an innovated new school, providing education to all, regardless of sex, race, religious creed, or ability to pay. It was renamed Baldwin University. In 1913, the current name Baldwin-Wallace University was established after the merger of two schools. Since then the town of Berea  has slowly grown around the college starting as a satellite community of Cleveland and eventually becoming a fully connected suburb after WW II.  Berea now hosts the Brown’s training facility and the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds.

Berea’s central biz district is located at Front and Center St. This is close to the heart of the Historic Balwin-Wallace Campus and the Berea Quarry (now Coe Lake). Attractive late 19th and early 20th century homes are nearby as well. Berea excels with plentiful affordable for-sale hsg, a safety, great park amenities, and decent cultural and retail amenities. To become a great urban community it needs more density, better transit access to dwtn, more walkable schools, more rental options, better bike infrastructure, and more mixed-use buildings along Front Street. 

Click here to view my album on Flickr

URBAN STRENTHS:

* Pretty good ADA infrastructure.
* Great economic diversity thanks to the large student population.
* For sale hsg is very affordable in Berea. Several condos bldgs where 1-beds sell btwn 50K and the low 100Ks. 2-bed sell btwn 100K-200K. 3 & 4 beds btwn 100K- the low 300Ks.
* Great tree canopy.
* Great park amenities including the Berea Recreation Center, the extensive Metro Park Trails, Lake Abraham Metro Reserve, Coe Lake, Baldin Creek trails, and green space on Baldin Wallace’s Quads.
* This a very safe community.
* Decent cultural amenities with several restaurants, cafes, and bars, a local arts center, a couple local museums, and the vibrant music program at Baldin Wallace.
* Decent retail amenities as Dwtn Berea host a supermarket, a couple drug stores, a handful of boutiques and home good stores, a couple banks, a dwtn library & post office, several dessert joints, a couple gyms, several churches, a couple doctor offices, and good access to Southwest General just east of Dwtn.
* Good historic architecture with lots of attractive homes from the late 1800s, historic University bldgs, and some good early 20th architecture in the biz district.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Poor density.
* Pretty convenient drive to Dwtn but poor transit connection. It takes about 1 hr. to take the bus into dwtn.
* Overall transit connection is pretty poor in Berea.
* Nice bike lanes along the Metroparks but none on City streets.
* Limited racial diversity and esp. family diversity as much of the population is students.
* Only a high school and Catholic grade school are located within Dwtn Berea. 2 other schools are semi walkable in the more suburban half of Berea. Also schools are rated well.
* Not sure where all the students live but rentals are very limited but inexpensive. Few 1-beds available. 2 & 3 beds lease in the 1Ks.
* Good ped activity in Baldin Wallace and around Coe Lake but pretty limited elsewhere.
* Not much urban in-fill but a decent mixed-use bldg and several 1960s in-fill condos and townhouses. Also some unattractive auto centric in-fill.
* Some good urban massing at the core Biz district at Front and Center. But the rest of Front and Bagley are a mixed-bag and often pretty desolate.

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