Maumee, OH- Historic Toledo suburb near the Battle of Fallen Timbers

In general I included in this evaluation the pre-WWII fabric between Anthony Wayne Trail and the Maumee River.

Maumee is the site of Gen. “Mad” Anthony Wayne’s final fort, Fort Deposit, built in Aug. 1794 on his way to the battle of Fallen Timbers. Shortly after the war of 1812 a town plat was laid out at the begin of the Maumee River rapids and within a decade, the Maumee was gaining recognition as a major trans-shipment point connecting Lake Erie and lands to the west. The town quickly reached 840 residents by 1840. Yet dreams of greatness began to fade in the 1850s, when ships too large to navigate the river were introduced for use and railroads began to replace water transport. The town stagnated and only grew to 1,856 residents by 1900. The City did start to see steady growth in the early 20th century growing to 3,100 by 1920 and 4,600 in 1940. But it took its integration into Toledo’s outer belt system to really propel its growth. Maumee reached 15,747 in 1970 and  has slowly lost residents since then.

Similar to Perrysburg, Maumee has a compact main street running along a couple blocks Conant St. surrounded by several blocks of 19th century historic home. Its pre-WII fabric then sprawls out to the east more or less following the Maumee River. Central Maumee’s greatest assets are its park amenities, quality walkable schools, compact & attractive main street, tree canopy, and affordable for-sale housing. It lacks quality public transit and bike infrastructure, a central supermarket, racial diversity, and could use significantly more rental options and housing in general as Maumee’s density is very low.

Click here to view my Maumee album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* ADA Curbs- Generally good but some spots without ADA current curbs and a couple spots without sidewalks.
* Generally good connectivity but plenty of dead ends and disconnected blocks.
* This is a very safe City and consistantly on the top of most safe cities in Ohio.
* Excellent generational diversity with a high % of households with kids. Decent economic diversity.
* Very attractive historic architecture in Dwtn and in the core residential areas.
* Overall very good tree canopy.
* Cultural amenities are modest including a couple restaurants & bars, several cafes & art galleries, the Historic Maumee Theater, and the Wolcott House musem.
* Also modest retail amenities including a drug store, a dollar store, a couple of boutiques, a couple home good stores, several banks, a florist, several dessert joints and gyms,  and a dwtn public library.
* Great park access including several small parks, the mediun size Tow Path Park and River walk, and the expansive Side Cut Metropark.
* Good walkable schools options including quality k-12 public school options and a Catholic grade school.
* Lots of affordable & modest for-sale hsg option including some 1-bed homes selling in the low 100ks, 2-bed selling anywhere btwn 100K- the low 300Ks, 3 & 4 beds btwn 150K-400K.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Pretty poor transit access.
* Poor density. More in-line with a suburb.
* While there are limited transit options to Dwtn it is only a 18 minutes drive. One can bike it along River Road in about 50 mins.
* Some bike lanes connecting Dwtn to the metro parks but really nothing else bike infrastructurewise.
* Poor racial diversity.
* Some half decent urban infill along Conant St but plenty of crummy auto centric bldgs along Anthony Wayne Trail.
* No supermarket nor post office Dwtn.
* Rental hsg is modestly priced but very limited.

Perrysburg, OH- Historic Toledo suburb and home to Fort Meigs

The evaluation area includes Boundary Streets to the west and east, 7th St to the south and the Maumee River to the north.

By the War of 1812 Perrysburg was a settlement of 67 families. The town quickly grew to 1,000 in 1840 and served as the county seat from 1822 to 1868. Things remained pretty unchanged in the 19th century with the population only reaching 1,766 by 1900. The town’s population steadily grew in the early 20th century reaching 2,400 by 1920 and 3,457 in 1940. Perrysburg’s population really took off after 1960 with suburban sprawl and its connection highway connection to I-75. At this points Perrysburg became integrated into the Toledo metro and the City now has 25K souls.

Fortunately historic Perrsyburg has retained its charm and is in-tact. This includes an attractive several block main street along Louisiana Ave, the Perrysburg Historic District along the Maumee River including lots of great 19th century housing, and many blocks of attractive early 20th century housing. Perrysburg also has excellent schools, quality ADA infrastructure, lots of moderately priced housing, and decent cultural, retail, and park amenities. For Perrysburg to become a great urban environment it needs more density and housing. I sense a fair amount of exclusivity here as there are few residents living in poverty and very limited rental options. Perrysburg also needs better public transit and bike connections.

Click here to view my Perrysburg, OH album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Generally very good ADA and sidewalk infrastructure.
* Quality tree canopy.

* Connectivity is good an even includes a couple diagonal roads.
* High number of households with families.
* Lots of quality walkable schools in the core of Perrysburg, both private and public options. High schools is unfortunately located on the edge of town.
* Good range of for-sale housing. A handful of 1-bed options selling in the low-mid 100Ks, 2-beds btwn 150K-250K, 3 & 4 beds 175K-500K with some of the mansion selling in 600 & 700Ks.
* This is a very safe community.
* Decent # of bars & restaurants along Louisiana Ave (Main St), a local brewery, and a couple of cafes. Also a couple of art galleries. The Fort Meigs Historic Site is located just outside the historic core.
* Decent park amenities with a couple nice riverfront parks and the expansive Woodland Park on the Eastern Edge.
*  Good retail amenities including a grocery store, lots of boutiques, a couple of consignment stores, home good stores, banks, gyms & floral shops, several dessert joints, a dwtn public library, and several churches.
* Pretty good urban massing in the biz district and quality streetscaping overall.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* While there are limited transit options to Dwtn it is only a 15 minutes drive. One can bike it along River Road in about 50 mins.
* Very low density of an urban area.
* Public transit access is very limited.
* Bike infrastructure is very limited.
* Racial and economic diversity is so .
* Rental hsg is very limited. Really no studio and 1-bed options. Some 2-beds leasing in the low to mid $1,000s.
* Affordable hsg exists in Perrysburg but is relegated to the outskirts of town.
* Missing retail amenities include a drugstore, a bookstore, and hospital is about 1 mile outside of town.
* Urban in-fill is a half-hearted attempt for urbanity as buildings are generally historic looking but still often pretty autocentric. Not terrible though.

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.

Old Brooklyn- Home of the Cleveland Zoo and a stable community for middle class families

I excluded the suburban part of Old Brooklyn east of I-176 (Jennings Freeway). During the late 1880s farmers in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood were among the first in the Midwest to use greenhouses to cultivate vegetables and by the 1920s the neighborhood was one of the nation’s leading producers of greenhouse vegetables.

Development started to replace the farmsteads by the late 1800s and early 20th century and Brooklyn became another Cleveland streetcar neighborhood completely annexed into the City by 1927. There is also some housing on the edges developed btwn the 30s-50s. Old Brooklyn is also blessed with several commercial districts. Pearl, Broadview, and State roads were vibrant biz districts btwn the 1920s-1960s and were followed, after WWII , by  shopping plazas at  Memphis-Fulton, Broadview-Brook park, and Pearl-Brookpark. Old Brooklyn’s most notable landmark, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, created in 1907 after relocating from University Circle.

From an urban perspective this is one of Cleveland’s more stable residential areas and historically has been a place where middle class families who wanted to live in the City would consider purchasing an affordable home. There is some walkability here with many schools, decent transit and good access to dwtn, lots of parks, and some retail and cultural amenities. But there are still some iffy spots throughout and many vacant store fronts limiting the vibrancy of the biz district and retail options. Bike lanes are also limited. A major push to activate Brooklyn’s biz district and build mixed-use apartments along them would do wonders to the neighborhood from an urban perspective.

Click here to view my album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Consistent sidewalks and curb cuts throughout. 50-50 with modern ADA curb infrastructure and generally concentrated in the more upscale parts of the neighborhood.
* Convenient access to dwtn.  Only 15 minute drive and 30 min bus ride.
* Good diversity across all measures, especially economic.
* Good tree canopy.
* Overall good parks, especially the Cleveland Metro Parks around the Zoo, the expansive Loew Park, and Harmody Park which follows the creek. Several other small parks pretty well distributed throughout Old Brooklyn and several cemeteries.
* Culturally, decent restaurants & bars, several cafes, a couple art galleries, night clubs, and live music venues the Cleveland Zoo, and a couple of local museums.
* Good number of walkable schools across all ages but mixed ratings.
* An ok # of rentals but very affordable. 1-beds lease for $600-800, 2-beds btwn 700K into the low 1Ks, and a handful of 3-beds in the $1,000s.
* For sale is also very inexpensive. Small  1-beds sell btwn 50K-100K, 2 beds btwn 50K-200, 3 & 4-beds  btwn 75-350K.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Bike lanes are patchy and not consistent. Not dedicated bike stations here.
* While housing is relatively inexpensive there is  limited higher end product (both rental and for-sale) .
* Ok retail amenities with a discount supermarket, a butcher & cheese shops, several drug stores, a large greenhouse in the middle of the district, a couple bike stores, a couple thrift stores, several dessert stores & bakeries, several banks, a public library & post office, a good # of churches, and a hospital.
* Urban form is good in chucks but often large auto centric breaks and consistent limited renovated stretches.
* Generally a safe area but with crime hot spots here and there. Also a good amount of vacant store fronts.
* In-fill is generally pretty limited but most of it crummy autocentric bldgs. But some decent mid-centric apartment bldgs with good urban form.
* Pedestrian activity is pretty low.

East Franklinton- Columbus’s oldest Neighborhood and Now Home to a Burgeoning Art Scene and Major Redevelopment Efforts

Settled in 1797, Franklinton is the first American settlement in Franklin County, and was the county seat until 1824. As the city of Columbus grew to the east, Franklinton was annexed and incorporated by Columbus in 1859. Franklinton still hosts some of the City’s oldest surviving building, but unfortunately due to serious disinvestment, much of this has been lost. The eastern portion of Franklinton is sometimes referred to as “The Bottoms”  because much of the land flooded historically. But this threat has been eliminated thanks to the construction of a floodwall in 2004. Franklinton industrialized during the second half of the 19th century as four railroads were built here. This also led to a significant influx of families from SW Ohio and West Virginia   The fabric of the neighborhood was well maintained until the 1960s with the construction of the innerbelt. This resulted in significant lowering of property values and ultimately blight and disinvestment. Thanks to the construction of the damn and significant political will, there are major redevelopment plans in the works for East Franklinton. The neighborhood has already seen some renovations, large infill projects, new breweries & restaurants, and a bourgeoning arts scene. This will be well augmented by the Scioto Peninsula project projected to bring 1800 new residences, a couple hotels, 2M Sq. Ft. of office and 200K sq ft of new restaurant and retail space to the community. The Scioto Peninsula is the portion of the neighborhood sticking out into the Scioto River where Cosi and the Natural History Museum are currently located directly across from Dwtn.

East Franklinton also excels at hosting wondering recreational amenities, several museums, and some of the best examples of cutting edge in-fill architecture in Columbus. From an urban deficiency standpoint, East Franklinton has limited retail amenities, limited housing options, a lack of tree canopy, low density, and many dead spaces. These issues however will hopefully be resolved soon as the neighborhood continues to fill in. Many current residents and housing advocates are rightfully concerned with potential gentrification and displacement, which hopefully will motivate City leaders to aggressively develop new affordable housing.

Click here to view my East Franklinton Album on my Flickr Page.

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Excellent access to Dwtn sitting literally across the Scioto River front it. Also solid public transit as well.
* Several dedicated bike lanes including the Scioto River trail that wraps around the district and a couple road based lanes. Also several bike rental stations in the neighborhood. Scotter rentals are also very plentiful in the neighborhood.
* More and more rentals coming to the neighborhood as it is under a construction boom. 1-bedrooms generally lease in the low-mid $1,000s. 2-beds in the mid $1,000s.
* Some very nice Park and Recreational amenities with the Dodge Park Community Center & Pool, the Lower Scioto Recreation Trail, wrapping around 2/3rds of the neighborhood, West Bank Park, and Genoa Park.
* Culturally the neighborhood excels at Breweries, bars, and art galleries. Also a good number of restaurants & cafes. Franklinton also hosts COSI, the Natural History Museum, and Veterans Memorial & Museum. The neighborhood also has good access to the cultural amenities Dwtn.
* Some really wonderful historic buildings but not much of it left in the neighborhood. Franklinton is becoming a skinning example of cutting edge in-fill architecture for the City.
* Lots of recent buzz about the district helping to counter act decades of negative perception.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Sidewalks are generally in place but sometimes missing due to the blighted and industrial legacy of Franklinton. About 50% of intersections have current ADA ramps.
* Only a handful of schools within East Franklinton but of mixed ratings. Several in the wider Franklinton community also with mixing rating but covering K-12 well.
* For sale housing is pretty limited but generally moderately priced. Really not 1-bedroom product. 2-beds btwn mid 100Ks to 300K. New or renovated 3 & 4 beds seem to be selling in the 300Ks & 400Ks but not a lot of comps to go on.
* Retail amenities are still very limited. There are a couple boutiques, a florist, a salon, a couple churches, and convenient access to a major hospital.
* Safety in East Franklinton is more perceived than real. Most crime seems to occur west of I-315 but East Franklinton still hosts a lot of blight and vacancy.
* Lots of missing teeth leading to bad urban form. This will improve, however, as the neighborhood fills in. New develop has been quality urban form and good streetscaping.
* Tree canopy is so .
* Density is very low but this will improve quickly and tons of development is planned for East Franklinton.

King Lincoln- Columbus’s Historic African American Neighborhood

Originally known as Bronzeville by its residents, this neighborhood was rebranded as King-Lincoln during Mayor Michael B. Coleman’s administration to highlight its historical significant to the African-American community in Columbus.

The origins of King-Lincoln date back to the 19th century when freed and escaped slaves from across the Confederate South began to settle in Columbus. The neighborhood’s Black population especially grew during the Great Migration after WWI due to its existing Black population and convenient location near jobs. Restrictive housing covenants in other areas and White flight, solidified Bonneville’s claim as the most populated African American neighborhood in Columbus and by the 30s it was a vibrant self-sustaining Black community. It also became a hub of Black cultural hosting four theaters and multiple jazz clubs. The district would later be the  site for much of Columbus’ civil rights activism. Like most African American neighborhoods in America, Brownsville started to decline in the 60s thanks to the construction of I-71, and the migration of middle class Black families to the suburbs. This gutted King-Lincoln of most of its businesses and helped create a concentrated area of blight, crime and poverty.

Thankfully King-Lincoln is on the rise again thanks to the success of neighboring Olde Town East but also to the tireless promotion of its community groups and lots of gorgeous historic homes that are being renovated. While there is a significant amount of permanent rental housing, efforts should be made to ensure long time residents can move to homeownership and take advantage of the rise in housing prices and investment. There are also signs of Long Street being rebuilt with some new food & beverage businesses and some mixed-use infill. But much work is still needed as there remains lots of blight and vacancy in King Lincoln. The northern business district, Mt. Vernon has seen very little reinvestment.

Click here to view my King-Lincoln Album on my Flickr Page

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Solid transit access and excellent convenience to Dwtn being literally on its eastern border.
* Good urban connectivity.
* Excellent economic diversity decent racial and generational diversity.
 * A good # of walkable schools within the neighborhood but most average or under performing.
* Good diversity in housing. 1-beds condos or rowhouses sell in the high 100Ks or low 200Ks, 2 beds btwn 100K-300K depending on size, condition, and stability of the block, 3-beds btwn mid 100Ks-400K, 4 & 5 beds are similar but with larger and newer homes selling btwn 400K-700K.
* Market rate rentals are a bit limited but moderately priced. 1-beds lease around 1,000, 2-beds in the 1,000s, and 3-beds in the mid $1,5000s to low 2Ks.
* Medium rent in King Lincoln is only $350 an indication that there remaining a lot of dedicated affordable rentals here.
* Some excellent residential architecture on the more stable streets. Also some good recent in-fill although plenty of crummy auto centric in-fill as well.
* Solid number of parks and recreational amenities within or near King Lincoln including Mayme Park, Beatty Park and recreation center. Franklin Park and Saunder Park/Swimming poll are in adjacent districts but still walkable. 

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Density isn’t great thanks to all the demolition and blight that have affected the neighborhood.
* Some bike infrastructure with a dedicated bike lane and a 2 dedicated bike stations.
* Decent ADA infrastructure but plenty of non compliance ADA curbs and some missing or broken sidewalks.
* While King Lincoln is prob much safer than it was still some pretty dodgy areas especially around Mt. Vernon and lots of blight remaining.
* As the density is still pretty low and there isn’t a cohesive biz district yet, pedestrian activity is pretty low.
* Cultural amenities are limited to the King Theater, the Kings Arts Complex, and a handful of restaurants and bars. Decent proximity to the cultural amenities in Olde Town East, Franklin Park, and Downtown.
* Retail amenities are also pretty limited but there is a local pharmacy, florist, library branch, a major hospital, post office branch and a handful of boutiques, barber shops, salons, and banks. Lots of churches however.

Historic Willoughby- an attractive historic suburb of Cleveland

Permanent White settlers first came to Willoughby in 1798, who operated a gristmill. In 1835, the village was permanently named “Willoughby” in honor of Dr. Westel Willoughby, Jr., a public health official and founder of a short-lived Medical College. Willoughby reached 1,000 residents in 1880s and slowly grew from there to just over 4,000 souls in 1940. The city’s population really boomed after WWII in areas not covered by this evaluation because they are very suburban.

From an urban perspective Willoughby excels at having an attractive and vibrant historic downtown. There are also several well rated walkable schools, good parks, moderately priced for sale housing, excellent tree canopy and a very high level of safety. But Dwtn Willoughby still has many suburban characteristics with many missing sidewalks, low density, no dedicated bike infrastructure, poor urban massing outside of the main street, and no walkable supermarkets and drug stores. While the chances of this occurring are slim, I’d love to see an effort to densify and urbanize this historic core of Willoughby. The infrastructure, sidewalks, and street grid are certainly there to do it.

Click here to view my Dwtn Willoughby Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* This is a very safe community.
* The population skews old by around 50% of households are family ones. Decent economic diversity too.
* Walkable schools within or nearby Historic Willoughby include a public middle & high school and catholic grade school. All are rated well.
* For Sale housing is moderately priced with 2-beds selling in the 100Ks, 3 & 4 bedrooms anywhere between 100K-400K depending on size and condition. A handful of larger homes costs more.
* Good array of parks within Historic Willoughby.
* Cultural amenities include a nice array of restaurants, bars, cafes, breweries, and a couple art galleries.
* Retail wise an excellent array of boutiques, home good stores, dessert places, and creative shops. Downtown also hosts a historic public library and the post office.
* Very nice historic architecture in Dwtn. The historic homes are mostly mediocre 30s-40s housing but some gems.
* Excellent tree canopy.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Poor density more on pare with a suburban community.
* Some public transit access but overall pretty limited.
* Driving to Dwtn takes about 30 mins via bus on the weekday 50 mins. Limited transit access during the weekend.
* ADA and sidewalk infrastructure is good along the historic main street but spotty in the residential areas. About 80% of the streets have sidewalks and less than half current ADA ramps.
* No dedicated bike lanes in historic Willoughby.
* Very low racial diversity as 98% of population is White.
* Rentals are very limited.
* Culturally no museums, or theaters.
* No supermarket nor drug store in Historic Willoughby.
* Not much modern in-fill and what does exist is mostly auto centric development.
* Massing and streetscaping is very good in Dwtn but quickly becomes auto centric in areas still within this evaluation.
* Pedestrian activity good Dwtn but limited in residential areas.

Shaker Square- A Transit Rich, Walkable, and Diverse Cleveland Community

Shaker Square is technically in Cleveland’s Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood but I carved out what is more considered the Shaker Square/Larchmere district. This includes the most stable portion of the Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood and even a sliver of Shaker Heights. It is the area between the western border of Shaker Heights and Moreland Blvd (in the southern half) and the area between Shaker Square-Fairfield Hill Drive and MLK Dr and Coventry Rd in the northern half. Shaker Square has lived on the edge of some of Cleveland’s most impoverished and blighted communities (i.e. Buckeye, Mt. Pleasant and Woodland Homes) since the 1960s. What has kept it stable is the success of the Larchmere and Shaker Square biz districts and the stability of the Shaker School district present in the eastern half of the neighborhood.

Development of Shaker Square as a American Colonial-Georgian Shopping Center began 1927. At completion, it was the second planned shopping Center in the US after the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. Many attractive restaurants, shops, bars, art galleries, and unique shops line Shaker Square and Larchmere. The neighborhood is also anchored by a cinema & Dave’s Supermarket. Other urban amenities include great transit access, stable but affordable housing, a high level of walkability, great tree canopy, and attractive architecture especially the 1920s Tudor Apartment buildings. Shaker Square still suffers from perceived crime problems and this has really held the neighborhood back and kept it highly undervalued from a real estate perceptive. Most of this concern is mis-placed due to Shaker Square’s close proximity to poorer parts of Cleveland. The neighborhood also needs better park amenities, bike infrastructure, and better performing schools in the Cleveland School District portion of the community. There is certainly also room for more density which would increase neighborhood vibrancy and amenities.

Click here to view my Shaker Square Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Excellent transit access thanks to many bus lines and a dedicated rail line. This helps give Shaker Square solid access to Dwtn and University Circle.
* Great diversity across racial, economic, and generational lines. Over 50% of households are family households.
* Housing is generally affordable or moderately priced. Some 1-bedroom condos available mainly around Shaker Square selling in the low-mid 100Ks. 2-bedrooms condos, homes and townhouses sell from anywhere btwn 50K- low 200KS deepening on size and condition. Single Family 3-5 bedrooms sell anywhere between 50K-200K.
* Rentals are also very affordable. 1-beds lease for anywhere btwn 600K- the low 1Ks, 2-beds around $1,000s,  and 3 beds in the low $1,000s.
* There is also a decent amount of dedicated affordable housing.
* Great Tree canopy.
* Shaker Square hosts some good cultural amenities including many diverse restaurants, plenty of bars, cafes, and several art galleries. There is also a Cinema and dance studio.
* Retail amenities include a Dave’s Supermarket, Drug Store, a wonderful book store, nice array of boutiques, antiques, creative stores, and home good stores. There are also several dessert spots, a local post office & library, several gym, a specialty hospital, and indoor ice rink.
* Quality historic architecture, especially considering the Tudor apartments. Modern in-fill is generally quality too.
* Urban massing and streetscape is generally quite good other than a couple auto centric spots on Larchmere.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Decent but not great density. A bit surprising considering all the apartment buildings in the neighborhood.
* Bike infrastructure is limited to only the dedicated bike lanes on MLK Boulevard.
* If anything there is not enough higher end luxury product in Shaker Square since the market is so soft.
* Schools are a mix of well performing schools in Shaker that some residents have access to and the poor performing schools in Cleveland. Fortunately in Cleveland there are a couple well performing charter schools and a good Catholic High School and Grade School.
* The neighborhood is generally safe, especially the areas next to Shaker Heights, Larchmere, and Shaker Square itself. Areas around Moreland and MLK Blvds can be a bit dodgy.
* Other than Ambler and Rockefeller park on the north edge, park space is pretty limited.
* Shaker Square sadly still suffers from perspective issue. This is mostly unjustified due to its close proximity to rougher parts of Cleveland. This largely holds the neighborhood’s potential back.

Shaker Heights- A well planned Cleveland inner Ring Suburb

In July 1911, a petition by property owners successfully detached Shaker Heights from Cleveland Heights. But Shaker Heights has a history that goes back almost 100 years before this. The community was originally established as the North Union Shaker Settlement in 1822 with just over 80 individuals of the infamous Unity Society of Believes “aka the Shakers”. The community peaked in the mid 1800s but fizzed out by the late 1800s. Modern day Shaker Heights was a planned community developed by the Van Sweringen brothers, railroad moguls who envisioned the community as a suburban retreat from the industrial inner city of Cleveland with a direct rail connection to Terminal Towner in Downtown. Development really picked up in the 1920s and Shaker filled in by about 1950.



Shaker Square was originally supposed to be within the Shaker Heights boundaries, but due to the founders’ wish to keep retail out of their community, it was given over to the city of Cleveland. This agreement also led to this portion of Cleveland remaining within the Shaker School District. Shaker Heights has been an attractive, amenity rich inner ring suburb since its founding characterized by stringent building codes/zoning laws, great park amenities, well rated schools, quality transit access, and good urban business districts. Like Cleveland Heights, Shaker made conscious efforts toward Black-White integration starting in the late 1950s. As a result, Shaker Heights avoided many of the problems created from practices such as blockbusting and white flight and now is a very integrated community, albeit still facing significant economic white-black disparities. To become a great urban community Shaker needs to relax its zoning and permit more density and mixed use development. It especially needs better urban development at the Van Aiken District and Lee & Van Aiken. This is also need for more bike infrastructure and cultural amenities.

Click here to view my Shaker Heights

URBAN STRENGTHS:

  • Excellent family diversity (65% Family households) and racial diversity.
  • Great transit access helped by have two light rail lines running through.
  • Very safe community overall.
  • Up to date ADA infrastructure was very consistant.
  • Excellent array of walkable public and private schools. Really impressed with the sheer number of elementary schools providing a walkable options to most residents of the City. Shaker is also home to a large concentration of expensive private high schools.
  • A decent # of rentals. 1-bedrooms are concentrated around Shaker Square and the Van Aiken District and lease for btwn $700 and the low $1,000s. 2-beds a bit more broadly distributed lease in the law $1,000s, and 3 bedrooms btwn the low 1Ks and low 2Ks.
  • Good for sale diversity. Cluster of 1-bed condos along Van Aiken selling btwn 30K-100K, 2-beds sell for anywhere btwn 30K-300K and can be a condo, small house or townhouse. 3-bed homes sell anywhere btwn 85K-400K. 4 & 5 beds is a bit more expensive but with the additional of mansions selling btwn 500K-1 M.
  • Excellent recreational amenities including a whole system of trails, woods, and lakes along Shaker’s natural streams. Instead of burying them (like most cities) Shaker made them assets. Also plenty of playgrounds, ballfields, and a swimming poor spreader throughout.
  • Culturally a decent amount of restaurants, bars, and cafes in Shakers 4 Commercial nodes (Shaker Square/Larchmere, Lee & Van Aiken, the Van Aiken District, and Fairmount Circle), several art galleries, the Shaker Square Cinema, and Shaker Historical Museum.
  • Retail amenities are good including 2 supermarkets, several drug stores, a wonderful bookstore, hardware store, lots of general retail, great array of boutiques and creative retail at Larchmere and the Van Aiken district, plenty of banks, dessert spots and gyms.
  • Excellent tree canopy.
  • Many gorgeous mansions but also lots of more modest mid century architecture.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Poor urban density. Closer to that of an autocentric suburb than urban district.
* Street connectivity works in Shaker Heights but intentionally confusion. This certainly hurts Shaker’s imageability.
* A couple recreational/bike lanes but no dedicated bike lanes are strongly connected routes.
* Medium household income but still some decent diversity. 8.5% of population is under the poverty line.
* No community theaters, museums, or live music venues in Shaker.
* Mixed bag in terms of urban form with Shaker’s Biz district. Shaker Square (just outside of Shaker) is great and so is Larchmere. Lee & Van Aiken is mostly strip malls with parking in front, the Van Aiken District is quasi urban but a nice semi-lifestyle center, and Fairmount Circle is small but walkable.
* Having lots of auto centric biz districts obviously leads to some crummy modern in-fill. Good mixed-use infill at the Van Aiken District however.
* Outside of the business district, pedestrian activity is pretty sparse. 

Cleveland Heights [West]- An Affluent but Urban Cleveland Suburb

For evaluation purposes I divided Cleveland Heights around Superior Road. Southwest of Superior Road is what I consider to be West Cleveland Heights. This is the more affluent, urban, and amenity rich portion of Cleveland Heights that contains its best housing and the business districts of Cedar-Lee, Coventry, Cedar Fairmount, and Cedar Taylor.

Rockefeller was one of the first to come to Cleveland Heights at present day Forest Hills Park. More consequential development began with the Euclid Heights development in 1892. By the end of 1899 the streetcar reached Cleveland Heights along Mayfield Road to the old village of Fairmount. In 1910 Cleveland Heights had a population about 5,000 people and 15,400 by 1920, This tripled in the next decade and by 1960 the City hit its highwater mark of 61,813. Cleveland Heights is one of Cleveland’s most diverse urban areas. This first began in the 50s when the City saw a large influx of many Jewish people leaving Cleveland, particularly the Hough and Glenville neighborhoods. The City also dismantled its restrict covenants in the 1960s and encourage many African American families to move to the City helping the City move from only 1% Black population to its current representation around 40%.,

From an urban perspective West Cleveland Heights excels at having multiple concentrated urban business districts well distributed across its borders. It also has gorgeous historic architecture, high levels of cultural and retail amenities, convenient access to University Circle, excellent housing diversity, and is safe. Surprisingly Cleveland Heights has very low density. These leads to vibrant activity being concentrated in its biz nodes. There is also need for better schools, more bike infrastructure, and several autocentric areas along Mayfield Rd.

Click Here to view my Cleveland Heights [West] Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Generally very good ADA infrastructure minus some intersections without modern ADA infrastructure.
* Access to Dwtn Cleveland is pretty good but excellent access to University Circle an employment center of around 30K jobs.
* Excellent economic diversity but also racial and family diversity.
* Excellent diversity of for-sale housing. A good # of 1-bedroom condos selling anywhere btwn 80K to the low 200Ks; 2-bedrooms are either older condos selling in the 100Ks/low 200Ks or new townhomes selling in the 300Ks & 400Ks. Most 3 bedrooms sell between 75K-300K but some larger and newer townhouses sell around 400K & 500K.  4 & 5 bedrooms also have a great range. The large mansions sell btwn 500K and 1 M.
* Rentals are generally very moderately priced. 1 beds lease anywhere btwn &700 to low $1,000s, 2 beds btwn 800K and mid $1,000s, 3-beds in the low-mid $1,000s. 4 beds a bit more.
* Solid park spaces ring west Cleveland Heights including  Doan’s Broke (aka Shaker Lakes), Lake View Cemetery, Forest Hill Park, and Cumberland Park, and Cain Park/
* Culturally a good number of ethnic restaurants, bars, cafes, and breweries. Also a historic cinema that still operates, several local theaters and art galleries, and convenient access to all the museums and other cultural amenities of University Circle and Little Italy.
* Solid retail amenities as well including  3 full service supermarkets, drug store,  several book stores, a hardware store, banks, dessert joins, and plenty of boutiques and unique retail dispersed among Cleveland Heights several solid commercial nodes. There is also a public library, several top notch hospitals located 2-3 miles away in University Circle and many big box stores in Several & brand name retail in Severance Town Center 1 mile away.
* Excellent tree canopy.
* Great historic architecture and generally urban in-fill is good except for some auto centric bldgs here and there.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Nice dedicated bike lane along the Shaker Lakes and a small one along Lee road but no dedicated bike stations.
* Poor density at just over 5,000 per square mile.
* Good pedestrian activity in the commercial nodes. Pretty dead in the residential streets, especially where the larger homes are located.
* Good array of walkable schools but rating are only okay.
* Generally a safe City but some rough spots, more in east Cleveland Heights however.