Note from Storm: This Cleveland, Ohio example is far from the first time a Community Development Corporation (CDC)—usually associated with regenerating inner city neighborhoods–has been formed to revitalize an older suburb. But it seems to be a growing trend. If you agree or disagree, please comment at the bottom of this page.
From the article: The phrases “urban blight” and “Shaker Heights” are not typically included in the same sentence, except perhaps as an example of antithesis. Yet there it is: The Shaker Heights Development Corporation (CDC), with its newest — all right, only employee, Executive Director Nick Fedor.
Yes, leafy, green Shaker Heights, with its historic districts, legacy of wealth and private schools, lauded public schools, parks, city services, the whole idyllic nine yards… has an actionable plan to fight decay, and more, like any aging dame, address her flaws, augment her good points, and work towards relevance in the future.
“Shaker Heights is on the forefront of using the CDC model to enhance and build current assets,” Fedor says. “This is a bold step for Shaker, a non-entitlement community, and very forward looking.”
Fedor talks optimistically even as he admits the corridor faces challenges including the constricted thoroughfare, the lack of common ownership among the 70-80 buildings scattered along Lee south of Chagrin, and the absence of a unifying look or feel as a business district.
But unlike some cities that are happy to host any business, Shaker Heights is a little more selective. Fedor refers to this as “special sauce,” a mindset that makes his job somewhat harder. Sure he could recruit a national fast-food chain to set up shop in one of Shaker’s commercial zones, but long term, is that what’s best for the area? Is it the best tenant for the available space? And most importantly, is it sustainable?
Above all, Fedor and his board are aiming for “creative placemaking,” he says. “Our intent is to create walkable amenities, services and entertainment, plus places to live, and places to work throughout Shaker Heights in a way that is respectful and contextually complimentary to the existing city in every way.”