NOTE: The following Personal View was submitted ahead of the May 30-31 events in downtown Cleveland. Along with the City of Cleveland, Downtown Cleveland Alliance is currently working with all those affected in the central business district to ensure the future of a vibrant Downtown Cleveland for all, DCA said.
We began 2020 with tremendous energy in downtown Cleveland. The Sherwin-Williams headquarters announcement, major events on the horizon like the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, NCAA men’s basketball tournament, and beloved celebrations like St. Patrick’s Day and the Indians’ home opener. For the last few months, downtown Cleveland streets have been quieter than we have seen in a long time. Now, as we reopen the economy, the question is how quickly will we “return to normal”?
Navigating new guidelines and policies to keep people safe may be challenging but is not insurmountable. Working together over the last 15 years, we transformed downtown Cleveland. I strongly believe we can — and will — do it again. The momentum our shared vision created helped build a vibrant downtown that attracts residents, investments and entrepreneurs. It is strong enough to weather the impacts of COVID-19.
During this crisis, construction in downtown continues with eight projects underway, including six residential buildings that will add more than 1,100 apartments to the neighborhood, helping us achieve the milestone of 20,000 downtown residents. These projects represent our community’s resilence and reflect the fact that urban centers have historically overcome crises. Just as the economic effects of the 1918 flu epidemic and other pandemics have come and gone, those invested in the future of downtown are using this opportunity to reimagine the downtown experience, make people feel safe and still create social connections.
As we continue to invest in public/private partnerships, the Downtown Cleveland Alliance and our partners remain committed to innovating and advocating for place-based strategies that will improve the pedestrian experience downtown. During this crisis, our ambassadors stayed on the job, helping to ensure a clean and safe environment, and continued to be a visible presence. Their work provides peace of mind for those living and working here. As restaurants and offices reopen, our ambassadors are more critical than ever to the success of downtown neighborhoods. Our Business Development Center has prioritized helping small businesses access relief packages, while advocating for greater resources. We’ve engaged office tenants, property owners and financial institutions in planning for reopening and building for the future. We’ve connected our stakeholders with insights from the International Downtown Association and International Economic Development Council.
Through our weekly “Downtown Now” virtual webinars, our survey of downtown residents and stakeholders, and our social media platforms, we know people want to come back downtown and experience all it has to offer. While downtown may feel very different today, I am confident we will reignite the energy we experienced over the last 15 years.
Working with our partners, we will continue to grow a neighborhood that attracts residents, innovators and disruptors, and the investment we need to compete in the global market. I know that a vibrant downtown — one that includes residents, entertainment, green space, job opportunities and retail — will be at the center of our region’s success.
Marinucci is the CEO and president of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance.