Disappearing Asphalt: Cleveland’s Downtown Building Boom Is Making Parking Lots Vanish

After decades of unproductive use, surface parking lots in the city’s core are finally giving way to development.

Photo by DJ Johnson on Unsplash

Filling in the gaps

Like a smile from a mouth missing several teeth, Cleveland’s central business district has spent much of the past 70 years seeing buildings razed and replaced by parking lots. As the city’s economic fates spiraled downward and local leaders leaned into urban renewal theories, once densely-built corridors watched as office space and housing disappeared to make way for more and more cars.

Photo by DJ Johnson on Unsplash

A growing neighborhood

These new buildings are part of a plan some thirty years in the making to transform what had become a hollowed-out central business district into a thriving neighborhood once again. The Downtown Cleveland Alliance, a 501(c)(3) organization that basically operates as a community development corporation for the district, set a goal of 20,000 residents by 2020 back in the 1990s. At the time, the neighborhood’s population was just barely above 5,000.

Photo by DJ Johnson on Unsplash

What’s next

The author does not want this piece to sound overly boosterish for his hometown. New development, particularly development that takes formerly unproductive land like surface parking lots and converts them into needed housing, office, and retail space is an objectively good thing for any city. That said, there are challenges inherent in this building and population boom for downtown Cleveland.

Photo by Julian Rivera on Unsplash
Photo by Chanan Greenblatt on Unsplash

Urban planner and writer. bennomartens.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store