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Policies & Strategies
Link: Retail Printabe Version (PDF)

The overarching goal is to provide Cleveland residents with a broad range of high quality, conveniently located retail shopping opportunities. The Connecting Cleveland 2020 Plan therefore puts forth a comprehensive set of policies, each addressing a key issue—along with practical strategies through which we might take immediate steps toward their implementation:

  1. Building on Strengths. Re-establish the competitiveness of Cleveland’s neighborhood retail districts by building upon their traditional strengths as pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use districts with distinctive architectural character.

    1. Increase resources available through the City’s storefront renovation program. Provide streamlined services to Storefront Renovation Program participants (i.e., priority permit review by Building & Housing).

    2. Prepare urban design and development plans, design guidelines, and retail market studies for each of the City’s neighborhood retail districts.

    3. Use specialized zoning districts to foster well-designed, pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use retail districts with an identifiable anchor use that generates traffic and helps define the district.

    4. Capitalize on Cleveland’s rich cultural and ethnic diversity by incorporating cultural or ethnic themes into the strategies for strengthening retail areas.

  2. Preservation. Give priority to renovation and infill development, as opposed to large-scale new development, as the principal means of providing competitive retail shopping in Cleveland.

    1. Create “Business Improvement Districts” or other mechanism to channel funding to security, maintenance, streetscape, marketing, parking and other measures to strengthen neighborhood retail districts.

    2. Increase utilization of the City’s nationally renowned Storefront Renovation program as a tool to facilitate aesthetic changes in commercial buildings in Cleveland’s retail districts.

    3. Enforce building codes to (a) ensure vacant properties are properly maintained, and (b) Inspect properties with a view toward aesthetics and design when they inspect.

    4. Avoid public subsidies for retail projects that provide direct competition for existing designated retail districts.

  3. Building Smart. Strategically locate and design a limited number of large-scale shopping centers in a manner that will stem the outflow of retail spending from the c ity of Cleveland, while complementing the city’s traditional retail districts.

    1. Undertake market studies to identify areas of the city that possess the requisite demographic and economic characteristics to support large-scale shopping centers that complement existing viable retail nodes.

    2. Target land assembly to facilitate development of strategically located shopping centers.

    3. Encourage the use of “green” building practices to reduce commercial building energy consumption and decrease the amount of storm water runoff.

      • Discourage demolition of viable, architecturally significant structures in target retail districts.

  4. Consolidating. Consolidate retail shopping to create and reinforce mixed-use “town centers” that serve as focal points of neighborhood activity.

    1. Implement land-use plans for retail consolidation through zoning map changes.

    2. Employ the Pedestrian Retail Overlay (PRO) zoning district to ensure that a pedestrian-friendly character is maintained in neighborhood retail districts where retail buildings are located at the sidewalk’s edge.

    3. Conduct retail market analysis for existing retail districts to determine uses that complement the established retail mix and promote the clustering of such establishments.

  5. Niche Marketing. Transform selected retail districts into regional attractions by clustering stores around common themes—such as arts and culture, ethnic identities, antiques, and recreation and scenic resources.

    1. Capitalize on unique attributes like the Towpath Trail and University Circle, the West Side & East Side Markets to create distinct retail areas that offer a shopping experience that caters to a cross-section of residents ranging from core users to casual visitors.

    2. Encourage CDC’s to avoid costly individual placement of magazine and or newspaper ads as part of their neighborhood marketing campaigns in favor of larger area Web based advertising as a retail marketing tool

    3. Utilize street fairs, special sales, couponing, sponsorships and similar promotions to promote awareness of retail areas.

      • Create “welcome to the neighborhoods” coupon packages from area retailers that are either mass-mailed periodically, or mailed to new residents in the surrounding area.

    4. Market districts such as Chinatown, Little Italy, Tremont and Downtown as a single entity rather than an agglomeration of individual businesses.

  6. Tapping the Market. Improve the quantity and quality of retail in Cleveland neighborhoods by tapping into hidden market segments that are often overlooked by national retailers.

    1. Provide national retailers with demographic and economic data such as Social Compact’s City of Cleveland Neighborhood Market Drilldown, which illustrates and quantifies the extent of the city’s understated buying power.

      • City should identify a retail “salesman” – high energy, charismatic – who knows retailing, understands the reasons retailers use for not locating here, and understands neighborhood markets enough to advocate and create counter-arguments in support of urban neighborhood locations. This person can then “sell” appropriate sites to attract retailers and restaurants with financial strength to cover market rents in improved buildings.

    2. Assemble and disseminate figures that show that the buying power of many of the city’s outlying neighborhoods, such as Kamm’s Corners, Lee-Harvard or Collinwood, rivals or exceeds that of adjacent suburban communities.

    3. Identify specific neighborhoods capable of supporting a “niche” retail environment.

    4. Utilize new “Discover Cleveland” concept where Visitors Bureau includes specific marketing to these “niche” neighborhoods and ways to get there.

  7. Creating Employment. Recognize that retailing provides jobs that are often the first introduction to the workforce for young people and that provide senior citizens with opportunities for supplemental income and socialization.

    1. Pursue matches between retailers and young people and seniors as part of a workforce preparation strategy.

  8. Creating Wealth. Maximize opportunities for Cleveland residents to own and operate retail businesses in the city.

    1. Target economic development assistance in a manner that facilitates local entrepreneurship and provides quality retailing and retailing in under-served areas.

    2. Solicit the assistance of larger ethnic and/or business-based groups in mentoring city residents as business owners.

  9. Connecting to Transit. Link new and revitalized retail development to public transit, as well as to pedestrian and bicycle routes and public amenities.

    1. Provide pedestrian & cycling amenities such as bike racks, benches, water, air for tires, and lockers in and around major commercial districts and shopping centers.

    2. Work with the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority to develop additional community circulator bus routes to serve major retail districts citywide.

    3. Encourage the development of convenience retail at rapid transit stations and major transit nodes.

  10. Building Safe. Design retail developments to maximize public safety, and work with merchant and community organizations to ensure ongoing safety and security.

    1. Incorporate reviews of public safety by qualified experts such as police officers into the design review process for major building and streetscape projects.

  11. Streetscape. Improve the appearance and vitality of retail district “streetscapes” through the use of public art, banners and signs, benches, street trees, decorative paving, underground wiring, sidewalk cafes, etc.

    1. Coordinate a regularly scheduled City-sponsored maintenance program that provides basic maintenance for public rights-of-way elements within commercial districts, including sidewalks, light poles, street pavement and striping, street and pedestrian lights, etc.

  12. Parking. Develop strategically located shared parking lots and garages in neighborhood retail districts that are under-served by parking.

    1. Conduct a detailed study of successful districts that appear to be “underparked” (e.g. Little Italy, Tremont) and conversely the use of unsuccessful or underutilized district parking plans developed in the 1980s (Kamms, Detroit-Shoreway, Ohio City) to determine best practices for successful parking/historic district program.
    2. Identify underutilized strategically located parcels in retail districts for acquisition and redevelopment as parking facilities.
    3. Work with community development corporations to create neighborhood-based management strategies to operate and maintain parking facilities.

Specific identified opportunities relating to retail are listed in the Development Opportunities section of the Citywide Plan website.

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