Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Slow Death

I'm afraid to say that the west side of Cleveland is dying. I'm seeing more and more empty storefronts, and a major anchor is pulling out of a local mall. The outdoor mall that replaced Westgate Mall seems to be thriving, but drive only a little way down the street, and there is an entire plaza that is almost empty. The biggest anchor in the empty plaza, as a matter of fact, pulled out and moved to Westgate Mall. I mentioned in a previous post about my favorite clothing store closing the only store they had on the west side. I doubt any of this is helped by the fact that Cuyahoga County's sales tax rate is the highest in the entire state.

Of course, the east side of Cleveland, and south of Cleveland (i.e. Strongsville) seem to be doing better economically. But, and especially in a town that is bordered on one side by an "inland sea," such as Cleveland, I can't see one side of a county, a major metropolitan area, getting worse economically without the rest of the area eventually feeling it. The Strongsville area's only saving grace at the moment may be that Summit County has a sales tax rate on the lower end of the state.

I may be biased by having spent most of my life on the west side of Cleveland, but I do believe the area has a lot to offer. The lake, for one thing. Boating, fishing, personal watercraft. Lots of nice park areas in the Metropolitan Park System. While not at the level of an NYC or LA, there are also nice museums, concerts and plays. That this area may be turning into another Detroit is not only sad, but seems such a waste. There is no reason, that I can see, that this area should be dying, besides poor management by the politicians that run it, the same thing that has decimated Detroit.

And speaking of poor management, I have to put in a note of disgust for the city planners of Avon, OH. They allowed an enormous grove of trees to be chopped down, to make room for more stores. The problem is, the trees have been gone for months, and there is no sign of any new stores coming. So everyone who drives on I-90 through Avon gets to see an open area full of mud and tree stumps, which may stay only mud and tree stumps for a very long time. Yes, there is a new freeway exit going in a little further down the street, but that won't be ready for at least a year, and Avon already has most of the major big box stores and, I believe, all of the local grocery stores. Plus, one of the big reason the exit is being built is to relieve rush hour congestion for the two exits on either side. Will it really bring any new people? And yes, the far west side into Lorain County does seem to be doing well. But how many of those are people fleeing Cuyahoga County for Lorain County? Can that area keep it up? Or will the near west side eventually drag it down as well? I'm not optimistic, given the the sluggish economy and poor city leaders.

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