Cleveland Gordon Square Arts District
What are the target goals?
The Gordon Square Arts District (GSAD), which is located in Cleveland's Westside neighborhood, sponsors a variety of projects and programs that continually work to expand the idea that art is a catalyst for area wide economic development. In other words, the GSAD's projects aim to practice "The Art of Economic Development."
The GSAD has four major goals: to improve the district's streetscapes, to create additional parking throughout the district, to restore and renovate the Cleveland Public Theatre and the Capitol Theatre, and finally, to build a permanent home for the Near West Theatre inside the district.
As of 2013, GSAD had completed streetscape improvements (improvements included new plantings, landscaping, underlit benches, way finding signage, removal of utility lines, widened sidewalks, and decorative street lamps), added three additional parking lots, and completed renovations to the Capital Theatre. Renovations are underway at the Cleveland Public Theatre and construction of the new Near West Theatre is set for completion in early 2015. Through these completed and ongoing projects, the Westside has become a hub for the arts and continues to attract new businesses and visitors.
Who are the partners?
The Gordon Square Arts District is comprised of three main partners: the Cleveland Public Theatre, the Near West Theatre, and the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization, which owns the Capitol Theatre. These nonprofits and business owners have worked in collaboration for over a decade to develop and implement improvements to their neighborhood. What began as an artistic makeover has grown into a thriving business and economic venture between the partners, the surrounding neighborhood community, and the city of Cleveland. In addition, the three partners have formed relationships with many different funding organizations and sponsors.
How is the effort financed?
The Gordon Square Arts District is funded through a combination of over 1,000 public, private, and philanthropic grants, funds, and contributions. Examples of funders include the City of Cleveland, Federal and State Historic Preservation Tax Credits, Community Development Block Grants, The Cleveland Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Majic Family Fund, and more. The GSAD began its fundraising efforts in the 1990s in order to develop an initial master plan and economic feasibility study. Later on, the GSAD set a fundraising goal of $30 million to complete their revitalization efforts. This fundraising goal was reached in 2014.
In addition to physical improvements, the GSAD's many projects and programs have created a longstanding economic impact in both the neighborhood and the city. From 2006-2014 the Westside neighborhood alone acquired over 75 new businesses, 520 new jobs, and is expected to gain nearly $500 million in economic development funds. Furthermore, it is expected that once the GSAD has completed its five main goals there will be an addition of nearly 773 permanent jobs in Cleveland as well as increased economic output of $317 million.
When was the program launched?
Although the partnership of the GSAD and initial planning for the Westside's revitalization began in the 1990s, the first project broke ground in 2006-2007. The streetscape improvements and Capitol Theatre renovations were completed in 2009, as were most of the additional spaces for visitor vehicles. By 2014 the new Near West Theatre was close to completion and the first phase of the renovation and preservation of the Cleveland Public Theatre was completed.
Gadwa, Anne and Ann Markusen, (2010), Creative Placemaking, National Endowment for the Arts, http://arts.gov/pub/pubDesign.php
Gordon Square Arts District, The Art of Economic Development, http://gordonsquare.org/about.html
City Solutions and Applied Research
National League of Cities, www.nlc.org
Uploaded February 2015, JAB