Meet Our New CDC – Greater Collinwood Development Corp
I would like to think that “Greater” signifies not only its enormous area (all of Collinwood, Nottingham Village and Euclid Green) but how much greater Collinwood is going to become with its leadership.
The handover meeting last Thursday, at the Rec Center, was chaired by Scott Mills, president of the Northeast Shores board, introducing Jamar Doyle, GCDC’s executive director. GCDC has a staff of 13 (including Camille Maxwell, Carly Lovely and Jamie Baker from NSDC), with offices at 15614 Saint Clair and multiple programs at Five Pointe Community Center on E152. NSDC is now represented by New Village Corp, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Neighborhood Progress, Inc. (NPI), that develops real estate projects in joint ventures with community-based development corporations and private investors – a relationship designed to market the troubled LaSalle.
Jamar came to Collinwood from St. Clair Superior DevCorp, where he was Associate Director, and has a BA in Urban Studies and Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh, plus an MA from CSU in Urban Planning, Design and Development. He also has a lot of energy and a talent for listening, both of which he will need. And visions: of Collinwood as a transit corridor carrying suburbanites from the Heights to the lake, from the eastern suburbs to downtown – suppose we turn those corridors into billboards advertising Collinwood’s easily reached attractions; already, an audience member testified, her Beachwood friends are enchanted by the restaurants on E185. And Five Points, which was a serious shopping center, back in the day; it still has assets – all those municipal buildings, and empty buildings instead of empty lots – materials to work with.
Jamar has plans, based on what he’s already accomplishing with CNVDC: Housing and business development, neighborhood planning, programs for seniors, kids after school, job training and placement – the list goes on. All this activity will be supported by funding from the two councilmen involved – Mike Polensek and Anthony Hairston. The thinking presumably is that funding will go further without reduplication of assets.
Questions were asked, of course. About E185 – will the Merchants’ Association be revived? That’s on the list. Is the redevelopment promised by NSDC still on the menu? It is, based on the good supply of available buildings (a bigger asset than vacant lots, as some of us have been stressing), and positive meetings with the Land Bank.
Why no news about the streetscape? The project was shelved, but has come back to life (renewal from Canterbury north to the lake), along with the final link in NEORSD’s massive Euclid Creek Sewer Project - an $8 million storm sewer installation on East 185, from Pawnee to Marcella and up that street to Lakeshore Boulevard, – which will end the sewage-filled basements on the Indian streets.
I hope the streetscape – which is a massive undertaking – will be accompanied by an equally massive push to attract new businesses. The streetscape project on Waterloo effected a transformation beyond what I’d have thought possible – but was left, magically, to attract new stores without further effort. And it didn’t.
One incident at the meeting spoke volumes about GCDC’s probable future: Breauna Sweeney, representing Youth Leadership, made an impassioned plea for their program – and Jamar Doyle left the speakers’ table to promise her assistance with grant writing. I like to see direct action.