Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Gross Report Relocates

Ok, it's now been roughly three weeks since I've posted. This is not, in fact, due to a lack of story ideas. I've got tons of them. A huge backlog of articles that I need to write. Please accept my apologies for not keeping the unstoppable brute force of urban planning logic wisdom going full throttle. I know how much all of you depend on my witty, clever, so on and so forth observations.

So, why did I drop out of the urban planning blogosphere for so long?

Because (drum roll please) I (and the fiancee) am moving to the Twin Cities (that's Minneapolis & St. Paul, Minnesota, for those of you not in-the-know). The job search took up a huge amount of my time. Now that I've secured new work, I've got the free time to get back to blogging.

Obviously, the discussion of why Minneapolis and why not Cleveland is a huge one that I can hardly address in a single blog entry. I'll kick off this admittedly contentious debate by laying out the case for why I prefer Minneapolis to Cleveland. And, before I get started, a caveat: At lot of my explanation will involve badmouthing Cleveland. I apologize in advance for coming down so hard on this city, but sometimes we need a bit of hard truth to make progress.

So, to continue:

(1) Public spaces: Cleveland doesn't have any. The closest thing to a true public space is Crocker Park, and it's just not enough. If you want a thorough explanation of a public space, you can find earlier posts on this blog where I lay out a definition. The quick-and-dirty version goes like this: a public space is one of those places where there are tons of people, visible, doing tons of different things; where you watch and are watched; where you travel through and sometimes spend time; where you feel part of a public community.

Minneapolis, on the other hand, does have public spaces. To be fair, it's not New York City. But Minneapolis has a few great neighborhoods where people are out and about; walking; talking; interacting; visible; living in a public way. It's great!

(2) Economy: Cleveland's economy presents limited opportunity for advancement beyond entry-level work. Certain sectors are, admittedly, very strong (health care chief among them). But I (and a lot of my 25-35 year old professional peers) have been frustrated by the lack of opportunity to move up professionally. I personally know people who have moved to Portland, Seattle, D.C., and now Minneapolis in part because of limited economic opportunity.

Minneapolis, on the other hand, has a strong regional economy. There are many Fortune 500 companies based there (Target, Best Buy, 3M, to name a few). There were easily ten times as many job postings in my field (software development) compared to Cleveland. The sheer number of jobs tells me that the Twin Cities economy is in better shape.

(3) Regional planning: Cleveland is currently caught in an accelerating state of urban sprawl. It's all around us: cities fighting each other for the latest outdoor mall (er, lifestyle center); Avon wants a new I-90 exit; Medina is rapidly becoming the major Cleveland/Akron suburb; the outer-ring of suburbs is developing incredibly fast; urban poverty is left behind as a wasteland.

The Twin Cities, on the other hand, have institutionalized regional approaches to governance, taxation, and land planning. Wow!

Ok, I've written enough for tonight. There's a lot more to say. For the moment, I'll leave you with a pretty picture:


Anonymous Wartime Consigliere said...

In case of The City of Cleveland versus Mr. Stephen Gross, the charges of gross slander and defimation against The City of Cleveland: Case Dismissed!

While Mr. Gross outlined a few key points related to his exciting and upcoming move to the Twin Cities, as his Consigliere, I am bound by duty to elucidate on a few others, which help explain why he -- the Godfather of Urban Planning Blogs-- and the unnamed charming fiancee are leaving Cleveland:

1. More of the Same (aka "you want, you got it"): You want one Applebees, you've now got ten. No, make that twenty! Chow down and fatten up, Cleveland. You want to hear "Ain't Talkin' About Love" by Van Halen this hour and every hour -- well hear it everyday of the year. Rock on with that head-banging mantra: "more of the same, more of the same..." While Neil Young said "rust never sleeps," the creative side of our collective brains is sure in a coma. You want the same retail no matter where you are in the metropolitan area--you got it! You want yet another sports bar with a million televisions (to ensure no one has to engage in conversation), drink up, real men of genius.

2. Reward Failure (aka "next year, next year, people"): We continue to elect ignoramous officials who fight over a pieces of a shrinking pie, and do so because we think it is a good thing. Pfui! How about some progressive leadership for once? Try regionalization? Nope this won't happen, as in the words of George Bush Sr.: "Not gonna do it." Pretty soon these spats between insigificant cities will pretty much make Cleveland insignificant. I guess all these clowns missed the kindergarten lesson that warned: if your neighbor's house is on fire, your house is in danger too! Suburan Cleveland, wake up. And I was going to mention the Browns... Nah, let's just persevere as season ticket holders: Hey people, next year, next year!

3. Shifting Wealth (aka not building new wealth, just moving the same stuff around): Oh Legacy Village. Oh Crocker Park. Oh Southpark Mall. My panties are wet! Yes, we've grown so much and these meccas of merchandise (all the same merchandise, mind you) are a testament to that fact. Humbug. Has anyone taken a look at Euclid Square Mall, Parmatown, West Gate Mall? All dead. We've just shifted the wealth, moving steadily out and out. Inner-ring and urban wasteland is all that's left. Ugh!

Conclusion (aka what's behind the brain drain): Young, successful people appreciate variety. They are ambitious for success and opportunities that lead to growth. They want an area that is vital and not some shill game that moves that same quarter between three cups. Let's end on a happy note, singing together: "It's a death trap and suicide rap. We got to get out while we're young.."

1:57 PM  

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