Sunday, June 17, 2007

An Office... Downtown?

Good news for Cleveland (though I'm reporting this one a bit late)! Stark Enterprises (the folks who brought you Crocker Park) is
relocating its corporate offices
from Woodmere (an outer-ring suburb) to Cleveland's downtown. That's right, folks: a company is actually moving from the suburbs to the downtown core. Heavens!

Robert Stark (the head of the company) has spoken often about his vision for a vibrant, urban life in downtown Cleveland. As an urbanist myself, I was always glad to see his pro-center-city opinions quoted in the newspaper. Until now, however, it's been all theoretical. In fact, Stark's major accomplishment (Crocker Park) is a decidedly suburban achievement. Even though Crocker Park replicates some elements of the urban lifestyle, its location in the center of West Side Wealth belies any notion that it truly recreates the life of the city.

But by moving his headquarters downtown, Stark demonstrates that he's willing to walk the walk (or is it walk the talk? I forget). Hopefully his company will remain successful and his presence downtown will strengthen and grow. Then again, assuming he follows through with other downtown development plans it's really just a question of a real estate gamble: is there really latent demand for office, retail, and residential space in Cleveland's downtown core?


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