What's really going on with Valley View
by kris harsh
Wednesday, Jan. 07, 2004 at 7:06 PM
my opinion about what is going on with the Valley View "redevelopment" plan
So here's the long story short. They're going to demolish 243 public housing units and replace them with "mixed income" housing, including a paltry 95 public housing units (a net loss of 148 public housing units). Residents are being kicked out beginning this month but demolitin might take up to a year and a half (which means they could sit vacant for up to a year). Residents are being moved to King Kenedy North, Carver Park and Lakeview (all natoriuosly poor public housing areas).
At the meeting many people asked questions that caused the officials to turn in circles looking for answeres, many were simply side-tracked and avoided.
For instance, one man asked them to address the issue that 6,000 people in Cleveland are on a waiting list for public housing and now they're reducing the number of units, how does this help clevelands affordable housing shortage? Michael Bowen (the CMHA HopeVI coordinator) had the embarassing job of dodging. he replied by saying that 500 new units of public housing are being built, but later exposed his own answer as inadequate when he said that in each of the places where new construction is occuring, it is to replace a much larger number of units that have already been torn down.
Barbara Freeland (the Develoment manager for McCormack Baron and Salazar) didn't fare much better from the questions. At one point she said that the overall reduction of public housing units was an attempt to "create communities that aren't economicaly isolated". this near-do-well answer was also exposed when i asked how moving people into other, well established public housing areas, would reduce the overall amount of "economic isolation" in Cleveland, she couldn't answer. Mr. Bowen attempted by saying that King Kennedy North and Carver Park aren't as impoverished as Valley View.
This simply was not true. While Valley View may be home to many poor people, it is also located in Tremont, a neighborhood that sells $130,000 condos just four blocks from the "projects". Tremont is already a "mixed income neighborhood".
In the end (five years from now when the project is expected to be completed) what we will see is a greater concentration of poor people in Lakeview, Carver Park and King Kennedy North housing projects and a much more gentrified Tremont (which i'm sure they hope will help sell those condos, many of which are sitting empty).
While some residents in attendence appeared very pissed, others expressed disbelief. One woman, when i asked her said "i'll believe it when i see it, they've been saying this for years". unfortunately, it appears that the time has come.
One of the odder things talked about were the results of a poll conducted amongst Valley View residents asking them what they would like in terms of serives and remodeling. I call this odd because, of the 81 who answered, the odds are very good that most of them will not be moving back in five years. remember, there's only going to be 95 new public housing units built, and it's hard to say what will happen to anyone in the next five years.
This whole plan doesn't bode well for the future of Tremont Elemntary School. It seems like they want everyone out before the beginning of the next school year. Tremont Elemntary, which has already been targeted for closing, recieves many of its' students from the Valley View apartments.
It's particularly tragic because Tremont is not a bad neighborhood. The children currently walk to school with little risk of harm. Their experience is not likely to be the same in King Kennedy or the other projects they're likely to be moved to.
and finally, the money. lots of people stand to make a small fortune on this. Sutton Brothers (one of, if not THE, largest builders in Tremont) is already moving their headquarters to a building just one block from Valley View, no doubt gearing up for some big business. Tremont West Development Corporation also stands to better their members' pocketbooks in all this. The big winners here though is McCormack, Baron and Salazar Development Incorporated. This Missouri based company stands to make a fortune not only in overseeing the new project, but also in being the on-site management group and running the community services aspect as well.
If one wanted to get all nit-picky about the declining tax base of Cleveland and the need to create neighborhoods attractive to wealthy people i would ask them to question their methods. if we continue to isolate the economicly downtrodden into ever smaller areas then what hope do they have of bettering themselves financially. "wealth" is a fictional concept the closer you live to the center of a large impoverished area.
Furthermore, the 30 million or so being spent, could probably do a bang-up job on renovating the buildings and maintaining the 243 public housing units already there. if they need to be torn down due to structural problems, why not replace them with other public housing units? nicer, better planned units? reducing the availability of affordable housing in Cleveland does not advance the city as a whole, just those making money off the gentrification of one particular neighborhood.
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