When empty nesters Joe and Sue Corsaro moved from Bay Village to downtown Cleveland two years ago, their prior knowledge of downtown made the life change much easier.
By that time, the Corsaros, for 10 years, had spent most weekends downtown in a Prospect Avenue condominium. It was conveniently close to Progressive Field, Quicken Loans Arena and Playhouse Square, where they always held season tickets. “At one time, downtown was like a vacant movie set,” Joe Corsaro, 61, says. “If we saw someone walking a dog besides us, it was a shock.”
But the Corsaros have witnessed downtown blossom over the past decade or so as the population grew. According to Downtown Cleveland Alliance, the number of rental units has risen steadily, from 4,857 in 2013 to 7,042 in 2017. More for-sale condos and townhomes are also appearing.
The Corsaros now rent an apartment in Kimpton Schofield Hotel at Euclid Avenue and East Ninth Street. They enjoy being part of the diverse downtown population.
“It’s nice to see downtown Cleveland come
alive again,” says Sue Corsaro, 62.
Diversity is also important to Jill Paulsen, interim CEO and executive director of Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. She and her husband, Deyampert Giles, are an interracial couple, and their daughter Ella, 3-and-a-half, is biracial. They live in a three-bedroom apartment on Euclid near Cleveland State University.
“We wanted to find a place to live that’s really integrated because we are a family of black and white,” Paulsen, 41, says. “We get that downtown because there are international students at Cleveland State.”
The Corsaros, along with Paulsen and her family, have found that many of the myths surrounding downtown living haven’t applied to them.
Here are some of those myths.
Myth: Transportation from, to and around downtown is a hassle.
Joe Corsaro owns a downtown retirement-benefits company, which is a two-minute walk from home. He drives to his law firm in Westlake, but the reverse-commute takes
only about 15 minutes because the heavy traffic is always moving in the opposite direction.
Paulsen also walks to work, while Deyampert rides the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority HealthLine to his job at Cleveland Botanical Garden.
“We work a full day but save commute time,” Paulsen says. “It allows us to spend more time together as a family.”
Corsaro admits that keeping a car in a garage or parking lot is an expense, but the savings on fuel make up for it.
After work, he and Sue can walk or take short Uber drives to their favorite restaurants, including Ristorante Chinato, Blue Point Grille, Hodge’s, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Yours Truly.
The Corsaros can also grab an Uber to the West 25th district, the Cleveland museums of art or natural history and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and
And they still love Playhouse Square, where performances are considerably less expensive than those in larger cities.
Myth: Downtown is not built for running simple errands.
Sue Corsaro says Heinen’s, which opened in 2015 in the historic Cleveland Trust Building, is directly across the street from her apartment. The store will even deliver.
Geiger’s, which sells clothing and sporting goods, is next door to Heinen’s. Sue can walk
to her bank, and a CVS Pharmacy and Maestro Tailoring & Fashion are nearby. A dry-cleaning store picks up and delivers, and Sue can reach Steelyard Commons by car in five-
10 minutes. “There are a lot of shops in The Arcade (Cleveland) now,” Sue Corsaro says. “They are trying to get more retail downtown, taking baby steps as the population
Myth: Children and families don’t have enough fun things to do downtown.
Paulsen and daughter Ella often walk to the Campus International School playground, which is open to the public next to CSU.
At the newly redesigned Public Square, the family can ice skate in winter
and enjoy a splash pad in summer. They can also pack a picnic lunch and take in a Public Square concert.
Ella is learning how to swim at CSU, practicing soccer in nearby Tremont and taking classes at the natural history museum. Paulsen escorts Ella to Cleveland Public Library and the botanical garden, where they visit Dad.
Also, the Children’s Museum Cleveland is just a 10-minute bus ride away.
Myth: A variety of affordable housing is lacking in downtown Cleveland.
According to DCA, average rents for efficiency, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments in 2017 were $730, $1,207, $1,767 and $2,302, respectively.
The average sale price for one of downtown’s 880 condos in 2017 was $259,845. Sale prices for condos and townhomes downtown ranged from $89,500 to $1.5 million.
Paulsen admits it wasn’t easy finding a three-bedroom home downtown. She would like to see more options for families. “I think it’s getting better, though,” Paulsen says. “They are expanding. There are more townhomes and condos.”
Paulsen is right. Zaremba Homes is planning a second phase of townhomes for the East 13th Street-Superior Avenue block. Also, the proposed Residences of Halle apartments, with two- and three-bedroom units, is scheduled to open this summer.
Myth: Good educational options don’t exist for children living downtown.
Paulsen says Ella is attending a five-star preschool, Bingham Early Learning Center, on Central Avenue. When Ella is older, Paulsen would like to enroll her in Campus International School, a K-8 school designed to prepare children for college.
However, CIS has a waiting list, so Paulsen monitors the Cleveland Transformation Alliance website, which ranks Cleveland schools. She hopes Ella’s educational opportunities will increase with the downtown population.
DCA acknowledges that the education scene is still evolving downtown. But according to a recent DCA annual report, the Transformation Alliance gave three downtown early-learning centers high rankings.
Also, DCA praised MC2STEM High School, in addition to CIS.
“Kids living downtown should have high-quality educational options, and if we can be part of bringing more of them here, that would make it better for everyone who follows us,” Paulsen says.