After living the Big Apple lifestyle, Amy Eddings and George Hahn returned home — albiet, not totally ready to give up urban living. So, they both rooted themselves in the Warehouse District and, in July, launched The Downtowner, a biweekly podcast from Ideastream that explores topics such as the LeBron James economy and toxic car culture. “I want people to care about cities and recognize their relationship to them,” says Eddings, who also produces the show. “You can live in Avon, you can live in Brunswick, but what happens in downtown matters to you. We’re all invested in making Cleveland work.” We talked to Eddings and Hahn, who also has contributed to our sister publication Community Leader, about the pod and whether the migration to our city center is more than a fad.
Who is your audience, and what are you trying to convey to them?
Amy: The Cleveland curious; the people who are living downtown. One of our listeners who’s listening out in California said: “Oh, it’s not just about Cleveland. It could be about any city.” My hope for The Downtowner [is] that it represents a larger conversation about the roles of cities in American life.
George: When I moved here, the question from New Yorkers was: “Why Cleveland?” With this podcast, I hope to paint a picture of downtown Cleveland that they may be missing.
How has the restoration of downtown’s historic buildings impacted urban migration?
George: Options for living in a building with historic relevance in the suburbs are slim. The conversions and the design of what’s been done with these repurposed buildings is attractive. For a lack of a better word, it’s sexy. There’s a glamour to it. A sort of cosmopolitan sophistication. And that’s appealing to a lot of people, myself included.
What is the biggest barrier to making long-term downtown living feasible for all?
Amy: Once you have that baby, the trend is: “I need to move to the suburbs for space and decent schools.” In order to keep the middle class, the city needs to solve the problem of its struggling schools.
Your podcast poses the question: “Is this new interest in living downtown a blip or does it have legs?” So, in your opinion, does it have legs?
George: I hope so. Downtown Cleveland is a solution for someone who is looking for an urban lifestyle without blowing through your bank account every month.
Amy: My magic eight ball says, “Signs point to yes.”