After a surge of young, affluent professionals pouring back into big cities during the first 15 years of the century, people are wondering: What does the future of the suburbs look like?
As a city dweller and amateur urbanist, I’d like to think we’re working to close the urban-suburban divide — especially here in Cleveland — as the burbs become more diverse, dense and energetic, while the city becomes increasingly more livable.
The attraction to cities certainly fueled Cleveland’s downtown population explosion from a shade under 7,800 in 2000 to topping the 15,000 mark in 2017. And while downtown continues to add projects such as the 34-story The Lumen at Playhouse Square, this year’s Rating the Suburbs has a bit of a 1990s stonewashed jeans vibe to it — and that’s a good thing.
It’s been almost 20 years since Rocky River, this year’s No. 1 suburb, capped its three-peat run atop our rankings in 1999. Back then, the median home sale price was a quaint $168,000, almost a full $100,000 less than what River homes are fetching these days.
River’s housing market is so feverish that the median home sale price was up more than 25 percent from 2016 to 2017.
Part of the allure is the schools — the district has ranked in our top 3 in education since 2012. And while River comes in at No. 52 in our safety rankings, few would consider the town unsafe. In fact, the raw crime numbers are strikingly similar to those back in 1999 when River received an A+ for safety. But walkable streets, a quick commute to work (even via bike or public transit), access to the Cleveland Metroparks and Lake Erie, and a vibrant business mix all make River desirable. (One of my favorite summertime activities is watching the sunset at Rocky River Park followed by a scoop at Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream.)
You can make similar arguments about Beachwood, Westlake and Solon, which all rank in this year’s top 5 and offer their own blend of urban and suburban.
Similarly, Shaker Heights, our No. 2 burb in 1999, appears in our top 20 for the first time in well more than a decade, buoyed by a median home sale price increase of almost 24 percent over the past five years. And with the expected opening of the Van Aken District as the city’s new downtown later this year, that momentum may continue and bring city and suburbs even closer together.
6:30 AM EST
May 24, 2018