There's a house at Tanner Avenue and East 102nd Street with beige siding and a cute little front stoop. It's in the Glenville neighborhood, just up the street from Rockefeller Park and a short walk from the new Langston Hughes branch of the Cleveland Public Library.
Built in 1910, the three-bedroom colonial is in the middle of the proposed Village Project, a plan spearheaded by a group of 30-something city boosters who want to revitalize this area.
In the works for about three years with help from the Kent State University Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative and a few nonprofits, the project's first phase focuses on getting a handful of those same young professionals to purchase and rehab homes in the neighborhood.
But it doesn't stop there. They want to turn Tanner Avenue into a pedestrian-friendly focal point, with a public-art fence and a lookout into the park. They want to transform a vacant, historic gas station into a bike rental and repair shop, an old concrete building shell on Superior Avenue into an open-air event space, and a former library into a bookstore and coffee shop.
Ambitious and idealistic, it has also been slow and grinding. In a town and a neighborhood with so much need, other projects have taken precedence. Sometimes building coalitions can be more difficult than construction with a hammer and nails. And navigating the politics of government and neighborhood development groups and funding sources can be more fraught than avoiding potholes in early spring.
That's a lot to overcome. Even as the organizers are expected to receive their first home this month, I'm not sure the Village Project will ever come to be. But the passion and determination of the young professionals is noteworthy, nonetheless.
In the Village Project plans, that beige house on the corner is marked as one of nine homes for the initial wave of new residents. Back in summer 2009, pictures of the 1,300-square-foot house showed a well-manicured lawn, a new shrub in the front and a fresh fence. By last summer, the windows were boarded, ivy crawled up to the second floor, the fence was in shambles and everything was overgrown.
"We can let these neighborhoods slide even further downhill or move them forward," says Cleveland city councilman Jeff Johnson in this month's feature "It Takes A Village."
At one time, someone loved that house, took care of it, invested in it — and that's what it needs again.
12:00 AM EST
April 17, 2015