The ever-blossoming West 25th Street corridor in Ohio City has become a magnet for yuppies, hipsters, and others who love beer and fresh vegetables. Now the neighborhood’s community development group is casting a hungry eye toward Lorain Avenue heading away from downtown.
That’s where a German import house rubs shoulders with Crop Bistro, where a barbershop abuts St. Ignatius High School, and where a Wendy’s and a thrift store are highlights in a mismatched tapestry of retail offerings and vacant storefronts.
Ohio City Inc. wants to change all of that. And to show they mean business, they’ve come up with a name for it (“Launch Lorain!”) and a nickname for the stretch in question: “SoLo,” which appears to be self-deprecating shorthand for “South of Lorain.”
Last week, the group invited Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative to host three days of workshops with property and business owners, residents, and directors of area organizations. The goal is to transform the long-shabby stretch between West 25th and West 52nd into a destination, in part by putting up handsome signs and flower baskets — measures proven to ward off the kind of thugs who beat up old ladies.
But attendees at two lively, well-attended public meetings noted that addressing the region’s crime, indifferent cops, and plentiful selection of hookers might be more useful steps at this juncture.
“When my building got broken into, the police came and told me that this is what I get for living in this neighborhood,” says David Ellison, an architect who is rehabbing a forlorn building at West 41st and Lorain. “Before we look at adding fancy crosswalks, the city needs to fix the basic things, like potholes and crime.”
And if they can’t get around to that, a few more beer joints would help.