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Neighborhood Retail Commercial Study: Cleveland, Ohio
All Maxine Goodman Levin School of Urban Affairs Publications
  • Kirby Date, Cleveland State University
  • Robert A. Simons, Cleveland State University
  • Matthew Martin Thomas
  • Larry LaPrade
  • Rachel Oscar
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While affordable housing is the foundation of neighborhood revitalization, retail commercial development is also a pressing development issue facing urban legacy city neighborhoods. Retail opportunity in urban legacy city neighborhoods has been decimated over many years as population has declined, and competing commercial centers have blossomed. And yet, retail commercial development holds opportunities for local community resident investment and entrepreneurship, training of youth and others in entry-level jobs, and creation of vibrant opportunities for resident and business interaction.

This project was defined to answer some critical questions about retail development in urban neighborhoods. What are the typical urban shopping patterns, as opposed to the suburban patterns that are used in standard market studies? How do households with varying purchasing power drive the economic demand in their neighborhoods – and what role do outside shoppers play? In the shadow of significant general merchandise and big-box retail development, what could and should be the “critical mass” of retail development in a typical neighborhood main street that can thrive, and for which neighborhood developers and merchants’ associations can strive?

To study these questions, six typical neighborhoods in Cleveland were selected for analysis. Methodology included a survey of over 700 residents and visitors at neighborhood events; interviews of key informants in the banking, real estate, CDC, nonprofit, merchant and City sectors; competitor analysis; demographic and employment analysis; a detailed inventory of neighborhood businesses; and a niche analysis of supply and demand in each neighborhood. Neighborhoods were also compared to each other.

Findings included a higher level of neighborhood loyalty to convenient local shopping than might be expected, perhaps a reflection of the high proportion of households without access to a car; and sizeable leakage in multiple categories. Beauty salons and barber shops, auto repair, grocery, convenience, and full service restaurants showed the greatest strength across all neighborhoods. There was no apparent pattern of retail square footage quantity in relation to population, households or neighborhood Primary Market Area purchasing power. Findings underscore the need for continued focus on housing, critical mass in close proximity, strengthening neighborhood anchor assets, and promoting business success strategies in order to support viable commercial retail main streets in the long term.

Citation Information
Kirby Date, Robert A. Simons, Matthew Martin Thomas, Larry LaPrade, et al.. "Neighborhood Retail Commercial Study: Cleveland, Ohio" (2016) p. 1 - 115
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