Cleveland gets sold down the (burning) river
May 20, 2005 8:28 AM   Subscribe

Cleveland bloggers are organizing against a giant suburban-style shopping plaza called Steelyard Commons (to be built on the site of the city's historic steel factories), which will include an immense Wal-Mart at its core. After City Council passed legislation in February to prevent Wal-Mart from adding a grocery store (causing the Bensonville bullies to "pull out" and scuttle the project), the developer was aided and abetted behind closed doors by Cleveland's mayor, Queen Jane. Despite the mayor's proclamation of "no public money" or tax abatements for the project, there's plenty of evidence to the contrary.
posted by (16 comments total)
These pinko libruls should get their own fucki... oh wait.
posted by AlexReynolds at 8:44 AM on May 20, 2005

I'd rather be a pinko librul than a mayor who's selling off her city piece by piece behind closed doors!

And no one ever tried to stop the entire project; rather, they tried to bring in alternative retailers that won't rely on the City of Cleveland's already-stressed social services net to take care of their employees the way Wal-Mart does.
posted by at 8:57 AM on May 20, 2005

I'm confused. Who now owns the land?
posted by Kwantsar at 8:59 AM on May 20, 2005

I'm checking now on who owns the land.

But even the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission's blog has commented:
As Ohio shifts towards a service-based economy, state governments (though not Ohio) are studying the overall economic impact of Wal-Marts and other similar retailers amidst assertions that they increase the number of working poor and increase the burden on government to provide low-income assistance to retail employees. This evidence counters arguments that attracting big box development, such as Steelyard Commons, would be economically beneficial.
Our city's constantly in the red. The new jobs this project will create will come nowhere near to balancing out the new demands Wal-Mart will place on our economy. Why Wal-Mart? Why not a Costco, which pays its employees a living wage? Why the backdoor deals? The public wants to have a say in city redevelopment. Another project, recently announced, did things the right way. That's the kind of development we need, not the insertion of a giant Wal-Mart in the middle of a historic district.
posted by at 9:24 AM on May 20, 2005

Why the backdoor deals?

Follow the money. /deepthroat
posted by AlexReynolds at 9:29 AM on May 20, 2005

Damn them for trying to build a grocery store. Who needs groceries?
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 10:49 AM on May 20, 2005

There are already grocery stores in that neighborhood. Dave's, for example -- a locally-owned, small grocery chain that invested money into downtown Cleveland years before any of this came up. They stepped up to the plate when no one else (locally-owned or otherwise) would, so now we punish them? They built stores in areas no one else would touch.
posted by at 10:52 AM on May 20, 2005

Cleveland has a long history of know-nothing populism, that over the years, has more-or-less driven away some of its most entrepreneurial citizens, discouraged investment, and generally given it a national reputation as a city that hates business. It was recently declared the poorest major city in America. That's because the city protects its poor, and takes care of them. It does not -- as it should -- nurture its risk-takers, investors, and rich people.
Consider this: Cleveland was the birthplace and home of John D. Rockefeller. At the height of his early success, the city government went after him with special punitive taxes, chasing him to New York -- taking with him the philanthropy with which he had originally intended to found what is now Rockefeller University in New York, and the University in Chicago, in Cleveland.
The same kind of knuckleheads who ran the city in those days, run it today. They don't understand that in a world where capital and business can go wherever they want, the People's Socialist Republic of Cleveland is not a hot ticket.
But Cleveland can't even do socialism right!
Consider Dennis Kucinich, who spent the past two years swanning around the country making a (bigger) laughing stock of himself running for President on an absurdly unrealistic ticket -- in the meantime, leaving his work in Washington undone -- that work being to PROTECT OUR PORK! As a result, NASA is going to cut 1,000 jobs at Cleveland's NASA Glenn Research Center.
Congresswoman-for-Life (thanks to outrageous racial gerrymandering) Stephanie Tubbs-Jones (D) is rarely in Cleveland OR in Washington, being one of the nation's top ten travelling (at other people's expense) congresspeople. Like Kucinich, she is a virtual far-left caricature, without the slightest clue of where jobs and money come from, if it ain't from the government.
bitter-girl wants to protect Dave's Supermarkets -- a noble idea. But if Cleveland wants to have a protectionist economy, its going to chase away every other national retailer who wants to do business in the city. Why go to a city where a city government has to rule on your political correctness before you can open?
The answer for Cleveland is to throw the place wi-i-i-i-i-de open. Cut taxes. Reduce government. Let it be known that here, we've got wild west capitalism. Bring your money. Bring your jobs. Ya-a-ahoo!
It's better than another 50 years of socialist stagnation.
posted by Faze at 1:37 PM on May 20, 2005

Point taken, Faze. We're not the most business-friendly city in the country by a long shot. But our current mayor was elected on a pro-technology, pro-attracting-business ticket (and many of us believed her at the time).

I'd like to see the size of government reduced (here we're currently discussing, among other things, the movement towards a county-wide coordination of public services to reduce the amount of money each individual city has to spend on maintaining multiple fire/ police departments, courts etc).

I'd like to see local business encouraged, not protected. (Dave's is only one example, but it's pretty glaring -- imagine you were running Dave's and you'd invested all this money in opening your inner-city stores only to have the city sell you out to Wal-Mart?)

I have no problem with the Steelyard Commons development as a whole, I have a problem with the special deals Wal-Mart/the developer is getting and the effect they will have on our already-dismal economy. Put a Costco in there, a Home Depot, an IKEA. Heck, I don't care. You didn't see the city giving Flats developer Scott Wolstein some special behind closed doors deal...yet he's pouring money into his development there, creating jobs and reversing the suburban-suck factor that's slurping Cleveland residents out to the burbs...
posted by at 2:21 PM on May 20, 2005

I appreciate what you say, bitter-girl. I admire the Wolsteins, yet don't hold out high hopes for his Flats development. What's to stop it from succumbing to the same forces that have done in Tower City? Is there enough high-end demand for what he's putting there? Would success in the Flats take business and residents from the Warehouse District? We'll see what happens...
posted by Faze at 3:00 PM on May 20, 2005

You're right, Faze, we'll have to wait and see...but I think there's a market for housing and businesses down there. The RTA stop alone is such a plus. And new housing always tends to be slightly more attractive for buyers in that market segment...compared to, say, some of the Warehouse District lofts that were really badly done. (I toured a few when I was house-hunting; I was not impressed. Loud, cheaply finished...)
posted by at 3:15 PM on May 20, 2005

What? Ain't that big-ass mall in Strongsville enough?
posted by jaronson at 7:22 PM on May 20, 2005

Um... It's Bentonville, not 'Bensonville.'

And I hate to say it, since I kind of hate the company, or at least their business tactics, but Wal-Mart has had grocery stores in their stores, epecially their 'SuperCenters' since, what, like the late 80s? If you're going to get a Wal-Mart, you're probably going to get a grocery. Having everything is kind of their schtick, you know?
posted by geekhorde at 7:28 PM on May 20, 2005

Is the Mentor Mall still standing? Bought my paperback Jonathan Livingston Seagull there before moving back east when I was 14.
posted by longsleeves at 8:16 PM on May 20, 2005

longsleeves -- If you mean Great Lakes Mall in Mentor, yes, it's still there. In fact, it's my favorite mall. Full of middle-class people happily consuming products, as the sun pours down through the skylight, and you can stand on a bench and look all the way down the vast alee of stores, t-shirt stands, and fast food emporia. Great Lakes Mall is what America is all about -- although the only bookstore there is a Waldenbooks (on the other hand, even a bad chain bookstore has more good books than than the average literary intellectual can read in a lifetime). If you want to see why our ancestors suffered to come over to America, why our boys died on the beaches at Iwo Jima, go to Great Lakes Mall, and feel the happiness.
posted by Faze at 11:06 AM on May 21, 2005

Doh! my bad, geekhorde...
posted by at 2:55 PM on May 21, 2005

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