Monday, December 31, 2007

What Will Become of Willson?

Driving down East 55th Street the other day, a route I take rather often, I was struck by the appearance of Willson school. Closed in 2005 to be rebuilt in a different location, the abandoned building is rapidly falling into disrepair. For more than two years now, local vandals have had ample opportunity to take what was once a solid old building, a Cleveland landmark, and destroy it little by little.

How long will the school district let this go on? Is the building for sale? Are they waiting until it is so far gone that the only option is demolition? Does a developer in cahoots with officials already have their eye on the land, but want it at a blighted bargain price?

The longer it sits, the cheaper it gets.

What if, instead, the city made this a small business incubator? For the first two or three years the lease would be paid for by elbow work, then once the business had a chance to start making money, the city could start charging a nominal rent, increasing it gradually until the tenents were paying market rate. In just a few years time, the building would be in better shape, and the city would have a number of new businesses.

Cleveland has been very generous to the big real estate developers over the past few decades, doling out financial incentives and tax abatements for projects that have had marginal to, debatably, negative economic impact on the Cleveland residents. Perhaps if city leaders were as generous to the entrepreneur and the small businessman, Cleveland could become a hub for start-up companies, fresh ideas, real ingenuity, and ultimately, real jobs.

Posted by Picasa


Anonymous said...

I worked with some people who went to school there. There's a lot of history to that school. When East Ohio Gas Explosion happened in the forties, the school was used a shelter for the victims of the blast.

There might be an organization wanting to convert it like the West Tech Lofts...I think that's why the school's sitting on it. No developer is going to build something "new" unless there a major grant from the Feds.

janes said...

Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I will be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon. Thanks!
breast cancer treatment side effects
cancer treatments of america