Seeking opportunity in the Opportunity Corridor

The Opportunity Corridor is finished between East 93rd Street
and Chester Avenue. Construction is starting on the boulevard
between Interstate 490 and East 93rd (ODOT).

This week I took a tour of the completed portion of the Opportunity Corridor, a project whose side mission is to change land use and turn dirt in a part of the city where the dirt hasn’t been turned in a very long time.

Road construction started by widening East 105th Street to four lanes with a landscaped median between Chester Avenue and Quincy Avenue. Work in this area included replacing a straight bridge with a wider, curving span over the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks and Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Red Line. Here, the rail station at East 105th-Quincy was expanded.

Then, the new boulevard extends southwest along the RTA Red Line to East 93rd Street. The next phase will link East 93rd to East 55th Street and finally to Interstate 490. That work is just getting underway.

Community development corporations along the Opportunity
Corridor have developed land use plans in preparation for the
completion of the roadway. Slavic Village CDC developed its
Hyacinth Transit Oriented Development plan with multi- and
single-family housing to capitalize on access to the East 55th
rail station next to the Opportunity Corridor. Both the station
and roadway are just out of view beyond the top of the image
that looks northwesterly (Slavic Village Development).
Burten, Bell, Carr Development Inc. plans a mixture of housing,
light-industrial and agricultural uses north of the Kinsman Ave.-
East 79th intersection, at center-left. The RTA Green-Blue lines
curve through the middle- to upper-right of the image with the
Opportunity Corridor to the upper-right of it. This view also
looks northwesterly (BBC).
Fairfax?Renaissance Development Corp. is advancing work on
Innovation Square starting with the two apartment buildings at
the left side of the image, next to an expanded Red Line station
at East 105th-Quincy. On the bottom of this westerly looking
image is East 105th/Opportunity Corridor (Fairfax RDC).

As you can see from the pictures below, the development signs and for-sale signs are already starting to pop up along the roadway. The city and the three community development corporations along the route have their land use plans. But property owners have their own ideas. How this road project will be able to “leverage the boomtown” that is University Circle for the benefit of nearby neighborhoods is still a work in progress.

So will the Opportunity Corridor be lined with gas stations and convenience stores? Or with biomedical labs and advanced manufacturing? Or with scrap processors and aggregates dealers? Or with light-industrial/warehousing? Or with townhouses surrounding apartment towers over retail near the Red Line stations?

What future will this $350 million investment by the Ohio Department of Transportation bring to this forgotten part of Cleveland? The following views are the “before” images. The “after” images will be interesting to see in the coming years and decades.

At the northeast end of the Opportunity Corridor-East 105th is
Ohio’s fourth-largest concentration of employment — University
Circle. The road will improve access to University Circle for
Northeast Ohioans with cars but how will it benefit residents
in the adjacent neighborhoods (KJP)
Remnants of once-crowded neighborhoods surround University
Circle, often within sight of it. Plans are afoot to “reboot” those
neighborhoods, including with affordable housing (KJP).
One of the few transit-related components of the Opportunity
Corridor includes the expansion of the East 105th-Quincy Red
Line station that lengthens the trackside platform and adds this
secondary street access to reach the future Innovation Square
district south of University Circle (KJP).
The area surrounding the East 105th-Quincy intersection where
the entirely new section of roadway of the Opportunity Corridor
begins. This view looks northeastward (KJP).
A sign of things to come? A sign for Innovation Square adorns
the widened stretch of East 105th where a dense mix of homes,
stores, schools, churches and businesses stood. The goal is to
rebuild this neighborhood with 21st-century needs, such as
homes, stores, schools, churches and businesses (KJP).
The Opportunity Corridor is going to be an opportunity for
someone. Whether it is an opportunity for those who need it
most will take more effort than just putting up a sign (KJP).
In 2019, this is as far west as the Opportunity Corridor goes–
to East 93rd Street. Construction is already underway to link
this roadway to the highway system at I-490 and I-77. Making
the Opportunity Corridor useful to surrounding areas, called
the Forgotten Triangle, where poverty rates of 40 percent or
are common will take years if not decades (KJP).
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