CLEVELAND, Ohio– “It’s becoming more frequent; people are frantically seeking help like I’m being priced out, they just upped my rent— I really can’t afford this,” says Alan O’Connell, President of Downtown Cleveland Residents. 

Alan O’Connell is the President of the advocacy group ‘Downtown Cleveland Residents.’ He says the economic development downtown is a good thing but says it’s important not to leave people behind.

“You know, that means the downtown is booming, and things are happening, which we want, we want continued development, but we want to make sure that we’re inclusive for everybody that wants to be downtown,” says O’Connell.

A 2018 study commissioned by the Downtown Cleveland Alliance concluded that downtown could approach or surpass 30,000 residents by 2030.

“The last ten years we’ve gone from having 5,000 or so residents to go in downtown to them pushing up towards 20,000 residents. And so you’re continuing to see building try to catch up with the demand,” says David Ebersole, Director, Economic Development, City of Cleveland. 

With lower supply and high demand, naturally, market pricing goes up. But city leaders say this won’t be a bad thing, as long as there’s an effort to serve the middle class.

“I’ve had a handful of projects that we’ve been engaged with over the last few months with people who are really looking to try to find more mid-tier rent market in downtown. And I think that that’s going to come along because the market is out there seeing that there’s a demand for quality housing in this area of the city at the price points you referenced,” says Ebersole. 

City leaders also say the current growth of luxury high-rise buildings is an example of the city’s success.

“And we want to absorb as much of that as possible. We also want to make sure that downtown, like all of the neighborhoods in the city of Cleveland, because we’re viewing downtown as a neighborhood, has the diversity of price points and products,” says Freddy Collier, Director, Cleveland City Planning Commission. 

From a resident’s point of view, O’Connell believes as more people move into the downtown neighborhood, economic diversity is the key.

“I think for downtown to continue, and to remain a dynamic fun place to be, we do need to take steps towards making sure that it’s more affordable for people who are already here, and also people who are maybe like thinking about that move to downtown. I don’t; I don’t want them, to say downtown is really fun, it’s really great, I’d love to just walk to my office, but I don’t make enough money. That’s a missed opportunity,” says O’Connell. 

City leaders say while concerns of current residents are valid, prices will continue to be determined by supply and demand.

“It happens that whenever you start to see an influx of investment, people automatically feel that, okay, prices are going up. We’re priced out, but if you stop and you start to look at, you know the numbers. I’m not sure that we’re at that point yet, where we’ve. Where, where, you know, Cleveland is pricing people out. I don’t think we’re there yet,” concludes Collier.