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What kind of place will Cleveland be in the year 2020?  The Connecting Cleveland 2020 Citywide Plan presents a vision of Cleveland as a community that has learned how to make the most of its strengths and has re-positioned itself as …..

  • a national leader in biomedical technology and information technology – with connections to the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, Case Western Reserve University, NASA and other world-class innovators
  • a center for advanced manufacturing – a national model for connecting new technologies to traditional industries
  • a community with connections to good jobs for all residents and connections to the education and training demanded by those jobs
  • a city known for safe neighborhoods that are family-friendly and senior-friendly, with first-class city services provided to all residents
  • a pioneer in improving public education through partnerships to provide resources based on the needs of students rather than the wealth of communities
  • a city known for its accessible lakefront and riverfront, connected to waterfront neighborhoods and unique recreation opportunities
  • a city of vibrant urban neighborhoods, with mixed-use districts and “live-work” spaces that attract creative and entrepreneurial individuals from across the region and the nation
  • a community where racial, ethnic and social diversity is not simply tolerated but is embraced and celebrated in every neighborhood as one of Cleveland’s greatest assets
  • a mecca for the arts and culture, with world-renowned institutions like the Cleveland Orchestra and the Cleveland Museum of Art joined by a vital local arts scene and public art in neighborhoods throughout the city
  • a model for healthy living and sustainable development, with walkable neighborhoods, bike routes, ecological design, and community partnerships to provide recreation opportunities to Clevelanders of all ages, incomes and ability levels


In crafting its vision, the Connecting Cleveland 2020 Citywide Plan is guided by the following principles:

  • Connections: connecting people and places and opportunities
  • Assets: building on assets in the city and each of its neighborhoods
  • Opportunity: “re-imagining” Cleveland to turn challenges into opportunities
  • Place: creating competitive urban “places” with character and identity
  • Choice: creating “communities of choice” in Cleveland for residents with many choices as well as for those with relatively few choices
  • Diversity: embracing and celebrating diversity in people, housing and opportunities
  • Sustainability: building a community that is healthful and viable

These are the principles that underlie the plan and are incorporated into its goals, polices and recommendations for the City and for each of its neighborhoods.  These principles will also inform and guide future actions on planning and development issues that emerge in the years after the plan’s adoption.


Planning Districts 1 6 and Neighborhood Areas*
*Neighborhood areas are known as “Statistical Planning Areas” (SPAs)


The Connecting Cleveland 2020 Citywide Plan is built on a foundation of plans created by neighborhood residents and stakeholders.*  These grassroots plans are the building blocks for the Citywide Plan, firmly grounding the plan in the reality experienced by those who live and work in each neighborhood.  By connecting neighborhood-based plans to a citywide planning context, Cleveland’s Citywide Plan is able to address neighborhood-level issues with policies that require a citywide approach.  Just as importantly, the integration of neighborhood-based plans into the Citywide Plan makes it possible for the plan to address neighborhood issues with a degree of detail not typically seen in a citywide general plan.

In crafting and presenting its vision, the Connecting Cleveland 2020 Citywide Plan organizes the City around clusters of neighborhoods, rather than wards, as was the case with the plan’s predecessor, Civic Vision 2000.  This neighborhood-based structure allows that plan to focus holistically on each City neighborhood as a building block of the larger plan.  In order to consider the interaction between neighborhoods, the plan then groups 36 Cleveland neighborhoods (also known as Statistical Planning Areas) into six “districts,” which closely correspond to the City’s six Police Districts and Community Relations Districts. 

Connecting Cleveland 2020 devotes a separate chapter to each of these six planning districts.  Within each district chapter, the plan draws a portrait of each of the district’s neighborhoods, identifying the assets and opportunities that characterize that neighborhood.  Issues that transcend neighborhood boundaries are discussed at the district level. 


Zoning is a key tool for implementing recommendations of the Connecting Cleveland 2020 Citywide Plan.
Neighborhood-based plans form the building blocks for the Citywide Plan’s future land use map.  Specialized zoning districts are being used in implementing the plan.


It has been said, only partly in jest, “to plan is human, to implement is divine.”  Plans that fail to produce results are, in fact, so common that the phrase “plans that sit on the shelf” has become a part of our vocabulary.  To avoid this fate, the Connecting Cleveland 2020 Citywide Plan has been designed to “jumpstart” its implementation by incorporating implementation strategies and capital improvement recommendations into the plan itself.

No plan, however, can implement itself.  Implementation of the Connecting Cleveland plan will require the coordinated efforts of all segments of City government and, critically, a precedent-setting degree of regional cooperation.  Many of the tools necessary to implement the plan are already in place, but some of these tools are outdated and need to be re-thought and re-configured if they are to be effective in realizing the emerging vision for Cleveland’s future.  An effective implementation strategy for the Connecting Cleveland 2020 Citywide Plan needs to include the following components.

Marketing.  Cleveland is a community rich in assets – from its location on a Great Lake to the excellence of its cultural life and from its national transportation connections to its affordable cost of living.  Effectively marketing these and other assets can attract businesses and residents to Cleveland without an over-reliance on financial incentives that deprive the City and its schools of the revenues required to provide first-class services.

Neighborhood Connections.  One means of improving the quality of life in Cleveland’s neighborhoods is to view each neighborhood holistically – with the goal of better coordinating and focusing the multitude of governmental and private services that are provided to that neighborhood.

Zoning.  Innovative zoning regulations and an updating of the City’s zoning map are core components in implementing the Connecting Cleveland Citywide Plan.  That process has already begun and includes creation of the City’s first research district, first live-work district, first pedestrian-oriented retail district, and the City’s first zoning district that mandates mixed-use, multi-story development – each designed to implement aspects of the plan’s vision.  Along with the zoning initiatives are design guidelines established to ensure that new development enhances the character of Cleveland’s neighborhoods and retail districts.

Capital Improvements.  The Citywide Plan identifies capital improvement projects that can be catalysts for the plan’s development recommendations – such as a new road or a new transit connection proposed to provide improved access for economic development.  In addition, the Citywide Plan is already being used as input for the City’s newly re-instituted 5-year capital planning process, thereby helping the City to make strategic use of limited funds.

Incentive Programs.  Financial subsidies have fueled much of Cleveland’s recent redevelopment.  The Citywide Plan recommends that current incentive programs be re-evaluated to ensure that they achieve their objectives in a manner that minimizes use of limited City resources.  The plan also recommends that programs be restructured or created to meet newly defined objectives, such as the promotion of “green” building, transit-oriented development, mixed-use development, technology transfer initiatives, and healthy lifestyles.

Funding Resources.  It is recognized that City resources alone will not be sufficient to achieve the goals laid out in the Citywide Plan.  Consequently, the plan emphasizes the need for creative partnerships between the City, other governments and the private sector in pursuit of the plan’s goals.  A listing of current funding sources is incorporated into the text of the full plan.

Community Engagement.  Meaningful and broad-based public participation is critical in ensuring that the plan has the community support necessary for its implementation.  The fact that the Connecting Cleveland plan is built on a firm base of community engagement is a good start, but the success of the plan will depend on a commitment on the part of the City and neighborhood-based organizations to continue that engagement.

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