Umm, what’s going on with these hugely inconsistent downtown Cleveland population numbers?


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  • SCB
  • Render of the Lumen, the 34-story residential tower that ascends to Playhouse Square.

At the City Club “2021 State of Downtown” presentation Friday afternoon, Downtown Cleveland Alliance President and CEO Michael Deemer announced that earlier this year, the downtown area exceeded its population target of 20,000. He will now “walk to” his new goal of 30,000.

This announcement is more or less consistent with DCA projections last year, when then-CEO Joe Marinucci said the organization would soon adjust its population targets upwards.

“In 2015, we had 15,000 inhabitants, with the target of 20,000 by 2020, and with new construction, we will reach 20,000 by the end of the year. he told FreshWater Cleveland last year. “But now it’s time to recalibrate, and by the end of the year you’ll hear us talking about 30,000 [residents living downtown]. ”

Deemer on Friday mentioned a research collaboration last year with partners in the city of Philadelphia that produced “conservative estimates” showing Cleveland could easily reach 30,000 residents by 2030. He said there were a number of surface parking lots that could be further developed downtown, and that with both the recently announced Bedrock Waterfront Plan and Haslam Waterfront Plan, 10,000 more downtown residents would quickly be added. “We’re really just scratching the surface in terms of residential density,” he said.

The downtown area is, without a doubt, one of the fastest growing residential areas in Cleveland. Deemer told after the release of the US census this year, developers added 4,800 downtown apartments between 2010 and 2020. This includes recent buildings like The Lumen in Playhouse Square (318 units) and The Beacon on Euclid (187 units).

But neighborhood factsheets recently released by the nonprofit Center for Community Solutions show a much smaller total population. According to his data, only 12,165 people live in the city center.

This is a substantial gap. The number of the Center for Community Solutions is much lower than the 15,000 that Marinucci boasted in 2015.

Seeking to reconcile these numbers, Scene asked for clarification on the respective counts.

Emily Campbell, of the Center for Community Solutions, who worked on the fact sheets, told Scene she suspected DCA was measuring the population of a larger geographic area.

“It appears they are using the Downtown Improvement District which is larger than the Downtown Statistical Planning Area (SPA), which we use for the profiles,” she said.

“The city center is certainly growing,” she added. “It’s one of the neighborhoods that has grown the most since we last did this [2016]. ”

But when the Downtown Cleveland Alliance described its parameters to Scene, they were virtually identical to the Statistical Planning Zone.

“The geography that we follow for the downtown population covers E.30th to the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie to the Inner Belt,” wrote Jonathan Stone of DCA, in an email. “This includes areas served by DCA and our neighborhood partners, Flats Forward and the Campus District. ”

Compare this description à la carte SPA downtown.


As for the methodology: “We estimate the downtown population by performing quarterly surveys of downtown residential property occupancy and incorporating real-time results from other data sources,” Stone wrote.

DCA did not address the Center for Community Solutions numbers in its response, but it does appear that someone’s account is extinguished.

At Friday’s City Club forum, Deemer stressed the need to improve downtown retail opportunities and said population growth would lead to a “virtuous cycle” where more residents lead to more retail businesses and, in turn, more retail businesses would lead to more residents. While the gap can be explained by different geographic boundaries, DCA figures can also be exaggerated to coax this virtuous circle. This would be in line with the practices of other economic development organizations, which tend to inflate projections in the service of their promotional objectives.

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