Changing Gears is a public media project about the future of the industrial Midwest. Each week, reporters Dan Bobkoff in Cleveland, Niala Boodhoo in Chicago and Kate Davidson in Ann Arbor cover issues of interest to the Great Lakes region. Changing Gears also sponsors public events and conversations.
Big cities around the country are finally seeing the bottom for their dropping house prices, according to Zillow, Inc. The only problem is that it isn’t happening in two of our big cities —
Chicago and Cleveland.
Zillow, a real estate forecaster, says it doesn’t expect home prices in either of those two places to bottom out in 2012. That’s even though home prices nationally rose 0.5 percent, according to the Zillow Home Value Index.
Nationally, Zillow says home prices remain 25 percent below their levels in 2007. It doesn’t expect much of an increase in prices nationally this year. You can read a Bloomberg story about the Zillow forecast here.
Chicago and Cleveland are among 11 cities that are still seeing home prices fall. Others are San Francisco, Charlotte, Seattle and Atlanta. Places where home prices are rising include Phoenix and Miami, according to Zillow.
Home values are one of the things that are prompting people to adjust their expectations about the future. Read our Changing Gears Tumblr on Changing Expectations.
That’s billion, with a “b” The New York Times reports on a new $7 billion plan to rebuild Chicago’s infrastructure. The Times says Mayor Rahm Emanuel will announce the plan during a speech today. He says the improvements will be paid for without raising property or sales taxes. As many as 30,000 jobs could be created.
Amazon’s deal Amazon will build a $150 million distribution center in southern Indiana. The decision to build came after Indiana agreed to let the retailer go two more years before forcing it to collect Indiana sales tax. BussinessWeek reports the distribution center could eventually have 1,000 jobs.
Ask Snyder Partner station Michigan Radio reports that governor Rick Snyder will take questions from Detroiters today. The governor says he wants people to know the facts about the state’s negotiations to fix the cities finances. Many Detroiters worry they’ll lose local control.
Sixty years ago Wednesday, the first rock and roll concert happened in Cleveland.
The Moondog Coronation Ball was kind of a disaster. It ended in a riot. One person was stabbed. But it was also the first public indication of how hot this new rock and roll trend had become. Organizers originally hoped for about 10,000 people. Twice that number showed up.
The Ball was the idea of Alan Freed, the Cleveland disc jockey who first coined the phrase “rock and roll.” He’s the reason Cleveland is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. And every time you find yourself in a packed concert venue, listening to music that’s a little too loud and a little too fast, you’re taking part in a tradition that began in Cleveland at the Moondog Coronation Ball.
Officially, the anniversary was on Wednesday. But the Ball was held on a Friday, and right now it’s almost quittin time across the Midwest.
The plan was initiated by mayor Frank Jackson, and it covers 90 acres, including the existing Cleveland Browns football stadium and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. It calls for new pedestrian walkways, a marina, tree-lined boulevards and up to two million square feet for retail, restaurant and hotel development. And it opens up more of the lakefront to the public.
The mayor’s chief of regional development told the Cleveland Plain Dealer last year that total private investment in the project could reach $2 billion by the time it’s done.
At first glance, it’s easy to see why casino gambling is such a hot topic right now. Casinos bring hundreds of millions of dollars in new investment, including construction jobs and long-term jobs for dealers, waiters, cooks and others.
Much of the economic turmoil that happened in the industrial Midwest over the past 20 or so years has played out in our central cities. Even during times when the suburbs thrived, cities like Cleveland, Dayton, Detroit, Pontiac, Flint, Gary and parts of Chicago were being hollowed out.
On Monday, there will be word on the new members of a growing collection across the Midwest: vacant churches. The Archdiocese of Detroit is expected to officially announce which parishes will close or be combined with others across a six-county region, and the Detroit News says that could result in 39 fewer churches.
Vacant churches dot our cities — not just Detroit, in but Cleveland and Chicago, as well. But, like other empty places that we’ve reported on in the Midwest, some are being put to new uses.
One longstanding example is in Ann Arbor, where Hobbs & Black Architects have their offices in the former First Unitarian Church. The imposing stone building at 100 N. State Street was built in 1885, and was used as a church until 1975. Hobbs & Black bought it in 1985, and gave it a painstaking restoration, including a soaring Tiffany glass window.
We’d like to know about other churches in our region that are being put to new use. Please let us know about the ones in your city. And if there are churches sitting vacant, we’d like to hear about those, too.
Tell us how church buildings are coming back to life.