Branded as the RTA HealthLine, the Euclid Corridor Transportation Project (ECTP) consists of a bus rapid transit (BRT) line extending from Public Square in downtown Cleveland to East Cleveland, a bordering suburb. The HealthLine connects two of the Cleveland metropolitan area's largest employment centers: downtown Cleveland and University Circle, home to Case Western Reserve University, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and several other cultural attractions.
Project Type:New Line Project Mode:Bus Rapid Transit Average Weekday Riders:15,385 Length (mi):7.10
Economic Distress:1.06 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):1040 Population Growth Rate (%):-2.17
Employment Growth Rate (%):-0.39 Market Size:1,315,012 Airport Travel Distance:14 Topography:5
Region:Great Lakes / Plains State:OH County:Cuyahoga County
City:Cleveland Urban/Class Level:Core Local Area:Zip Code 44103, 44106, 44112, 44114 & 44115 (Core Cleveland East of CBD)
Impact Area:Within 3/4 miles of station(s) Transportation System:Transit GIS Lat/Long:41.503662 / -81.633331
Initial Study Date:2005 Post Constr. Study Date:2013
Constr. Start Date:2006 Constr. End Date:2007
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): 2006 Planned Cost (YOE $):200,000,000
Actual Cost (YOE $):200,000,000 Actual Cost (curr $):231,108,135
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
Select a region to display the conditions for that region:
NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
|Income (in $M's)||89.67||0.00||89.67|
|Output (in $M's)||212.11||0.00||212.11|
With help from the HealthLine, a bus rapid transit system, Cleveland’s Euclid Avenue corridor has experienced a resurgence during the last several years. This case study documents the attraction of an estimated 1,120-1,600 office jobs, with the development of nearly 380,000 square feet of commercial real estate, along the corridor since 2008, when the HealthLine bus service commenced. Some of these jobs were relocated from other locations in the metro area, although the exact number is difficult to ascertain given available data. While its methodology is uncertain, a Cleveland RTA fact sheet on the HealthLine documents 13,000 new jobs and $7.9 million in commercial real estate development along the corridor. Similarly, one person interviewed for this case study cites $3.9 billion invested in development along the corridor and several adjacent streets since 2007, with another $1.2 billion of investments in buildings that are currently under construction and $168.5 million in proposed investments.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
The HealthLine stretches 7.1 miles along Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, stopping at 36 stations spaced at approximately quarter-mile intervals; the larger Euclid Corridor Transportation Project represents 9.2 miles of roadway improvements along and adjacent to the corridor. At a total cost of $200 million, the project allowed Cleveland to construct its first bus-only lanes along downtown streets, and make existing bus stations ADA accessible. Of the $200 million, approximately $50 million represents investments in transit infrastructure alone (i.e., stations, vehicles, and related equipment). During weekday rush hours, the HealthLine arrives every five minutes; traveling from Public Square in downtown Cleveland to the heart of University Circle takes approximately 24 minutes, according to Google Maps, while traveling all the way from downtown Cleveland to East Cleveland takes 38 minutes.
Several HealthLine stops are within walking distance of RTA’s Red Line, a train line that extends from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport on the west side of the city to the eastern suburb of East Cleveland. Travelers can now make HealthLine-Red Line connections at a new station immediately east of Euclid Ave. in University Circle. According to one person interviewed, ridership surveys indicate that up to 13 percent of HealthLine riders transfer to the Red Line—a data point that suggests the HealthLine serves corridor travelers more so than regional travelers. In addition, bike lanes running four miles in both directions serve part of the Euclid Ave. corridor. Ridership surveys have also revealed that up to 18 percent of HealthLine riders were attracted from private automobiles.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
From 2000 to 2010, the population of the neighborhood (using zip-code data) declined by 13.8 percent, from approximately 92,000 to 79,600 reflecting the influence of the recession. During 2005-2013 employment in the neighborhood also declined by 12.8 percent from over 150,000 to 131,000 reflecting that the economic recovery had been slow. This interval includes the Great Recession, which affected some Midwest cities the hardest, coupled with a slow recovery.
For decades, the Euclid Avenue corridor had been trending downward in employment, real estate values, and visual quality. The Euclid Corridor Transportation Project, which helped reverse this trend by connecting downtown Cleveland with University Circle, was described by one person interviewed as “...not just a transit project”; indeed, rights-of-way were widened, bike lanes were added, aesthetic improvements were made, and vacant buildings were demolished to complement the addition of the HealthLine. While stretches of Euclid Avenue remain underdeveloped, neighborhoods stretching from Playhouse Square, Cleveland’s theater district, to University Circle’s Uptown District have seen increased pedestrian and business activity.
Euclid Avenue forms the spine of MidTown Cleveland, a neighborhood bounded by Interstate 90 to the west and East 79th Street to the east—a stretch of just under two miles. According to MidTown Cleveland, Inc., a nonprofit economic development organization, the neighborhood is home to over 2,000 residents and approximately 18,000 jobs. In 2008, MidTown was designated as one of four Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Innovation Zones, and in 2010, an Ohio Hub of Innovation and Opportunity.
Cleveland’s University Circle neighborhood encompasses numerous cultural, academic, and healthcare institutions, including Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals, the Cleveland Botanical Garden and Children’s Museum of Cleveland, as well as the Cleveland museums of Art, Contemporary Art, and Natural History. The neighborhood is the second largest employment center in Northeast Ohio, followed only by downtown Cleveland.
Before the genesis of the HealthLine, planners proposed a “dual-hub” transit system that would connect downtown Cleveland with University Circle via an underground train, but at a significant cost. One person interviewed describes the experience in Cleveland as a “50-year history of considering alternatives and ‘making great plans that [couldn’t be funded].’” Eventually, RTA adopted a less expensive BRT option, ultimately becoming the HealthLine, a name born out of a partnership between Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals. For the majority of its route, the HealthLine travels in a designated lane.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
After replacing a bus line with an average weekday ridership of 9,000, the HealthLine experienced a 40 percent spike in ridership during its first year; currently, the line serves 16,000 riders on an average weekday. As a point of comparison, average weekday ridership on the Red Line is 20,000. Ridership on the HealthLine peaks in the mornings and evenings, but also reaches a steady plateau at midday as students and healthcare workers with staggered shifts use the service. During peak periods, a HealthLine bus arrives every five minutes, on average; at midday, buses arrive every seven to eight minutes. The HealthLine’s dedicated lanes support this high service frequency.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
Several people interviewed believe the HealthLine has had a significant positive economic impact on the Euclid Corridor by inducing private investment in new commercial real estate projects. Doing so has provided an option for companies that want to be located in the inner city but may be unable or unwilling to pay a premium for downtown office space. Conversely, other companies have moved to the corridor to have access to University Circle and its mix of academic and healthcare institutions. Among existing businesses along Euclid Ave., one person interviewed believes that workforce recruitment has also become easier due to the ease with which employees can commute into and out of the corridor.
Neighborhoods along the corridor have also experienced a wave of mixed housing and retail development within walking distance of HealthLine stops. While residential and retail projects create a limited number of permanent and well-paying jobs, their ability to create places where young, highly skilled workers want to live can in turn attract companies that export high-value goods and services. The relocation of Rosetta, a marketing agency based in New Jersey with offices in the Cleveland region, offers proof of this. In 2010, the company announced plans to bring 400 jobs from its suburban Cleveland offices into a vacant building on Euclid Ave. in downtown Cleveland. According to the company’s president, Kurt Holstein, “Most of our staff are under the age of 40...We’re hiring college graduates who are interested in a dynamic, urban environment, which Cleveland offers, particularly in the East Fourth Street area that we’re relocating to.”
In downtown Cleveland, at the beginning of the HealthLine’s route, several large apartment buildings have recently opened, including The Residences at 668, with 236 units and first-floor retail, and The 9, with 184 units. In the Uptown District, which extends along Euclid Ave. from Mayfield Road to East 117th Street (roughly), developers have started on Intesa, a five-building complex slated to open in 2016 that will include 100,000 square feet of office space, 96 apartments, and designated student housing. If Intesa achieves 85.7 percent office occupancy—the current average in the eastern portion of the Cleveland metro—the development could host between 190-380 jobs, a value based on average square feet to employee ratios for office space. The Intesa site is adjacent to a new RTA Red Line station, and less than a five-minute walk from the HealthLine.
Other planned developments that would take advantage of University Circle’s proximity to the HealthLine include One University Circle, a 20-story, 280-unit luxury apartment building, and University Circle City Center (UC3), a cluster of buildings covering five acres that could include over 700 apartments plus townhouses, retail, offices, and open space. Importantly, one interviewee believes the HealthLine has helped send a message to large employers in University Circle, especially, that Euclid Ave. is their “front door.”
The HealthLine has also accelerated the growth of the “Health-Tech Corridor”–the marketing name for Euclid Avenue and several adjacent streets between downtown and the Uptown District—an area targeted for the attraction and expansion of health- and technology-oriented businesses. In 2011, the MidTown Tech Park opened approximately halfway between downtown Cleveland and University Circle. A third building was added as of 2013, bringing the total office space to 240,000 square feet. JumpStart, Inc., an organization providing support to entrepreneurs, currently occupies the Tech Park, as well as the Cleveland HealthLab, Chamberlain College of Nursing, Cleveland Eye Bank, and several other organizations. At the end of 2014, the Tech Park was 76 percent leased with 344 jobs.
Several blocks west of the Tech Park, University Hospitals intends to open a health clinic in late 2017 or early 2018 that could eventually occupy 11 acres. According to news coverage, University Hospital’s planned expansion site, together with land purchased by Hemingway Development for a mixed-use development project, could support over 250 jobs and 150,000 square feet of space. According to one person interviewed, of this total, an estimated 44 jobs and 30,000-40,000 square feet will be associated with the clinic alone. In early October 2015, the site master plan won approval from two City of Cleveland boards, and construction is expected to begin in the spring 2016. Regarding to the hospital’s plan to shift the clinic from its main campus, The Plain Dealer remarks that “Access to buses, including the Euclid Avenue HealthLine, is key for [an existing] facility that sees 45,000 annual visitors, with more than 70 percent of them arriving by public transportation.” Anticipating continued reliance on transit among patients, University Hospitals plans to locate a HealthLine stop directly outside its new clinic.
An overall trend of economic resurgence throughout the Cleveland metro (inclusive of Cuyahoga County plus four surrounding counties) has buoyed Euclid Avenue’s success. From 2010-2013, total employment in the region grew from 1.24 million to 1.29 million (3.9%) after declining from 2007-2010 (during and immediately following the Great Recession). Noting economic drivers such as LeBron James’s return to the Cavaliers and the anticipated 2016 Republican National Convention, Mark Schweitzer of the Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank said in January 2015 that the city is “enjoying a genuine turnaround.”
Downtown Cleveland, especially, has also benefitted from a “brain gain”; from 2000-2013, close to 2,000 college-educated residents between the ages of 18-34 moved downtown, representing an increase of over 100 percent. This demographic trend has been attributed in part to the city’s improved quality-of-life (e.g., walkability, access to retail) and employment opportunities in industries requiring advanced degrees, such as healthcare and education.
In the Euclid Corridor, strong support from city officials and the local community development corporations have helped to market the Downtown, MidTown and University Circle neighborhoods. A zoning overlay in MidTown attempts to ensure compatibility between new land use in the corridor and the BRT line. In general, land use planning is relatively hands off, with no specific density bonuses or other features to encourage redevelopment. The city, however, does offer a number of financial incentives to encourage revitalization throughout Cleveland that are available to developers in the corridor. In addition, Cleveland Regional Transit Authority runs an active transit-oriented development program that interfaces with developers, property owners, and community development corporations.
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Greater Cleveland Partnership
University Circle, Inc.
MidTown Cleveland, Inc.
Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
Case Study Developed by Economic Development Research Group, Inc.