OUR CITY: It’s an exciting time for Historic Downtown
by Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland
Jul 24, 2014 | 894 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Some exciting changes are coming to our city's Historical Downtown Business District.

Those changes reflect our city's strong economic growth, as well as its commitment to historic preservation. And it's in keeping with our new motto, "The City With Spirit."

On Monday, members of MainStreet Cleveland and others were invited by Lee University to tour the newest addition to the campus and the newest structure downtown. It is Lee's Communications Arts Building at the intersection of Ocoee Street and Central Avenue and extending the entire block to Church Street.

Lee has been downtown's next-door neighbor for nearly a century. But like the city, the campus has experienced strong, steady growth over the years. Now, the thousands of Lee students and faculty are part of the downtown family.

Meanwhile work continues just across Church Street from the new Communication Building to transform the former First Baptist Church property into Pangle Hall.

Lee University President Dr. Paul Conn announced several months ago that integrating the old church property into the campus footprint was made possible by a major gift of property and money from the Allan Jones Foundation. Pangle Hall is named in honor of Allan Jones’ wife, Janie, whose maiden name was Pangle.

Pangle Hall will house a new performance hall. The property will include green spaces too.

But the university is not the only part of downtown that will change the future look of our city. Bank of Cleveland CEO Scott Taylor confirmed in the Cleveland Daily Banner last weekend it plans to expand next door into the former SunTrust Bank building.

When the bank's plans are completed, Bank of Cleveland will extend along Bobby Taylor Boulevard between Broad and Ocoee streets. The bank's need to expand is yet more evidence of our city's strong economic growth.

And it is good that Bank of Cleveland, founded by Bobby Taylor and others, can expand next door into what was once Merchants Bank. Early in his career, Bobby Taylor led Merchants Bank before retiring and founding the second bank.

The bank will soon occupy two historic downtown buildings, the Fillauer Building and the Merchants Bank building.

But that's not all.

United Way of Bradley County, just down Ocoee Street from Bank of Cleveland, is renovating its interior space to create a larger conference room. United Way's expansion illustrates yet another kind of growth. They need room to support their expanding role with the area's smaller nonprofit organizations, according to Matt Ryerson, United Way president.

United Way also occupies an historic location, one that many people remember as the Princess Theater.

The university, the bank and United Way are to be applauded for making our downtown business district even stronger.

Our city has several commercial and professional centers to be proud of — they go from Paul Huff Parkway to APD 40 with downtown being at the heart of it all.

Moving forward in The City With Spirit indeed!