First Suburbs Development Council
F.A.Q.News & EventsLinks

What defines a First Suburb?
What is the difference between the First Suburbs Consortium and the First Suburbs Development Council?
What cities are members of the First Suburbs Development Council?
What are the criteria for joining the First Suburbs Development Council?
What are the goals of the First Suburbs Development Council?
What are the strategies of the First Suburbs Development Council?
Who is on the board of the First Suburbs Development Council?

What defines a First Suburb?
For the purposes of the First Suburbs Development Council and First Suburbs Consortium, a First Suburb community is defined as a city that has met the membership criteria set forth by the First Suburbs Consortium (scroll down for criteria). 

As defined by the Brookings Institute in their publication, “Valuing America’s First Suburbs, A Policy Agenda for Older Suburbs in the Midwest” the first suburbs are:

First in terms of development.  In chronological terms of the suburban experience, these places generally developed first after their central city and before the rapid suburban expansion of the last fifty years.  The time in which they emerged is reflected in their distinctive development patterns and based on the age of their central city.

First in terms of location.  They are usually in the first ring of communities, very close to the center city – and often began as bedroom communities for central city workers.  Some are referred to as trolley suburbs for the distinctive mode of transport that once brought workers to and from jobs in the center city.

First in terms of importance since these aging, mostly blue-collar suburbs are the places where many of our nation’s most critical issues are played out on a daily basis.

To view the entire Brookings Institute publication, please click here.

What is the difference between the First Suburbs Consortium (FSC) and the First Suburbs Development Council (FSDC)?

FSC – Est. 1996, Council of Governments, think tank/advocacy group.
Mission:  The mission of the Northeast Ohio First Suburbs Consortium is to initiate and support policies and practices that protect, maintain, and redevelop mature communities and foster regional cooperation.

FSDC – Est. 2002, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit development corporation.  Independent board.
Mission:  To foster Economic and Community Development in the First Suburbs.  The FSDC accomplishes this by providing technical assistance, expertise, and resources to member cities to strengthen the capacity of cities to advance development and re-development projects, to market their communities and to enhance the cities’ quality of life.

What cities are members of the First Suburbs Development Council?
Bedford, Bedford Heights, Brook Park, Cleveland Heights, Cuyahoga Heights, Euclid, Fairview Park, Garfield Heights, Lakewood, Maple Heights, Parma, Shaker Heights, South Euclid, University Heights, and Warrensville Heights.

What are the criteria for joining the First Suburbs Development Council?
In 2003, the First Suburbs Consortium instituted the following membership criteria (to qualify cities needed to meet 4 of 6) with two caveats being that a city would need to be located in Cuyahoga County and a member of the First Suburbs Consortium for one year before having the ability to join and access the programs and services of the First Suburbs Development Council.

First Suburbs Consortium Membership Criteria

1. Age of Housing Stock - 60% or more housing units constructed prior 1960.
2. Household Density - 1,000 or more households (2000 census) per square mile.
3. Low Household Growth - Less than 4% increase in the number of households from 1990 to 2000.
4. Infrastructure Density - 8 miles or more of streets per square mile of community.
5. Modest New Housing - Average value of residential new construction 1994-2001 less than 1% of average value of all residential real estate.
6. Below Average Appreciation - Total assessed value of real estate increase 1990 - 2001 less than county median.

The following cities meet the criteria as described above, and have the ability to join the NOFSC and ultimately the FSDC:  Bay Village, Berea, East Cleveland, Linndale, Lyndhurst, Mayfield Heights, Newburgh Heights and Parma Heights.

What are the goals of the First Suburbs Development Council?

  • To facilitate the creation or enhancement of a proactive and strategic approach to development within member city governments,
  • To expand the capacity of member cities to attract desirable development and businesses,
  • To increase the skills of economic development officials of the member cities in identifying and preparing development sites in a way that makes them both community-enhancing and attractive to private-sector developers,
  • To increase interest among the private-sector development industry in development within member communities,
  • To foster collaborative relationships among member cities and with regional economic development agencies, County and State government, financing institutions, and others who can assist in promoting development of the member cities.

What are the strategies of the First Suburbs Development Council?
Develop/update an inventory of major development sites for retail, commercial, industrial and/or housing development.  Identify, approach and forge relationships with private-sector developers.  Match and introduce developers to cities/sites.  Facilitate developers' awareness and use of public-sector and other non-conventional financing resources and incentives.

Provide project-specific guidance and technical assistance to city staff in pre-development activities.  Create and maintain a database and referral service of a broad range of development-related resources.

Serve as the gatekeeper for development best practices training opportunities.  Avoid duplication of effort by seeking out and encouraging members to participate in relevant training opportunities.  Fill in training gaps by producing customized educational seminars.  Serve as a forum for networking and cross-learning among member city development officials.

Identify sources of public and private development funds.  Develop new financing resources tailored to member cities' development needs including gap funding for pre-development, land assembly, construction and infrastructure. 

Advise and collaborate with Consortium staff and its governing board in crafting relevant policy positions and/or legislative solutions that address public policy or other trends, conditions or issues that currently hinder development in the member cities issues.  Provide development-related data/information to support the Consortium's other advocacy work.

Sponsor consortium-wide events aimed at marketing development sites to real estate development and retail industries.  Forge relationships with the real estate brokerage community and form collaborations with chambers of commerce aimed at attracting businesses to member cities.  Create, update and market a database of available retail and commercial space.

Who is on the board of the First Suburbs Development Council?

Mikelann Rensel
Interim Chairman of FSDC Board
Cleveland Neighborhood Development Coalition
Board Category: At Large

Yvette Ittu
Treasurer/Secretary of FSDC Board
Cleveland Development Advisors
Board category:  Real Estate Finance

Jonathan Berns
ORG Holdings
Board Category:  Real Estate Developer

Norman Bringman
The Hearing Aid Center
Board Category: Northwest Cluster

The Honorable Bill Cervenik
Mayor, City of Euclid
Board Category: Northeast Cluster

Howard Flower
Board Category:  Southwest Cluster

Pat Gammons
Team NEO
Board Category:  Economic Development Professional

Erwin Hines
Wake Forest Contractors, Inc.
Board Category:  Southeast Cluster

Bill Valerian
Liberty Bank
Board Category: East Cluster


©2003 First Suburbs Development Council