University Circle Properties Development

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UCPD Inc. Company Logo

University Circle Properties Development, Inc. (UCPD, Inc.) was a commercial property development corporation established in 1968 in Cleveland Ohio. Located in the University Circle area at the famous intersection of Euclid Avenue [1] and East 105th Street, the area came to be known colloquially during the 1960s and 1970s as "105 and Euclid" and "The Block". Founded by a young African-American businessman, Winston E. Willis, UCPD, Inc. was the umbrella organization for a number of thriving businesses on the lower East side. After operating successfully for over fifteen years, and following decades of courtroom confrontations and legal battles over property rights, UCPD, Inc. and all of its popular 105th and Euclid businesses were demolished in 1982 to make way for the continuing expansion of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and numerous government sponsored redevelopment projects.

University Circle Neighborhoods of Cleveland in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, United States

University Circle is a district in the neighborhood of University on the east side of Cleveland, Ohio. One of America's densest concentrations of cultural attractions and performing arts venues, it includes such world-class institutions as the Cleveland Museum of Art; Severance Hall, home to the Cleveland Orchestra; the Cleveland Institute of Art; Case Western Reserve University; the Cleveland Institute of Music; the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland; the Cleveland Botanical Garden; historic Lake View Cemetery; the Cleveland Museum of Natural History; and University Hospitals/Case Medical Center. The area is also known as "The Circle" to locals. Encompassing approximately 550 acres (220 ha) the University neighborhood is bordered to the north by the Glenville neighborhood, to the south by the Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood, to the west and southwest by the neighborhoods of Hough and Fairfax and to the east by the cities of East Cleveland and Cleveland Heights. University Circle is member of the Global Cultural Districts Network.

Winston E. Willis American businessman

Winston Earl Willis is a former American real estate developer who established his business in Cleveland, Ohio during the early 1960s. He created University Circle Properties Development, Inc., which owned real estate parcels in Cleveland and was the largest employer of black people in that part of the country. Under UCPD at East 105th and Euclid, upwards of 23 businesses operated simultaneously. In the 1970s and 80s Willis ran afoul of tax and other laws and lost his properties to seizure in 1983. His ongoing legal battles with the city of Cleveland over ownership of his lands spans several decades, including his 2007 petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

105th and Euclid

East 105th Street and Euclid Avenue is the most famous intersection in the city of Cleveland, Ohio. The legendary commercial junction consists of several blocks from East to West between 107th Street and 105th Street.



The Euclid Avenue and East 105th Street intersection, originally known as Doan’s Corners, was the site of the old Keith's East 105th St. Theater, where comedian Bob Hope got his start in Vaudeville. University Circle Properties Development, Inc. was founded in 1968 by a local young African-American entrepreneur, Winston E. Willis. His purchase of the property followed a long and contentious legal struggle with the former titleholder, the Cleveland Trust Company and other Cuyahoga County officials. Questions were raised by University Circle Incorporated(UCI), the Cleveland Clinic, and others as to his qualifications to own and redevelop “blighted” property.During the turbulent riot-torn 1960s, local events e.g., the Reverend Bruce W. Klunder bulldozer murder, the Hough Riots, and the Glenville Shootout [2] had begun to trigger white flight and businesses on Euclid Avenue were being closed, boarded up and sometimes abandoned.

Bob Hope American comedian, actor, singer and dancer

Leslie Townes Hope, known professionally as Bob Hope, was an American stand-up comedian, vaudevillian, actor, singer, dancer, athlete, and author. With a career that spanned nearly 80 years, Hope appeared in more than 70 short and feature films, with 54 feature films with Hope as star, including a series of seven "Road" musical comedy movies with Bing Crosby as Hope's top-billed partner.

Cleveland Clinic Hospital in Ohio, United States

The Cleveland Clinic is an American academic medical center based in Cleveland, Ohio. Owned and operated by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, an Ohio nonprofit corporation established in 1921, it runs a 170-acre campus in Cleveland, as well as 10 regional hospitals and 19 family health centers in north-east Ohio, and hospitals in Florida and Nevada. Tomislav Mihaljevic is the president and CEO.

Bruce W. Klunder Presbyterian minister and civil rights activist

Reverend Bruce W. Klunder was a Presbyterian minister and civil right activist, born in Colorado. He died when he was run over by a bulldozer while protesting the construction of a segregated school in Cleveland, Ohio. Klunder graduated from Yale Divinity School and then went to Cleveland in 1961 as assistant executive secretary of the Student Christian Union at Western Reserve University. He quickly became involved in the city's civil rights fight. He had a passionate interest in civil rights, headed the local chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and led a restaurant sit-in in Sewanee, Tennessee in 1962. He was married, with two young children.

UCPD, Inc. was “…organized to plan and implement the redevelopment of Cleveland’s Euclid Avenue and 105th Street area after too many years of social indifference.”

Following his eventual acquisitions, UCPD, Inc. went on to develop and operate 23 small businesses at the site [3] employing more than 400 workers (most of whom were people of color), at a time when very little prospect for economic advancement was open for local minorities in Cleveland’s inner-city. The popular strip, often referred to as “an inner-city Disneyland”, was one of the most strategic and valuable real estate parcels in the city and flourished for 15 years.

The company's Euclid Avenue businesses included: •PlayLand Fascination ArcadePerforming Arts TheaterThe Brave New WorldUCPD, Inc. Offices Scrumpy-Dump Cinema New Orleans RestaurantBoon Docks Seafood RestaurantThe Bedroom LoungeMr. John’s HaberdasheryThe Record DenWig WholesalersCold-Blooded MenswearState Liquor StorePayMaster Money ExchangeBosa Nova LoungeWinston’s Place Fine DiningQuick-Pick Food & BeverageAdult Book StorePussycat CinexQuarter Movie ArcadeWinJam StudiosCircus MaximusUCPD Commissary.

The UCPD, Inc. businesses stood in the way of the city’s plans [4] for creating a medical- educational complex connecting Case Western Reserve University, University Hospitals, and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. [5] Willis had faced legal troubles with the city, including violations of tax law. He was convicted on a bad check charge, and while he was imprisoned in 1982, the city seized his properties and demolished them, freeing the land for the large medical development. [6] [7]

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  1. Encyclopedia of Cleveland History.
  2. Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, The Glenville Shootout (July,1968)
  3. Cleveland Press Showtime Pgs. 3-4. "Winston Willis’ Miracle on E.105th Street” (June 1, 1973) Emanuel Hughley, Jr. and Dick McLaughlin,
  4. Plain Dealer Front Page Headline. "Clinic Plans Massive Expansion” (November 8, 1980) Elizabeth Price, and Amos A. Kermisch,
  5. Plain Dealer Front Page. "Therapy Center Might Wipe Out Willis’ Businesses on Euclid Avenue” (August 21, 1979) Rice, Joseph D.
  6. Cleveland Public Library Periodicals Index, Club Date Magazine, "The Five Comes Down", (Fall–1982) Pg. 26 Majied, Verle and Blunt, Madelyne.
  7. Cleveland Press, Pg.19-A. "105th & Euclid Landlord Sues…"(February 8, 1978) Staff contributors.