The CLEVELAND DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION was established in 1954 by local business leaders to assist urban-renewal and slum clearance efforts. It provided financial and planning assistance for a number of project in the 1950s and 1960s. Inspired by the work of Pittsburgh's Allegheny Conference on Community Development, John C. Virden of the Federal Reserve Bank, Elmer Lindseth of CEI, and Thomas F. Patton of Republic Steel proposed that Cleveland's business leaders organize a $2 million foundation to help finance and plan projects to eliminate slum conditions and promote urban redevelopment. The Cleveland Development Foundation (CDF) was incorporated on 23 June 1954 with Virden as president, Upshur Evans of Standard Oil its executive director, and a 21-member Board of Trustees. The CDF raised a $2 million revolving fund through membership subscriptions and the sale of 10-year, 4% development notes to provide seed money for urban-renewal and redevelopment projects. Its first major undertaking was the Garden Valley housing project at E. 79th St. and KINGSBURY RUN, to house people displaced by the clearing of urban renewal districts. The foundation also participated in the Longwood housing project at E. 40th St., the East Woodland Community Apartments, and Kerruish Park (200 single-family homes at Lee and McCracken roads).
In the 1960s the CDF unveiled a $500 million citywide redevelopment program that included construction of commercial, office, and apartment buildings in the downtown ERIEVIEW project and renovation of the Univ. Circle-Hough area. In 1968 the foundation was essentially merged into the new GREATER CLEVELAND GROWTH ASSN., with foundation president George Grabner heading both organizations.