Major Capital Projects Recently Opened, Underway or Planned in Cleveland
Updated July 2016.….Due in part to the success of landing the 2016 Republican National Convention, NE has invested almost a billion dollars in development to make Cleveland shine during the RNC and for years afterwards. Here are a few that you should know about:
Public Square Makeover – The epicenter of downtown Cleveland, Public Square, underwent a $40M transformation after years of neglect. Spearheaded by the City of Cleveland’s Group Plan Commission, this reinvention of our town square removed all vehicular traffic from Ontario Street (forcing cars to go on a roundabout around the Square) and limiting Superior Avenue’s traffic through the square to RTA buses only (but we have an inkling even the buses will eventually be forced to do a roundabout to keep it 100% pedestrian. Renowned landscape architect James Corner (New York City’s Highline Park designer) was the designer. As a result, Public Square lost thousands of feet of ugly grey concrete and it was replaced with a park that includes a dancing fountain that people and pets can walk through, Rebol Cafe, an event lawn for concerts and movies and a “ribbon” promenade that brings it all together. It opened the week prior to RNC.
Lakefront Pedestrian Drawbridge – Most of downtown Cleveland is disconnected from Lake Erie’s waterfront by the I-90 freeway, a 100’ bluff and RR tracks; for years, we have talked about the possibility of adding a pedestrian bridge to make the connection a bit easier and now it’s actually happening! The City of Cleveland approved plans for a 145’ drawbridge that will connect Mall C to Voinovich Park in front of the Rock Hall and Science Center. Although the original plan was to begin work in 2015 with work completed by 2017, this was not a priority prior to the RNC and not sure when this work begins.
nuCLEus Project – The skyline of Cleveland will have a dramatic new structure in the future as the city of Cleveland recently approved the plans for the addition of a 54 story building (making it the city’s 4th tallest building). Stark Enterprises is the developer and their plan is to create a mixed use building to house apartments, offices, stores, restaurants, hotel rooms, parking garages and maybe even a few dozen condominiums onto a 3-acre site in the Gateway District. Immediately nicknamed The Jenga Tower by locals for its resemblance to the wooden block game, nuCLEus is a $400M project that will add one more large pocket of residential living in the downtown area, which is at 97% capacity and each new unit is rented the instant it’s available.
Opportunity Corridor – The one spot in Cleveland that is devoid of quick freeway access is the business hub of University Circle, home to two major hospitals, a half dozen museums and our largest private university (Case Western Reserve University). To help move traffic from the western suburbs of Cleveland to University Circle and then up into Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights, master planners for the city of Cleveland have been discussing an extension of I-490 (a small feeder highway that connects I-90 to I-77 and the E. 55th Street corridor) since before most of us were born! However, the project has found viable funding and the $300M+, three mile long boulevard, mostly through the Kinsman neighborhood of Cleveland, seems to be a reality now.The project has been divided into three sections: 1) widening existing E. 105th between Quebec and Chester Avenues – in progress; 2) constructing a new roadway from Quebec to E. 93rd – will begin summer 2015; and 3) constructing a new roadway from E. 93rd to the I-490/E. 55th Street intersection – expected to begin in 2017. Designed as a 35 mph boulevard, NOT a freeway, the hope is that this will bring new life to a hard hit area of Cleveland known as The Forgotten Triangle that is one of the poorest areas in the region. It will have more than a dozen traffic lights along its path to encourage neighborhood development on each block. As with any major public project, there are those who love this idea for what it can bring to the core of the city desperate for jobs and activity and those who hate the idea because they see it as an urban cut through street that will not return this area to its neighborhood roots, but it is already underway.
Heinen’s Downtown – All economic development experts seem to agree on this point: when a neighborhood grows large enough to support a full service grocery store, it is a very positive sign. In late February 2015, Cleveland owned grocery company, Heinen’s, opened their first urban supermarket on the corner of Euclid Avenue & E. 9th Street (18 other stores in Cleveland and Chicago). Re-purposing the stunning former Ameritrust Bank Rotunda and Lobby, they created a 33,000 SF store in what is likely the most beautiful grocery store you will ever see. Look skyward to see a Tiffany stained glass dome that spills light into the store and look around to admire 12 hand painted murals, while all around are beautiful marble and wood accents. Attached to The 9 apartment complex, Clevelanders see this as a central gathering space in downtown with as much space devoted to prepared foods and wine tasting/happy hour areas as to traditional grocery items.
Crooked River Skate Park (The Flats) – Opened in late 2014, this high energy park added new life to a formerly dead section of Rivergate Park in The Flats where outdoor adventures abound (Ohio City Bicycle Co-op and the Cleveland Rowing Foundation are two other active tenants in this district). This 15,000 SF park, which was designed by Grindline Skateparks from Seattle, is open to the public. Partially funded by a $25,000 Tony Hawk Foundation grant.
Hilton Cleveland Downtown (Convention Center Hotel) – a $272M project that will be the host hotel for the 2016 RNC, the Hilton will be run by General Manager, Teri Agosta, a recent transplant through Executive Arrangements! It will connect to the Convention Center and Global Center for Health Innovation via an underground walkway. Atlanta architects Cooper Cary designed the 28-floor, 600-room structure, which will feature a rooftop bar, retail options, ballrooms and a grand lobby.
Parker Hannifin YMCA at the Galleria – When The Galleria opened in 1987, it was filled with high end retail and restaurants; but by the mid 1990’s, the developer realized that suburbanites were not interested in driving downtown to shop when they had easy access to nearby malls, and the residential population of downtown was nowhere near what it has become since then. But with the growth in apartment buildings nearby including the NineTwelve District (E. 9th to E. 12th on Superior, Chester and Euclid), there have been other ideas for how to re-imagine this beautiful glass space. The owner, Werner Minshall has donated 30% of the interior to become a 40,000 SF YMCA health and wellness facility (sponsored by Parker Hannifin Corp and run by the YMCA of Greater Cleveland). Currently the downtown Y sits on Prospect Avenue near Cleveland State, and this newer, larger space will allow it to add new exercise equipment, an indoor lap pool and group exercise rooms including spinning classes and personal trainers. Estimated open date is late 2015.
Case Western Reserve University’s think(box) (AKA Innovation Center) – To encourage innovative and collaborative thinking, Case Western Reserve University created think(box), a 4,500 SF space in the School of Engineering building that is free of charge and open to the general public (although mostly used by students and staff). It provides the space and the prototyping and fabrication equipment (3D printers, laser cutters, shop tools, electronic devices, etc.) needed to experiment and create. think(box) has become so popular that the school has committed to creating a stand alone structure in the former Lincoln Storage Building on Cedar at the bottom of Cedar Hill in University Circle. The seven story, 50,000 SF building will be one of the largest university based innovation centers in the country and designed to rival similar spaces housed on the campuses of MIT, Stanford and Rice University. Internationally recognized industrial design firm, Nottingham Spirk, is a partner on this project, and the first four floors open in the fall 2015.
Health Education Campus – In a rare collaborative gesture, the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University (typically affiliated with University Hospitals) are partnering to build, co-own and co-operate a new medical education building on property in the middle of the Clinic’s main campus. The Clinic is donating the land for the building, a badly needed update to the university’s aging facility. Groundbreaking began in 2014 and will be complete by 2016. The building will sit on the NE corner of Euclid Avenue at E. 93rd Street. This 165,000 SF building will provide space for all medical students who are seeking degrees from CWRU, including students from the university-based program and the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, who currently take classes on the Clinic campus at the Lerner Research Center.
Flats East Bank, Phase II – The Flats are about to return to their glory days when more than a million visitors a year came by boat, car and bike to enjoy the waterfront at dozens of restaurants and bars. The Flats was considered THE summer hang out in the 1990’s. But this re-invention of The Flats is designed for the long haul by erecting mixed use buildings that encourage a 24/7 environment that replaces the long strip of restaurants and bars that eventually imploded due to poor policing and too many bars offering college ID night specials! This version appeals to a much broader spectrum of visitors and boasts almost 300 apartments, a 1,500’ public boardwalk and restaurant and entertainment venues including a country western dance club (Toby Keith’s Bar & Grill), The Big Bang (dueling piano bar), chef Zach Bruell’s 8th Cleveland restaurant (seafood), Chef Steve Schimoler’s Crop Kitchen & Vine and more. All set to open by June 2015 in time for the boating season in NE Ohio!
Lake Link Trail Project – In what will be a dramatic and symbolic length of urban trail, the Lake Link Trail will connect the recently opened Scranton/Flats section of the Towpath Trail to the Lake Erie shore at Wendy Park. The 1.4-mile path will provide access to previously largely isolated resources for countless local runners, bikers and walkers. The projects, estimated to cost $15M, has had major gifts from the Cleveland and Gund Foundations and will extend to Rivergate Park in The Flats with a potential completion date in late 2015. Future sections, including one adjacent to the Superior Viaduct and a new pedestrian bridge to Wendy Park, are in the design phase.
Waterfront Plan – Many in Cleveland believe our town has missed out on many opportunities to add public access to the waterfront close to town (most of the access in the suburbs, with the exceptions of public parks, is privately owned real estate); but, finally, that seems to be changing. Architect Dick Pace and his development company Cumberland Real Estate LLC has won a competitive bid process to develop the 21 acres currently occupied by the parking lot for Voinovich Park, a grassy area between the Science Center and the Rock Hall and the undeveloped land north of FirstEnergy Stadium. On the drawing board, 1,000 low rise apartments that sit in mixed use buildings with retail and restaurants on the first floor and 80,000 SF for commercial office space. The developer has also discussed the idea of a K-8 performing school (charter, private or CMSD) to be part of this new neighborhood as well as a transient marina with paddle boats, kayaks and bicycles for rent.