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Economy and Business

The sale of the historic Higbee's may make way for a controversial skywalk
The Horseshoe casino's owner is trying to buy the building and build a skywalk with or without historic registry approval

Kevin Niedermier
Rendering of the planned skywalk between Cleveland's Horseshoe Casino and its parking garage.
Courtesy of Rock Ohio Caesars
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In The Region:

The fight to prevent a skywalk from being built between Cleveland’s Horseshoe Casino and its parking garage may be over. Casino owner, Rock Ohio Caesars, is poised to buy the Higbee Building where the casino is located.

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Rock Ohio hasn’t been able to build its skywalk because the Higbee Building is an historic landmark. The building’s owner, Forest City Enterprises, receives tax credits as long as it makes no unapproved changes.

The National Park Service, which runs the historic registry, has not approved the walkway. If Rock Ohio buys the building, it can put up the skywalk without approval, but it would lose the Higbee tax credits and have to reimburse investors who bought them.

Skywalk opponents say the structures block views and keep people from using sidewalks, where they might spend money in other places. Terry Schwarz is director of Kent State University’s Urban Design Collaboration. She says skywalks became popular in U.S. cities in the 1970s and 80s and not just to protect people from the weather.

“This was a way to create a secured environment to help attract people who don’t live in the city and were afraid of crime, crazy drivers and that sort of thing.

"Skywalks came out of that era, but we’re not in that era anymore. The city isn’t scary. It's very appealing right now and we should encourage people to take advantage of the amenities.”

But, Schwarz says skywalks do help people with disabilities get around more easily.

The Cleveland Planning Commission has already approved the casino skywalk, and Mayor Frank Jackson is expected to give the project final approval.                                                                                                                  
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