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Economy and Business

Cleveland reviewing lakefront project bids
Five companies are vying to re-vamp about 28 acres near the Rock Hall, Browns' FirstEnergy Stadium and the Great Lakes Science Center

Kabir Bhatia
Much of Cleveland's lakefront has been tied up for decades with maritime shipping leases. Now, with those leases being tweaked, the city wants ideas on how best to utilize two parcels near the Rock Hall, the science center and the Browns’ FirstEnergy Stadium
Courtesy of ML Schultze
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In The Region:
The City of Cleveland is reviewing five proposals to redevelop 28 acres of lakefront near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia spoke with Cleveland’s chief of regional development, Chris Warren, about what that may say for the city’s resurgence.
Cleveland reviewing lakefront project bids

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In recent years, Cleveland’s Convention Center, Horeshoe Casino and I-90 bridge have been among the projects dominating conversation of a resurgent city.

But much of the lakefront has been tied up for decades with maritime shipping leases precluding any sort of retail or housing downtown on Lake Erie. Now, with those leases being tweaked, or ending, the city wants ideas on how best to utilize two parcels near the Rock Hall, the science center and the Browns’ FirstEnergy Stadium.

Making plans
Chris Warren is in charge of reviewing those proposals. Cleveland’s chief of regional development says he’s considering mixed-use proposals for Harbor West, the 20 acres between the stadium and the lake to the north. There’s also a second area to the east.

“The other roughly seven to 10 acres are landsites within our Northcoast Harbor that’s already there. This where the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the science center and Voinovich Park and our E. 9th Street pier. So there’s some landsites within that area that are conducive to further developments. Here we’re looking for retail, high end restaurants.”

Walk or drive?
Currently, parking in that area is mostly limited to the garage next to the stadium. So the city wants to encourage foot traffic from downtown to the lakefront.

“There’s two pedestrian bridges. One is funded and going forward, which will be from the Great Lakes Science Center over to Voinovich Park. The larger project is the pedestrian bridge connecting the Convention Center Mall across the railroad tracks and across the Shoreway and then over reaching the lakefront right in the middle of North Coast Harbor.”

The proposed $47 million bridge has been submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation for a grant, which Warren says should be decided on in September. He adds that it’s crucial to the plans submitted by the developers.

Who's making plans?
Executive Caterers is interested in a single plot in the smaller North Coast Harbor district. California-based Stuart Lichter, who is redeveloping the Goodyear Headquarters in Akron and Hoover Plant in North Canton, is interested, as is Cleveland Architect Richard Pace of Cumberland Development, which restored the Baker Electric Building in Cleveland.

Beachwood’s Northcoast Harbor LLC only wants to develop the larger Harbor West area…and there’s a proposal from KUD International, based in Tokyo, which has redeveloped neighborhoods in Akron. 

Warren says the international interest speaks volumes for Cleveland’s resurgence.

“This is the first time ever that the city has positioned its land holdings on the lakefront to the private development community. We’ve done museums and stadia and civic projects, but we’ve never gone to the private development community. And it was a question of frankly how would they respond. It was a pretty positive response that Cleveland and Cleveland’s lake front is something we have a great deal of interest in.

Dealing with tenants
Warren says the interest wouldn’t have been possible without the renegotiated and expiring maritime leases.

“Twenty years ago that land couldn’t be used for this because it was tied into a legal obligation of the city with the port authority to use it for maritime. We’ve also made the decision to work in tandem with the existing stakeholders -- the Browns, the two museums, the Goodtime II -- on a consensus land use plan for Harbor West, North Coast Harbor, and the Burke development.”

He’s referring to Burke-Lakefront Airport, which could see its neighboring land redeveloped next.

Warren says the city is pleased with what it’s seen from the developers so far, and the invites for bids will come by October 1. A decision on which plan is adopted is slated for the first quarter of next year.
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