Cleveland: People-friendly makeover proposed for Public Square, downtown

6:44 PM, Feb 10, 2011   |    comments
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On Thursday, Mayor Frank Jackson's Group Plan commission unveiled a series of proposals to remake Cleveland's public spaces.

The study was timed to coincide with major construction projects like the new Horshoe Cleveland Casino, Medical Mart/Convention Center and the Flats East Bank.

For years, city planners focused on projects like sports stadiums, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Playhouse Square, while neglecting spaces between them.

The goal, according to group member and Planning Commission Chairman Anthony Coyne, is to pull everything together.

"I want to make downtown Cleveland so cool, our kids could go to college anywhere and want to come back to Cleveland," Coyne said.

Proposals include:

  • Adding reflecting pools, a theatrical stage and sports courts to the downtown Mall.
  • Shutting down Ontario Street through Public Square.
  • Building a bridge for walkers to connect the downtown Mall to North Coast Harbor.
  • Moving the Board of Education building out of its East 6th Street headquarters and finding a new purpose for it.

Planners believe the proposals could be paid for by corporate gifts, foundation grants, the sale of naming rights and state and federal funding. The price tag for phase one goals is $80 million to $90 million.

The release of proposals is meant to be a starting point for discussions.

Mayor Frank Jackson is generally backing the proposals.

There will be public hearings as things unfold.

RTA head Joe Calabrese says the transit system will evaluate the plans and take part in discussions, a diplomatic approach to a proposal that would impact downtown buses and traffic.

The idea is to make pedestrians as important, if not more important, than cars and buses in a new downtown.

"We've got so many things happening at once. We've got to  connect it all and totally pole vault," said downtown City Councilman Joe Cimperman.


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