When Cleveland's Group Plan was created a century ago, Teddy Roosevelt was President, Tom Johnson was Mayor, and the Rockefeller family still lived in town. Back then, architect Daniel Burnham envisioned a kind of outdoor civic living room that promenaded to the lakefront beneath gracious classical buildings.
Needless to say, much has happened since then. Today, Public Square and the Mall are often desolate spaces one must walk through to reach downtown's bustling centers of gravity -- the Warehouse District, East Fourth Street and the Gateway District.
Yet last year, Mayor Frank Jackson convened a group of civic, foundation, corporate and sports leaders to envision a new Group Plan for downtown. With $1.5 billion in physical development either planned or already underway downtown, civic leaders recognized that a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity would be lost if the Medical Mart, casino and other projects weren't better connected via improved public spaces.
The Group Plan Commission recently released its recommendations
, which include radical changes that if implemented would alter Cleveland's downtown for another 100 years.
Recommendations include removing Ontario Street as an artery through Public Square and allowing East Fourth Street and casino patrons to stroll through a new, signature public space; rebuilding the Mall so that it is transformed into a beautiful park for both visitors and residents; building a pedestrian bridge from the Mall's northern end to Cleveland's lakefront; and closing East Third Street between Rockwell and Superior so that it can become a green space and winter skating rink.
The Group Plan Commission is currently updating the plan and preparing to begin raising funds. To have your say, visit the public input stations at City Hall, Cleveland State University and Cleveland Public Library as well as this website
Source: The Group Plan Commission
Writer: Lee Chilcote