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$3.5 billion project reimagines the Cuyahoga River in Downtown Cleveland 20 years from now

Posted at 6:22 PM, Dec 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-02 18:35:43-05

CLEVELAND — The Cuyahoga River in Downtown Cleveland is almost an afterthought as it sits roughly a hundred feet below the city above, but a plan unveiled by Dan Gilbert's Bedrock Friday changes that. Bedrock, in partnership with the City of Cleveland and world-renowned architect David Adjaye unveiled its comprehensive Cuyahoga Riverfront master plan. The 15-to-20-year vision will reimagine 35 acres of the riverfront, transform Tower City Center, and prioritize accessibility, equity, sustainability, and resilience with the development of an 18-hour, 15-minute downtown.

“We are incredibly excited to present our interpretation of the groundbreaking work accomplished in the City’s Vision for the Valley. The opportunity to provide unparalleled access to the Cuyahoga Riverfront while connecting the area to the downtown core is realized through David Adjaye’s bold strokes,” says Kofi Bonner, chief executive officer at Bedrock. “David’s vision not only embraces Downtown Cleveland’s rich history and connection to nature but also addresses the demands of a world-class city by leveraging sustainable infrastructure and emphasizing pedestrian and transit modes to large activated open spaces.”

During the last several months, Adjaye spent time in Cleveland to devise a multi-faceted, future-state blueprint for the Cuyahoga Riverfront. The site under master planning features more than 35 acres of public and private land, primed for over 3.5 million square feet of new development and adaptive reuse projects. This includes the addition of 2,000 residential units, 850,000 square feet of office space, new parking, 12+ acres of public space and opportunities for future hospitality, retail and entertainment venues.

It converts 35 acres of riverfront, below an area stretching from Tower City to Gateway, into a mixed-use oasis where people will be able to live, work and play.

There will be several outdoor cascading terraces connecting the city above to the river below with pocket parks at various levels, but one of the main links will come through a reimagined Tower City with the elimination of one of the levels that will create more of a marketplace feel as people walk down to the river.

“In other words, we'll be able to put stores and kiosks and other things and great events and activities so as people are going through Tower City heading to that riverfront it feels like one of those really grand boardwalk experiences but enclosed,” said Bonner.

This part of the river is viewed as a year-round draw with its southern exposure providing winter sun and that terraced drop-off actually serving as a buffer from the prevailing winds off the lake, allowing Clevelanders to make the most of the river beyond The Flats.

"It compliments our vision that great cities need to have great waterfronts both on the lake and on the river,” said Baiju Shah, President and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Partnership. That’s important to them because having that aids in their efforts to attract businesses to downtown Cleveland that won't come unless they can draw the talent to fill their jobs, and young talent wants amenities like this project provides.

It is a 15-to-20-year plan, and the folks at Bedrock say their work begins tomorrow, working with the city on more planning and engineering. As far as when the public might see physical work? "I would suspect that 2024 is when you would actually actively see some real physical movement, if you will, around the riverfront. Assuming everything goes well."

RELATED: 30-year plan for the Cuyahoga River near Tower City could connect existing projects nearby

What’s happening on the Cleveland riverfront?