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City leaders raise concerns over pavilion building, skywalk in Sherwin-Williams' HQ proposal

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Posted at 2:42 PM, Jul 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-20 18:36:03-04

CLEVELAND — For the first time, representatives from Sherwin-Williams presented models of what the future of home of the company’s global headquarters in Public Square could look like during a special joint meeting with the Cleveland City Planning Commission Tuesday.

Presenters broke the proposed project up into three components: pavilion, headquarters tower and parking garage.

Pavilion
The two-story pavilion will be the front door of the organization that will house the Center of Excellence and learning and development. The approximately 50,000-square-foot pavilion is a bit angled from Public Square.

Headquarters tower
The approximately 36-story tower will house more than 3,000 employees. At around 1 million square feet, the tower will have a loading dock and central plant, conference, dining and wellness spaces.

Presenters said they took the view of Cleveland’s iconic Terminal Tower into account when figuring out where to place the tower to preserve views of the skyline.

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Parking garage
The parking garage will have approximately 920 spaces. Four levels of parking will be located above grade and there will be one level of basement parking.

Reps for Sherwin-Williams pointed out that the company made a conscious decision to not develop parking for all 3,000 of its employees, saying that some employees live downtown, and others take public transit to work. City leaders encouraged the company to use University Hospitals' garage as an example of being appealing to the public through design.

Additionally
There will be 2,500 square feet of retail development facing West 3rd Street.

Concerns over the sky bridge
Despite pushback about the sky bridge from the public and the city over West 3rd Street, Sherwin-Williams said it’s necessary because tunneling under West 3rd Street isn't possible with utilities under the street. Presenters said they need to connect the pavilion to make it function properly when they host events or process visitors who need to get to the main tower. The sky bridge will be secure and not open to the general public.

Members of the commission said they hope a revised plan either includes removing the sky bridge or, perhaps, a better reason to keep the sky bridge, arguing it doesn’t promote walkability.

Presenters defended the sky bridge, saying it wouldn't take pedestrians off the streets because anyone crossing it would be conducting business in the tower. The sky bridge would be for employees using the parking garage to get to the main tower.

Concerns about the pavilion
A hot topic of discussion was the lack of public access to the pavilion building. Members of the design committee also voiced concerns about the height of the pavilion and its lack of access for the public. They want the pavilion to be higher than the proposed two stories.

Alan O’Connell, planner, urban designer and president of the Downtown Cleveland Residents Association, spoke for the committee, saying the design of the property adjacent to Public Square, where the pavilion is slated to go, should be given the most emphasis.

“We won’t get another shot at it in our lifetimes to make sure we do it right,” he said. "The model really kind of hurts, you know, this thing that there's no visual unification around Public Square, and we miss the opportunity forever. It’s [Public Square] the most important property as it was pointed out, possibly in the United States. To fill in a missing tooth is incredibly important. And I’m very disappointed that it’s a two-story, semi-public, mostly not, pavilion — a paint museum.”

Tom Yablonsky, executive director at the Historic Warehouse District Development Corp., said suggested plans for the pavilion include rooftop public access to it.

What happens to the former office space at Landmark Tower?
Sherwin-Williams says they plan to sell that space and think it would be very useful for residential redevelopment.

Conceptual approval
The design committee granted concept approval for the tower and the pavilion, excluding the North Block where the garage would be located.

The committee approved the conceptual design on the condition that Sherwin-Williams would provide renderings of the pedestrian experience at street level, a traffic study with data and a study of the pavilion's height, which include possible public access to the roof.

Approving the concept endorses the general direction of the project's design, but it does not mean the proposal is perfect. It simply means it can be approved with conditions for future revision to move in "a positive direction," said Freddy L. Collier, Jr, director of Cleveland City Planning Commission.

RELATED: Sherwin-Williams’ new HQ will be tall, but it will also make the distance to the Warehouse District seem shorter

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