For a century it stood as a symbol of Cleveland’s growth and the electricity it provided to make it happen now the site that once housed FirstEnergy’s Lake Shore power plant quietly waits to learn what role it might play in the city’s future.
Demolition work began over a year ago at the 60-acre site off E. 72nd Street leading up to the implosion of the plant’s massive 306-foot tall smokestack in the early morning hours of February 24.
The plant first opened in 1911 to meet the growing city's growing need for electricity, expanding over the next century to occupy much of the 60-acre site. It closed in April 2015 with many of the buildings rapidly deteriorating.
Early demolition work focused on environmental remediation, removing hazardous materials, asbestos and fly ash with $10 million of the $15 million demolition cost going to that.
“We completed demolition and cleanup of the former Lakeshore site this fall,” said FirstEnergy Spokesperson Jennifer Young. “That included taking down all of the buildings that had been there, removing the scrap from the site, putting down topsoil and leveling it and then seeding over.”
FirstEnergy’s plans for the site which actually pre-dates the east Shoreway that it sits on remains very much up in the air for now.
“Right now nothing formal has been proposed,” said Young.
“We’ll continue to do the environmental monitoring to make sure the site remains in a safe condition and we look forward to what comes next.”
As part of the demolition process, Young said the Cleveland Planning Commission requested FirstEnergy present a “best use study” outlining potential uses for the site.
The study included a variety of possibilities ranging from recreational, residential and commercial with options also including the possibility of moving the highway south a bit to allow for maximum use of the property’s lakefront location.
Young said those concepts are just that at this point with nothing expected to be announced for the site anytime soon.
"Right now we just look forward to the next step, we'll continue to own and maintain the site as that's considered. There is no timeline at this point for what may happen next," she said.