A piece of Cleveland history is poised to get a major facelift. As we continue our "A Better Land" series, we're looking at the effort now underway to redevelop Shaker Square.
The iconic shopping district, which was the second of its kind in the country, is the focus of a community-wide campaign that kicked off Friday. The transformation set to take shape is in the idea-gathering stage right now, and those trying to write a new future for the mixed-use development don't want to do it alone.
"I love Shaker Square, I have so many memories as a kid," said Bianca Butts.
Butts is volunteering her time to get her neighbors to stop and fill out surveys.
"I'm glad that we're out here in the cold trying to get residents to give us their input on what they think should go into Shaker Square's redevelopment," Butts said.
All of them are getting a chance to share their thoughts and vision for the future.
"It is unique in that it is a project that is very much neighborhood-centric," said David Wilson of LAND studio.
Right now, several local organizations including Cleveland Neighborhood Progress are trying to determine what changes should be made to Shaker Square.
"It's a really important space that a lot of people care passionately about. We're not talking about the buildings themselves, the buildings are a national landmark and we wouldn't dare thinking about modifying or adjusting those," said Wayne Mortensen, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress.
The interior of the square which includes sidewalks, roadways and green space are all up for redevelopment.
"This is a piece of planning folklore," said Mortensen.
The changes recently made in the heart of downtown Cleveland’s Public Square were the catalyst for this project.
"It really showed Cleveland what was possible in public space in a really good way and it really allowed people to start dreaming about what might be possible," said Mortensen.
Those possibilities are expected to have a positive impact on Shaker Square, which is poised to celebrate its 90th birthday next year.
"The investment that is happening in Shaker Square could be a way to elevate the efforts that have been happening at a grassroots level for a number of years," said Wilson.
Buckeye-Shaker and the Larchmere communities are poised to benefit most from the redevelopment.
"If you get some overspill beyond the square itself it's going to help surrounding neighborhoods, particularly Buckeye which does need a lot of help," said Dennis Keating, a CSU urban affairs studies professor.
Butts is glad to see her community is getting a chance to guide the project's direction.
"The people who live, work and play here are going to be the ones who actually utilize the space the most," said Butts.
LAND Studio, which led the redevelopment of Public Square is a partner on this project. Early estimates show transforming the space could cost between $12 to 20 million.