CLEVELAND — The first visible progress towards making Irishtown Bend a reality in Ohio City could happen as early as Feb. 8, when “Big 8” could start to be demolished.
Heavy equipment was sitting next to the building Friday morning ahead of the potential work after the weekend.
“Local nonprofit LAND studio obtained a $1.4 million grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission’s Clean Ohio Conservation Fund, which covered the cost of land acquisition and demolition of these structures, which have sat vacant on West 25th Street for nearly a decade,” according to a press release from LAND studio.
Cleveland Metroparks is handling the demolition, which will ultimately remove two buildings along Detroit Avenue near its intersection with West 25th Street.
The other building is the former Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority administrative building right behind another vacant building on the corner of the Detroit Avenue and West 25th Street intersection.
Irishtown Bend is a proposed hillside park stretching from West 25th Street down to the Cuyahoga River that could eventually have large community gardens and farms, a playground, entertainment space, welcome center, and multi-use trails.
That recreational space will come after much-needed improvements to bulkheads that are 60-70 years old and struggle to hold the hill from collapsing into the Cuyahoga River.
Such a collapse would be devastating to the manufacturing and mining industries that use the waterway. NOACA estimated if a landslide occurred in the future, it would be a $3.5 billion dollar economic impact.
A few "before" shots of @IrishtownBend, January 2021. This extensive collaboration is creating a transformational public space for Cleveland's people, riverfront, and regional trail connectivity. https://t.co/e7MP3Ow2Am pic.twitter.com/3y5q8DkU1y— 𝑪𝒐𝒓𝒆𝒚 𝑺𝒏𝒊𝒑𝒆𝒔 (@coreysnipes) February 5, 2021
The President and CEO Port of Cleveland Will Friedman tweeted that the “stabilization phase could get underway later this year.”
Cross fingers everybody, stabilization phase could get underway later this year. Engineering/permitting is nearing completion. All the partners working hard to make happen. #gratitude https://t.co/42CshWsErh— Will Friedman (@WilliamFriedman) February 5, 2021
Irishtown Bend got its name from the Irish immigrants who arrived in the city in the mid-1800s, according to the Case Western Reserve University Encyclopedia of Cleveland History.
Eventually, St. Malichi's Church was established for the growing Irish population which lived along the riverside.
Much of the early Irish population left by the end of the 1800s and Eastern European immigrants moved in.
"The neighborhood went into significant decline and by the 1950s all that remained in Irishtown Bend were a few deteriorating warehouses," writes CWRU's Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. "By the 1980s no commercial or residential buildings existed there."
The Ripple Effect
There are a growing list of projects are being planned or are already underway that will tie into Irishtown Bend once it’s built.
A residential, retail, and hotel project planned for the corner of West 25th Street and Detroit Avenue is still in the planning stage for the current Cuyahoga County Department of Public Works garage and offices.
Planners say that project could eventually use the existing streetcar entrance for pedestrians to access the lower level of the Detroit-Superior bridge. That area might eventually connect to Irishtown Bend down the road.
Red Line Greenway
The Red Line Greenway could be finished in the next few weeks, connecting the Michael J. Zone Recreation Center near Lorain Avenue and West 53rd Street with the southern end of Irishtown Bend, near Hoopples.
Nearby Scranton, Peninsula has plenty of open land that developers are hoping can turn into new projects eventually.
“Thunderbird” was the original branding for the open space in the heart of downtown Cleveland, where Great Lakes Brewing Company has been considering an expansion.
Along the water, developer Fred Geis redesigned an office building in an attempt to limit the spread of disease during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brew Dog’s James Watt tweeted about Geis’ space in December, suggesting that his unique brewery business might consider expanding into it.
BrewDog Cleveland? Watch this space...... pic.twitter.com/8wsvNUCVOb— James Watt (@BrewDogJames) December 4, 2020
No matter who moves in, Geis says the area between the building and the Cuyahoga River is intended to be green space that could tie into Irishtown Bend and the nearby Centennial Lake Link Trail.
Have you ever noticed something interesting in Northeast Ohio and wondered, “Hey…what’s going on there?”
Us, too. We love learning more about what shapes the world around us -- the buildings, the spaces and the ways we move between them.
Next time you're wondering about some building, project or piece of land, send me an email at Kevin.Barry@wews.com and I'll look into it for a possible story.
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