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10 projects that are changing Cleveland’s riverfront

Cuyahoga River
Posted at 8:00 AM, Aug 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-07 08:00:29-04

CLEVELAND — Developers are finding plenty of new land to build new projects on, there is a long list of projects in the works that would go back to a piece of Cleveland that pre-dates Moses Cleaveland himself: the Cuyahoga River.

Wendy Park/Whiskey Island

At the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, the recently-opened Wendy Park Bridge connects the historic Coast Guard station to Ohio City. Visitors can drive out to the park, or use the also newly-completed Whiskey Island Connector Trail to get to the Lake and River, putting them in position to watch boats go in and out of the Flats and trains pass on the bridge over the water.

It’s already sparked new investment in the neighborhood.

Wendy Park Bridge
Wendy Park Bridge in Cleveland.

Commercial Real Estate Broker Terry Coyne bought a former manufacturing building at 2424 Mulberry Street with plans to turn it into an entertainment space, capitalizing on the trail that runs behind it. He’s banking on many more people using that trail in the future to get to the bridge and park.

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Coyne says work will start soon to fix up the building so potential tenants can walk through.

“It’s an interesting building that I knew was in an area that’s getting better so I figured I’d take a risk on this,” said Coyne. “Here I see a neighborhood that in 10 years from now will be different and the value will have gone up and I think a lot of credit goes to the Metroparks.”

Ontario Stone

Another project is already creating a buzz about investment that could come in the future.

Just south of Wendy Park, Ontario Stone has listed five acres of its land where it sticks into the Cuyahoga River to be used for future development.

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The Ontario Stone land as the sun rises over Cleveland to the east.

New development at the mouth of the river could also spark development farther south on the West Bank to help it catch up to everything that has happened on the East Bank in the last few years.

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An early rendering from Dimit Architects of what a development on the 5-acre parcel of land on this part of the West bank could look like.

To push the project along, Dimit Architects drew up renderings showing a 26-story apartment building, towering over what’s now flat land, that would be tall enough to mirror the Ernst & Young building on the other side of the Flats.

Flats East Bank

Phase 2 of Flats East Bank has already given that side of the water new life, but more open land means more opportunity for new development.

What used to be a grass plot is now being turned into multiple entertainment venues to attract a more diverse set of visitors to the Flats.

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New signage in the East Bank of the Flats shows what's coming soon.

One new building will have a live country music venue with a rooftop cigar and whiskey bar.

A second building at that site will have two restaurants: an Asian fusion dining location and a nightclub with a restaurant below it.

Jacobs Pavilion

Jacobs Pavilion isn’t new, but it’s hosting the inaugural Cleveland Championships—a WTA 250 event, part of the Women's Tennis Association tour that is bringing professional tennis to Cleveland.

The tournament, which will be held from Aug. 22-28 at Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica in Flats West Bank, will feature some of the top stars in women's tennis from around the world as they prepare for the U.S. Open.

Cleveland Championships will be part of the prestigious U.S. Open Series and will mark the biggest women's sporting event in Northeast Ohio.

Heritage Park/Canal Basin Park

Around the bend from Jacobs Pavilion, Heritage Park has been closed for months while workers attend to the underside of the Detroit-Superior Bridge, clearing the way for a park an additional water access.

Irishtown Bend

The groups behind the Irishtown Bend project continue to take control of the plots of land they need to create a 23-acre park along the Cuyahoga River where Irish immigrants once settled in Northeast Ohio.

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Renderings show what Irishtown Bend could look like in a few years when the hillside is stable and landscaping creates public space.

Two buildings have already been demolished along West 25th Street near Detroit Avenue. Another building was recently purchased by Ohio City Incorporated, allowing it to be an overflow shelter for a few more months before it is intimately demolished to make room for the park.

The City of Cleveland is negotiating with a local restaurateur and business owner for another piece of land that would help complete the footprint that Irishtown Bend planners envision.

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A marker tells the history of Irishtown Bend near Merwin's Warf.

The Cleveland Planning Commission approved zoning changes and an urban form overlay for the area bounded by Detroit Avenue, the Cuyahoga River, Carnegie Avenue, and West 25th Street. Right now, that area is zoned for its historical industrial use, requiring variances for many residential or mixed-use projects. The new zoning and urban form overlay allows those projects to work through the approval process more smoothly. The space intended for the Irishtown Bend Park will be zoned for Open Space Recreation. Other land will be zoned in a way allowing for some industry, but also retail and residential construction.

Brew Dog

Further south, the Scottish Brewery BrewDog plans to move into The Avian building on Scranton Peninsula by the end of the summer or early fall.

That building was already under construction when the coronavirus started with the goal of turning it into office space. Increased attention to how germs spread inspired developer Fred Geis to redesign parts of the building and the HVAC system to reduce the chance germs could spread.

BrewDog rendering
BrewDog will be moving into a recently-renovated office building on Scranton Peninsula.

BrewDog ended up picking the building as its first Cleveland location just around the corner from Irishtown Bend and within the area where the zone changes will cover.

Flats South/Whiskey Island

Cleveland Whiskey is one of the first new attractions on what developers hope to one day call “Flats South.”

The land is directly under the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge and across the water from Scranton Peninsula.

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The loading dock area of Cleveland Whiskey's new home could eventually be an outdoor dining and entertainment area.

It's one of the first steps towards a much larger vision held by Flats South Cleveland developers Rico Pietro and Joel Scheer.

They purchased more than seven acres of mostly abandoned buildings, parking, and vacant lots from Forest City Realty Trust in 2016.

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Flats South give visitors uncommon views of downtown Cleveland from underneath the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge.

“We had these buildings which were forgotten and someone needed to breathe life into these properties,” said Pietro.

Pietro says Cleveland Whiskey can be one of the first businesses to draw people to the riverfront, sparking the activation of other vacant buildings nearby or new construction on empty lots.

Safe harbor

The hope is to eventually create a safe harbor for kayakers and paddleboarders to float in along the Cuyahoga River near Flats South so they can get out of the way of large shipping vessels that come through the River.

Nearby developers tell News 5 that would make it much easier for people to use the water if they have an option to avoid one of the most intimidating parts of the river.

Stage 3 Towpath Connection

Recently-completed trail extensions closed the gap from Tremont and Ohio City to the Harvard Avenue trailhead.

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"Camp Cleveland" has become the newest home to new trail through the west side of Cleveland.

It connects the area behind the former Sokolowski’s through Camp Cleveland, behind much of Tremont, through Steelyard Commons, all the way to Harvard Avenue.

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The new trail uses some space that used to be parking to create a path for cyclists and pedestrians to use.

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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