CLEVELAND — While The Artisan rises on the corner of Chester Avenue and Stokes Boulevard, Cleveland is starting to get a better idea of what the "Circle Square” community will look like from the sidewalk.
Circle Square is the name for a series of new construction projects along Stokes Boulevard between Euclid and Chester avenues. Fenway Manor will stay where it is, but will be surrounded by a new Cleveland Public Library Branch, underneath the Library Lofts, next to a 23-story apartment high-rise, potentially all across the street from a 13-story office building to be built later.
“This is a big, unprecedented project in the City of Cleveland,” said Urban Designer Paul Volpe during the Planning Commission meeting. “We have arrived in the place where we can knit it into the city utilizing the public realm as the connective tissue.”
Stokes Boulevard will become the main street in the new community, passing through the middle of the new buildings.
Curbs will be extended banking streets easier to cross. Streets will be shrunken, giving more room to expand sidewalks, creating features for pedestrians, residents, and office workers in the area.
Volpe says the roughly 2,000 people he expects to be part of the the six buildings in the Circle Square community demand that the sidewalks and streetscape be designed to effectively and comfortably move them through the buildings.
The new designs effectively reverse years of urban planning designed to move vehicles as quickly as possible through the neighborhood.
“There’s very little that’s right about what’s here now,” said Volpe. “Chester Avenue is a speed way. It’s still six lanes, but we’ve reestablished two intersections on Chester and MLK and Stokes.”
Site Design Group’s Cassandra Rice told the commission the sidewalk will be made out of bands of light and dark concrete with various gathering spaces at the corners and along the street for people to sit, eat, and work.
Wide sidewalks would be next to sidewalk “living rooms” that would be peppered with seating and pavers in different designs showing passersby that it's a place to rest. Other nodes in different sizes would be more welcoming for individual people and smaller groups.
Today, Reserve Court is a little-used alleyway between Fenway Manor and the Cleveland Public Library’s Martin Luther King Jr. Branch. Volpe pointed out how small or no sidewalks, large walls with no windows, and dumpsters make it uninviting and often empty.
The new project would make Reserve Court a shared street, meaning it could accommodate vehicles when they need to use it, but could also easily transition into a plaza or extended pedestrian space when vehicles aren’t on it.
Planters would protect pedestrians from vehicles and shifts in the street design would make vehicles move through the space slowly.
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.
Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, plus alerts on major news, the latest weather forecast, traffic information and much more. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.