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What's next for Cleveland's North Coast Harbor now that the NFL Draft is over?

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Posted at 5:52 PM, May 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-04 19:09:12-04

CLEVELAND — The NFL Draft showcased Downtown Cleveland and the lakefront to the world while opening up eyes to the potential of the site which has long been talked about for development.

In fact, on the Cleveland Planning Commission's website, you'll still find the Cleveland Lakefront Development Plan and its promise of a mixed-use neighborhood north of FirstEnergy Stadium.

Yes, the link is still active, the project which looked to break ground in 2015 is not. The city parting ways with the developer last year with an eye towards the bigger picture.

"We need to look at this as an opportunity and not just a site, parcel by parcel development," said Cleveland Council President Kevin Kelley. "We need a bigger vision for the lakefront that incorporates this site, that incorporates the science center the Rock Hall, Browns Stadium."

That will likely entail years of planning and input, what the city is moving forward with now is the concept of a land bridge applying to ODOT recently for $6.5 million to get the process started offering this rendering of the location they're looking at from Mall C over the railroad tracks and Shoreway to the lakefront.

It's the area that was home to a similar bridge during the 1936 Great Lakes Exposition. The price tag is an estimated $229 million.

"The land bridge is going to be challenging but it's something that is definitely doable," said Kelley. "We saw what we could do in one weekend but what if we had that all of the time. What if we had constant access to the lakefront."

A project that will be shovel-ready shortly is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's new transformative expansion stretching west along the waterfront.

"We're working on concepts and renderings and soon we'll be able to share some of them," said Rock Hall President and CEO Greg Harris. "We'll have community listening sessions to make sure we're going in the right direction with this but our ultimate goal is to lock the design by year-end and start groundbreaking next spring after the snow melts."

It's a project that, like the NFL Draft, will be focused on bringing life to the harbor.

"Our expansion is going to activate the lakefront even more," Harris said. "We're building at the lakefront, we're going to have activity on our music plaza in front of the museum and we're building things that aren't just for museum visitors they're for community access and community activity."

The Rock Hall work scheduled to be underway this time next year with the city hoping to learn from ODOT about that initial land bridge funding in June.