CLEVELAND — For more than a century the overlook from Cleveland’s Mall C has been the essential end of downtown, cut off from the lake by the Shoreway and railroad tracks but imagine if it weren't the ending but rather the beginning of a long winding trail down to the lake.
Thanks to Cleveland Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam, you no longer have to use your imagination and you can see it as the Browns released renderings of the work commissioned by the Haslams working with teams of architects to come up with a transformative vision for the area involving a tree-lined land bridge sloping down to the stadium and Science Center.
On the North Coast Harbor site recently cleared for the NFL Draft, there would be a mix of park space and development including a feature that would open the stadium to the lake. The City of Cleveland last month applied for a $6.5 million Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC) funding to get the process started with the estimated total price tag of $229 million. The area of the bridge is the same space used for a temporary walkway during the 1936 Great Lakes Exposition.
In a statement, the Haslams, who have been working closely with the city, recognize this won't happen overnight.
“There is a long road ahead for a project of this magnitude. Still, it must start with a vision, which will be appropriately studied, vetted and modified based on input from community stakeholders,” the Haslams statement read in part.
"We appreciate the opportunity to help further Mayor Jackson's vision for properly connecting downtown to Cleveland's greatest natural resource, the lake," Dee and Jimmy Haslam said. "Lakefront connectivity has long been a complicated issue for our region, and a long-term solution has been elusive. Our preliminary vision, led by a landscape architect with experience around the world, intends to create a transformational pedestrian pathway unlocking public spaces and significant development opportunities on the lakefront.
“It would create year-round destinations accessible to our entire region, provide direct connections to nature and result in substantial economic development while driving density and engagement in the lakefront neighborhood our community shares.”
Those walking Mall C Monday applauded the idea of one day not having to stop at Mall C's overlook.
"I think it would be great to have a flow down to the lake where people could actually have access to the Waterfront in a way that we really haven’t,” said Vern Patterson of Solon.
Lydia Cassard is originally from Baltimore, a city turned around in the '70s and '80s on the strength of its waterfront.
"My family has mentioned before that down by the North Coast Harbor it does look similar to Baltimore and I think we do really appreciate the walkability that Baltimore has so I feel like that would be a nice addition to have here as well,” she said.
The city could learn from the state on their request for the TRAC funds to get the ball rolling as early as June.