Cleveland Lakefront

Developing the Dream of Cleveland’s Lakefront

It’s been a longtime dream for the city of Cleveland to develop its downtown lakefront property along North Coast Harbor. This year, that dream will start to become a reality. After the hiring of two construction companies and submitting proposals last year, the Cleveland City Council approved a 50-year option-to-lease agreement for the 28-acre area located north of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and FirstEnergy Stadium. Construction is scheduled to begin next month. 

The project is expected to cost $700 million for more than 2.2 million square feet of about 800 parking spaces, 1,000 apartments, 60,000 of retail space,  80,000 square feet of office space, a boutique branded hotel and charter school. The construction companies, Cumberland Development and Trammell Crow Co., say the plan will be developed in phases. The first phase, set to break ground in September, will consist of two low-rise buildings.

Phase one site plans developed by Dimit Architects include a large, casual restaurant complete with outdoor seating and rooftop bar, permanent public restroom buildings, and a three-story building with a few dozen parking spaces surrounded by retail stores and restaurants on the first floor, offices on the second and penthouse apartments on the third. Three sand volleyball courts and a bocce ball court are also part of the overall project. Developer Dick Pace, president of Cumberland, hopes to finish phase one before the Republican National Convention in July 2016.

In addition to this project, Pace hopes to present a lakefront-recreation plan to the planning commission later this summer. That plan includes a potential sailing center with boat storage, permanent and floating docks, pedestrian paths, and an extension that would incorporate swimming pools for adults and children. He also is hoping to make an agreement with the Great Lakes Science Center to insert a restaurant into the William G. Mather, a Great Lakes freighter owned by the center that now acts as a floating museum and tourist attraction.

The ultimate goal of this entire project is to bring life to Cleveland’s lakefront. Waterfronts can be economic magnets, with the opportunity to draw in young professionals who are driving the economies of thriving cities in other places like San Francisco or Seattle. Cleveland’s downtown population has risen by 88 percent since 2000 to more than 12,500, according to a report done by the Downtown Cleveland Alliance in April 2014. The lakefront developments are a step toward attracting young workers and residents looking to lead urban lifestyles.