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Bedrock unveils Cleveland riverfront, Tower City master plan

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Bedrock, owner of Detroit-based Tower City Center and the significant riverfront land behind it, wants these underutilized properties to become a place for Clevelanders to live, work and shop. , has a $3.5 billion vision to turn it into a play district.

Developed by global design studio Adjaye Associates, the new master plan shows the more than 3.5 million square feet development rising from the east bank of the Cuyahoga River towards the downtown skyline. Bedrock, the real estate arm of billionaire Dan Gilbert’s Rock family of companies, announced the proposal Friday, Dec. 2 at the Ritz-Carlton Cleveland Hotel.

The plan lays the groundwork for deeper engineering and discussions with the city about how to fund large-scale infrastructure work. The cornerstone of the vision is to dramatically reimagine roads and sidewalks to allow smooth passage from public squares to riverbanks, creating a sense of place when people cross a 100-foot grade change.

“If you’re going to the riverfront, there has to be a riverfront,” Bedrock CEO Kofi Bonner said in an interview before the official announcement.

Under the guidance of Sir David Adjaye, an award-winning British architect from Ghana, Project team This includes Osborn Engineering, who has proposed turning the back of Tower City (now a cascade of parking structures and dimpled pavement) into another front door.

“Our downtown Cleveland riverfront redevelopment strategy will capitalize on the city’s lost heritage and establish a new relationship between the city’s core and the coast,” Ajayi said in a prepared statement. “As I became more deeply immersed, the need to build a gentler flow of movement around the city became very clear.”

The image shows 12 acres of public open space lined with rows of new mid-rise buildings. These buildings could include 2,000 new homes, a mix of rentals and sales, and 1.4 million square feet of commercial space, including hotels, offices, entertainment and retail.

Bonner explained that its development is a 15- to 20-year plan and could go faster if the right mix of public and private sector partners come together to meet infrastructure needs. . And while Bedrock makes frameworks, the company doesn’t aim to be the sole developer.

“Our goal is to create a template here. …Success is defined by others who want to build next to us and with us,” Bonner said.

A Bedrock affiliate owns the Tower City shopping mall and approximately 24 acres of riverfront land, as well as other buildings in the vicinity. However, the master plan spans approximately 35 acres and includes Sherwin-Williams Breen Technology Center and parking at 601 Canal Road.

The Cleveland-based coatings giant is building a new R&D center in Brecksville and a new headquarters tower west of Public Square. By late 2024, Sherwin-Williams plans to vacate the historic landmark his office, his tower, the Breen complex, and its longtime headquarters adjacent to Tower City.

Bedrock confirmed Friday that it has signed purchase agreements to acquire both downtown properties. “We had a very productive conversation with Sherwin Williams,” said Bonner.

The master plan shows a large park on Sherwin-Williams riverside land at the western end of the study area along Carter Road. The park connects the riverside sites with a growing trail network. Bedrock sees public spaces as a key element of placemaking, increasing property value in the wider area.

The new staircase traverses the hillside near the Carl B. Stokes U.S. Courthouse, off Huron Road, near the Detroit Superior Bridge, creating a path between the water and downtown.

At the eastern end of the site, near Ontario Street, another set of stairs will help pedestrians navigate the slopes. In the middle, a reimagined Tower City Center will serve as a grand corridor connecting Public Square and the riverfront, where indoor shopping areas could be replaced by long covered porches.

That approach would require Bedrock to tear down the mall’s central or public square level to create a more open central space. That means demolishing the floor beyond where the Brooks Brothers store used to be, past the ornate entrance to the complex.

Escalators will continue to transport passengers to and from Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority trains that run beneath the center. But Bedrock wants to remove other physical and visual barriers as part of its ongoing effort to transform the mall into something new. marketa more airy space with a mix of shops, eateries, entertainment and kiosks.

A cross-section of the Tower City plan shows Bedrock wants to close a section of Huron Road between West 2nd and West 3rd Avenues. Adjaye’s image depicts an ornate porch roof over Prospect’s Avenue, creating a tunnel that shelters traffic. Extends over the existing Skylight Concourse. It juts out into the river past where the Huron runs today.

Below, the retail floor gradually gives way to ramps and stairs, creating a beautiful area where the indoors and outdoors seem to bleed together. This complex project will wipe out the structured parking lot, but Bedrock plans to reconfigure and replace lots and garages in a phased redevelopment.

This proposal requires traffic to be redirected from Huron to West Second and West Third prospects. Bedrock hopes to calm traffic in the area and modify Canal Road, which runs through riverside parking lots, to create new development pads and create space for green space and trails. In some places the canal approaches the water. In others it pulls away.

At the eastern edge of the study area, the floor plan shows the rebuilt Eagle Avenue. This was once a ramp that ran from the south side of Ontario Street across from Progressive Field. The idea is to create several gateways to the site for easy access by walkers and cyclists.

Bedrock is also exploring ways to connect the new riverfront building to an indoor walkway connecting Tower City and Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, where Gilbert’s Cleveland Cavaliers play.

“It’s a classic redevelopment puzzle,” Bonner said of the property, the former Tower City owner and developer. Forest City Enterprise Co., Ltd. I once had a similar aspiration.

Forest City’s Tower City Center project spanned a terminal tower, an abandoned rail hub, and troubled office and retail spaces. The property also includes foundation supports from the 1920s, installed for buildings that never materialized. Forest City opened in 1990 when he opened a 360,000-square-foot mall with new office space, parking, and an attached Ritz-Carlton hotel.

But the project, which began in the midst of the recession, fell short of Forest City’s ambitious vision. Riverside real estate has been declining like a sea of ​​parking lots for decades.

“We can solve most challenges through engineering and design,” says Bonner. “What is unsolvable is the market and funding for this kind of project. .”

It’s too early to say how much public funding Bedrock will seek. The company has held preliminary discussions with city leaders and has had early discussions about the types of resources available at the county, state, and federal levels.

Bonner referred to tax-raising loans that capture new property tax revenues generated by the development and pledge them to the project. Developers can borrow against that promised revenue stream to fund infrastructure, public space, and other upfront investments.

“We need to get into more sophisticated discussions about this,” he said.

Bedrock’s next steps include evaluating the reaction of civil servants to the master plan. If Mayor Justin Bibb’s administration and city council members are cooperative, Bedrock will work with authorities to come up with a development agreement outlining goals and timelines.

Bibb and other city officials, including City Council Speaker Blaine Griffin, joined Bedrock at Friday’s standing-only event.

“Today’s announcement is a prime example of what can be achieved when the private and public sectors are united in an equitable initiative that supports all of Cleveland,” Bibb said in a prepared statement. Bedrock’s vision for redevelopment along the coast is one of the major projects that will help realize Cleveland’s goal of becoming an 18-hour, 15-minute city.”

Meanwhile, after dealing with supply chain delays, Bedrock plans to begin improving the cityscape around Tower City in the coming weeks. And developers continue to pitch local retailers to relocate to malls that have had problems for years. business incubator approachhosts pop-ups and highlights programming, including holiday events.

“We are experiencing economic uncertainty, but if you give people a reason to come downtown, and if downtown is vibrant and active, people will want to go there. I think it’s still true,” Bonner said. .

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