Concerts, Theater and a Place to Stretch Out on the Grass Planned for a Revamped Public Square

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by David C. Barnett

Cleveland planners are borrowing the Metroparks' chief marketing officer to help create new uses for a reimagined Public Square.  The familiar downtown district has been under construction for the past year, and the city wants to make it a Northeast Ohio destination.
 
The space long-known as the city's "front porch" is being radically re-shaped, and Sanaa Julien will be in charge of programming and operations for the six acre site.

“One of the biggest changes,” she says, “is that it's no longer four quadrants.” 

Once drenched in the fumes of idling buses, the Square will now be two halves with plenty of green space, due to the removal of Ontario Street. The largest area will be a so-called "event lawn", which takes up most of the site's northern half.  Julien says it will be a place for everything from picnics to the annual summer concerts of the Cleveland Orchestra, which are due to return, once the space re-opens.  

“Whether we have a small concert happening for an after-work event, or a lunch-time speaker series, or a theatrical presentation --- we anticipate all of these opportunities coming together, to really create some excitement and energy”

It’s all aimed at bringing suburbanites back downtown, and attracting some new eyes and ears.

“We have a significantly larger population of folks residing downtown.”

Recent census numbers peg the central city population at 16,000, and Julien says a culturally stimulating Public Square is key to bringing those residents out to enjoy their new front porch,

Cleveland city planners hope to re-open Public Square by June, in advance of the Republican National convention.  

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