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Cuyahoga County Still Deciding Where Visitors Should Park for Convention Center Hotel

Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 5:48 PM

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Hilton Hotel next to the Global Center on Health Innovation. (Source: Cooper Carry, Cleveland City Council)

As Cuyahoga County embarks on its multimillion-dollar project to build a downtown hotel next to the new convention center, there’s one detail that hasn’t been decided yet: where visitors will park. That’s a question Cuyahoga County council began to puzzle over this week, ideastream’s Nick Castele reports.

When the city of Cleveland agreed to spend $8 million and put other tax revenues toward the county’s convention center hotel project, it also made a demand: there must be parking nearby.

Cleveland City Councilman Tony Brancatelli pushed for a measure requiring 500 parking spaces within 1,000 feet of the facility entrance.

“The big issue here is for us to build a first class hotel without available parking – or dedicated parking – would be a mistake,” he said in a phone interview.

But the location for that parking hasn’t been decided yet. One option Cuyahoga County is considering is setting aside spaces for the hotel’s valet service across the street at Huntington Garage next to the old county courthouse.

County Council President C. Ellen Connally said there are two problems with that plan. One is that, in her opinion, the garage needs a lot of work.

“I mean, it’s like falling apart,” Connally said. “Now how are you going to take that garage and rejuvenate (it)? It’s going to take a ton of money.”

Plus, she says, the Justice Center nearby needs many of those spaces for people who have business with the court. 

But the attorney overseeing the project, Jeff Appelbaum, says using that garage isn’t out of the question. For one thing, he says, the county headquarters is moving, and its employees won’t be using that garage anymore. At the meeting this week, Appelbaum said it’s not a bad problem to have to figure out.

“We said from day one that if the project was successful, it would create a good problem, which is that we would need parking, we’d have to solve for it,” Appelbaum said. “Well, now we do have to solve for it.”

Appelbaum says one option for the larger issue of downtown parking is to better connect visitors with open garages and lots, and to take them by a bus or trolley ride to where they’re trying to go.

Business leaders and the Cleveland Group Plan Commission are getting ready to study just how much parking capacity there is downtown.

They’ve got some time. Parking won’t need to be ready until the hotel opens in 2016.

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