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Big Plans for the Northcoast Harbor

Wednesday, May 31, 2000 at 9:33 AM

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While many people consider the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as the crown jewel of the Lake Erie shoreline, there's much more to consider. East of that area is the Port of Cleveland where ships come from all over the world. Thousands are headed for northeast Ohio manufacturing plants to unload tons of steel, iron ore, coal, stone and cement to fuel northeast Ohio's steel mills and electric power plants. But soon there will be more to the port than just the working docks. 90.3's Lorna Jordan reports.

Lorna Jordan- Port Officials are holding their collective breaths these days for word on two promising projects. The Port Authority’s Maritime Director Stephen Pfeiffer says they’re hoping to hear about a passenger ferry service between Cleveland and Canada. The ferry would transport people, cars, and perhaps some auto parts destined for Canada. The second project of the plan calls for a World Trade Center to be built. The Port Authority has a contract with the Amsdell Company to develop the property, and by July the company must have financing in line. Vice President Brian Hurtuk says they’re hoping to break ground by the end of the year. He says the structure will be at the intersection of the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie. It would be about eighteen to twenty stories high.

Brian Hurtuk- It is a mixed use development ­ office and a hotel. The site that we have an agreement with the Port Authority on is about seven acres, and that’s really all you can fit on that site. Obviously, there is additional land. Maybe not right there, but along the lakefront that retail and housing probably over time makes a lot of sense.

LJ- Hurtuk says one of the most important components of the site is the waterfront RTA line which is already in place.

BH- Access to the site via a car is on West 9th Street. But because that Waterfront line is in place, and actually a platform is in place where you could build a full service station, that gives me the ability to move people in and out with greater flexibility.

LJ- Hurtuk says the biggest challenge will be for architects to make the design blend in with buildings in the Flats, the Warehouse District and the Stadium. While the World Trade Center is an essential part of developing the port, loading and unloading of huge container ships remains at the heart of the area.Stephen Peiffer is the Maritime Director for the Cleveland Cuyahoga County Port Authority. He says overall the master plan calls for forty million dollars in improvements:

Stephen Peiffer- Starting with our Dock 32, which is on the east end of the dock closest to Northcoast harbor, we have a proposed passenger terminal. Passengers was one of the elements of the master plan identified that we would be dealing with in the years to come. That would be people arriving to Cleveland by water from various destinations both international and other points along the lake.

LJ- As workers for Federal Marine Terminals unload ships, forklifts wander around the docks carrying steel coils that weigh almost two thousand pounds each. General Manager Dave Burmeister says eventually this cargo will fill as many as fifty or sixty tractor trailers.

Dave Burmeister- I just wanted to show you the wire coils to show you the vastness of product that comes in. All these coils of wire are used to make wire bolts, thin windings on engines also made for welding rods and steel wool. It comes from Germany, Spain, Trinidad. We’ve had products from as far away as India.

LJ- In 1999, Federal Marine Terminals unloaded seventy thousand metric tons of cargo from ships. In addition to being critical for the shipping industry, Burmeister says the port is important to all of northeast Ohio

DB- Not only do you look at the long shoremen, we have three gangs here (and) we have roughly twenty people per gang, you have sixty people- plus our staff which is in the neighborhood of fifteen -so you’re looking at eighty-five people. But now you’re looking at trucking, you’re looking at the people who receive the material to process it into a refunded product. I means it’s a domino effect that has long ranging effects throughout this area.

LJ- The Port Authority’s Stephen Pfeiffer says dock workers handle more than sixteen million tons a year.

SP- The value of that sixteen-and-a half million tons of material is probably is in excess of a billion dollars at the raw materials level, and would equate to many billions of dollars of finished goods that are manufactured right here in the greater Cleveland area.

LJ- Officials for the Port Authority hope that changes called for in the master plan will add significant vitality to dock area, as well as change the shoreline of downtown Cleveland. In Cleveland, I’m Lorna Jordan for 90.3 WCPN, 90.3 FM.

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