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Cleveland Settles on Developer to Bring Housing and Retail to the Lakefront

Illustration of development plan from Cumberland's proposal. (Source: City of Cleveland)
Illustration of development plan from Cumberland's proposal. (Source: City of Cleveland)

Update 3/14:

The developers's initial proposal, which the city of Cleveland shared with ideastream Thursday, envisioned more than 1,500 apartments on the lakefront, restaurants and shops ringing the harbor and a school linked to the Great Lakes Science Center.

But Cumberland’s Dick Pace says there have been revisions since the plan was submitted. Some of the buildings initially proposed will likely not be part of the final designs, because they were outside the geographic area the city is hoping to develop.

The updated plan, pictured above, includes retail near the Great Lakes Science Center and Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, as well as more than 1,000 apartments north of First Energy Stadium.

Former Cleveland regional development chief Chris Warren is a consultant on the project. He says the challenge now is to hammer out the details.

“We’ve been kind of stuck for years and years and years on two-dimensional drawings which never answered questions like, 'Can you really build a building here at a cost that people are willing to pay for?'” Warren said.

Construction would begin in 2015 and be finished in phases over the following five years. Though the developers' initial proposal put the construction cost at more than $600 million, Pace declined to share a figure for the smaller, updated proposal.

Dennis Keating, a professor at Cleveland State University's Levin College of Urban Affairs, says he’ll wait and see if this is different from other lakefront plans that didn’t become reality.

“Given the fact you’ve got a combination of a local developer with a track record and a large national firm, that sounds promising to me," Keating said. "On the other hand, there’s a question of financing.”

The developers’ initial proposal said they would plan to look to a mix of bank loans, $20 million in grants from the city and county, as well as $10 million in port bonds. But Pace said he now likely won’t be looking for a grant from the city for the project, as the part that would have been publicly financed likely won't be in the final plan.

Pace said he’s hoping to put a proposal in front of city council for a vote before council’s summer recess.

“That means in the next couple months, we’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said.

Nick Castele is a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media.