Newspaper article International New York Times

A Revitalized Cleveland Will Greet Republicans

Newspaper article International New York Times

A Revitalized Cleveland Will Greet Republicans

Article excerpt

The Ohio city, with a new city center Public Square and revamped hotels and residential buildings, is preparing for the Republican Party's convention.

Just before the Republican National Convention begins, this Ohio city is making good this week on its longtime plan to renovate a 10- acre public green space, following a trend in major American cities to link park construction with economic redevelopment goals.

On Thursday, Cleveland will reopen Public Square after a $50 million, 15-month renovation. More than eight years in planning, the restoration of Public Square turns it into a place that is again green enough for its original 18th-century purpose -- a pasture for sheep and cattle. The renovation has also helped unleash a strong surge in residential and commercial construction in the city center.

Cleveland, on the shore of Lake Erie, has been basking in the spotlight this year as residents have savored the long-awaited championship of their National Basketball Association team, the Cavaliers, led by LeBron James, who grew up in nearby Akron. Now they are preparing for more attention as the Republican convention comes to the city in mid-July.

Public Square, where Ontario Street had met Superior Avenue in a black basin of asphalt, has been completely redesigned by James Corner and his colleagues at Field Operations, the same firm that created the High Line elevated park in New York City.

Mr. Corner closed Ontario Street, made Superior Avenue eligible solely for buses and replaced wide areas of hard pavement and the sharp right angles of street intersections with acres of green lawn, flowing promenades, shade trees and gardens. A fountain near the park's center invites summertime visitors to wade in and cool off. In the winter, it will be converted to a skating rink.

The improvements echo projects in places like New York, Washington and Chicago, where public green spaces have been incorporated with economic development plans. Boston, in one example, replaced a downtown freeway with the Rose Kennedy Greenway, a 1.5-mile linear park and promenade with landscaped gardens.

Last year, Cleveland issued construction permits for projects valued at $1.5 billion, much of them in the city center, said Edward W. Rybka, the city's chief of regional development. That is twice the value of projects granted permits in 2012.

In all, 29 projects with more than $3.5 billion in investment have opened or are scheduled to open in the city center between now and 2018, according to the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, a civic economic development group.

Cleveland is emerging as one of the country's principal centers of biomedical innovation and development, centered on the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University.

"From a biomedical standpoint, there is so much talent moving to Cleveland," said Aram Nerpouni, the chief executive of BioEnterprise, the sector's nonprofit development group. …

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