Vision for the Valley: Bedrock’s ambitious riverfront plan has transformative potential for Cleveland

Bedrock CEO Kofi Bonner: ““The Vision for the Valley will create a vibrant riverfront community.” (Photos by Michael Collier)

By Laura DeMarco

Cleveland’s history is tied to its riverfront. And so is its future.

It was the Cuyahoga River where Moses Cleaveland founded our city on July 22, 1796.

It was the river where Cleveland hit its lowest moment on June 20, 1969, when the polluted Cuyahoga burned for the 13th time — but also created a moment that catalyzed a national environmental movement.

And today, it is that same, now-revitalized river that is at the center of one of the most ambitious, forward-thinking projects in Cleveland history, the Vision for the Valley.

Last September, Bedrock announced its plan to partner with the city on the Vision for the Valley, with the goals of transforming the Cuyahoga riverfront downtown and “connecting downtown and its residents and visitors to the riverfront through an approach prioritizing sustainability, equity and accessibility.”

World-renowned architect Sir David Adjaye, designer of the Smithsonian Museum of African-American History, is creating the masterplan for the 20- to 30-year project that will extend from Tower City Center to the east bank, approximately 130 acres. He is expected to deliver the plan this fall.

Bedrock will reveal its masterplan to transform and re-engage approximately 130 acres of the east bank riverfront this fall. (Getty Images)

“The riverfront is a gem,” said Bedrock CEO Kofi Bonner at the Greater Cleveland Partnership Annual Event on June 30. Riverfront development and the Vision for the Valley were topics of the evening’s panel discussion, focusing on the value of the GCP All In priority of Appealing Community.

“The Vision for the Valley will create a vibrant riverfront community … a mixed-use community that will attract talent and people who will want to live downtown,” said Bonner.

Bedrock’s vision calls for a public-private partnership among the company, city and civic groups including GCP and Downtown Cleveland Alliance to rebuild the area’s urban infrastructure, with a focus on sustainability, including new public open spaces, enhanced pathways to the riverfront, transit-oriented development and diverse and inclusive housing options.

The plan will create what they are calling a “15-minute neighborhood and 18-hour city” for residents and visitors.

“Bedrock’s plan transforms both the city and the region,” says Greater Cleveland Partnership President and CEO Baiju Shah, who introduced the panel at the meeting. “The vision will create a mixed-use live, work and play area in the city where all of a person’s needs could be met, and where the public can access the riverfront.”

Bedrock is projecting the development will help propel downtown population growth to 30,000 residents by 2030.

Skylight Park will celebrate its grand opening Saturday, July 16. (Image courtesy of Groundswell Design Group.)

One of the first steps in the vision, Phase Zero, was announced Wednesday: an indoor greenspace, complete with picnic benches and Midwestern foliage, at Tower City Center known as Skylight Park. Created in collaboration with the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the space will open Saturday, July 16.

Not only will this enhance the appeal of Tower City — especially in winter months — it will help connect Tower City to the river development.

Connectivity is key to the vision, Bonner emphasized on the panel.

“The river is an incredible asset,” said Shah. “This is the first time the river is really being looked at in this connected and creative way. We are excited to partner with Bedrock, the city and others to bring this to fruition for the benefit of all.”

The east bank of the Cuyahoga River in downtown Cleveland, c. 1901. (Library of Congress)

Resources

For more on Bedrock’s riverfront development

For more on Bedrock

For more on the city’s Vision for the Valley

For more on the largest ever GCP Annual Event

Greater Cleveland Partnership’s All In vision for a Great Region on a Great Lake has five key priorities: Dynamic Business, Abundant Talent, Inclusive Opportunity, Appealing Community and Business Confidence. All of our work ties back to these values. This story relates to Appealing Community.

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