This view shows the location of the first phase of planned rehabilitation of steel bulkheads along the edge of the Cuyahoga River. The work would be the first evidence on the landscape for Bedrock’s huge riverfront development (Osborn Engineering). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.
Bulkhead work, new agreement to precede development
A company owned by billionaire Dan Gilbert has secured a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the reconstruction of bulkheads along the edge of the Cuyahoga River, a federal navigation channel. The approved work will be one of the first tangible pieces of Detroit-based Bedrock Real Estate’s huge Cleveland Riverfront Development Project.
The construction work also requires a building permit from the city of Cleveland. But an application for that work was submitted last week to the city’s Building Department, according to the department’s web portal. It shows that the first phase of bulkhead work will be just downriver from the endangered Eagle Avenue lift bridge at a hairpin turn of the river dubbed Collison Bend. Last month, a Gilbert affiliate acquired a 2-acre site nearby at 1900-1960 W. 3rd St. for $2.8 million from local real estate company Flats South Cleveland led by partner Joel Scheer, county records show.
“(This application is for) bulkhead rehabilitation in preparation for Cleveland Riverfront Development Project consisting of driving approximately 340 linear feet of new piles between the existing wall and the Cuyahoga River per the plan drawings,” wrote Benjamin Colston, a water resources engineer for Cleveland-based Osborn Engineering, in filing plan documents with the city. The filing was made on behalf of riverside property owner Rock Ohio Caesars Cleveland LLC, another one of Gilbert’s companies.
There is $9.2 million available in public and private funds for the bulkhead work. That includes $4.2 million from Bedrock, $3 million from the city via the American Rescue Program Act and $2 million from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The funding may also be used to construct boardwalks, sewer replacements and the relocation of Canal Road closer to the river, according to the city.
Plans for the first phase of bulkhead rehabilitation work show rebuilt steel sheet piling at the river’s edge held in place by metal tie rods extending about 45 feet through the soil to a concrete “deadman” anchor (Osborn Engineering).
Also, City Council is considering authorizing Mayor Justin Bibb’s administration to enter into an updated development agreement with Gilbert affiliate Cleveland LD LLC to plan and execute a development and financing strategy to maximize public and private use along Cleveland’s riverfront, including Tower City, property between Huron Road and the riverfront, and property between Ontario Street and the riverfront. However, some property needed for the redevelopment had city liens removed from them in a process that skipped approvals from the city’s Board of Control and even City Council, possibly in violation of the City Charter so the city could expedite the sale of Sherwin-Williams’ riverfront lands to Gilbert affiliates.
The city and Bedrock entered into an initial Master Development Agreement dated Nov. 23, 2021, relating to the Cuyahoga Riverfront Development. This first agreement allowed Bedrock to pursue needed due diligence to shape the objectives and parameters of what would become the Cuyahoga Riverfront Master Plan (CRMP), according to a project summary submitted to the City Planning Commission. An updated agreement was referred by City Council to the commission, as is common practice in such matters.
“Since entering into the original Master Development Agreement, the city and Bedrock have further refined and identified the scope of private investment and public improvements necessary to advance the goals and objectives of the project, and the city and Bedrock now desire to amend, restate and supersede the initial Master Development Agreement in its entirety,” the project summary states.
The summary says Bedrock proposes a multi-phase, multi-year riverfront redevelopment that is expected to result in “a significant and substantial influx of public and private investment by Bedrock into the city.” Much of the public funding will be for the rehabilitation of bulkheads, relocation of Canal Road, rebuilding the Eagle Avenue ramp to Ontario Street, installation of traffic controls, street landscaping, stormwater treatment facilities, relocation of utilities, construction of slope protection and ground improvements. Additionally, the city and Bedrock will create approximately 12 acres of public open space, including a boardwalk along the Cuyahoga River, park and recreation areas and pedestrian access routes.
This Collison Bend-based vantage point of Bedrock’s proposed riverfront development is near to where the riverside bulkhead work is to be done. Bedrock’s first phase comprised of four new buildings is proposed to the right of and below Terminal Tower’s spire (Adjaye Associates).
“All of these are intended to maximize the naturally occurring features of downtown Cleveland and promote outdoor and waterfront activities, and various other ancillary public improvements,” according to the summary of the updated agreement between the city and Bedrock.
Over the coming decades, Bedrock envisions up to 3.5 million square feet of new buildings including several residential towers and approximately 1.4 million square feet of mixed-use facilities — retail, hospitality, office, entertainment, community and commercial uses. It also includes a “substantial” redevelopment of The Avenue shopping mall at Tower City Center, converting it from a three-level structure to a two-level facility.
The first phase of new construction, near to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse where Gilbert’s Cleveland Cavaliers team plays basketball, reportedly includes a relocated practice facility for the Cavaliers. It may also feature a Cleveland Clinic sports health center, a high-rise hotel and a residential building that could include condos. And there’s an office tower planned, possibly for Gilbert’s large and local Rocket Mortgage offices which face a Dec. 31, 2026 lease expiration at the Higbee Building one block away. Gilbert does not like his companies to pay leases to non-Gilbert-owned companies.