North Coast plans updated, go public today

An aerial rendering of the planned changes to the North Coast Harbor area of downtown Cleveland’s lakefront. This view shows Cleveland Browns Stadium dominating the scene with the port facilities and West 3rd Street at right and Voinovich Park at the foot of East 9th Street to the left (FO). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.

Clear, readable, free downtown lakefront images provided

In a virtual session held earlier today, the community got to see a refinement of plans for Downtown Cleveland’s lakefront that were first shared publicly in July, namely for the area near North Coast Harbor. The plans, showing stadium renovations, transportation investments and conversion of lakefront parking lots to year-round public uses, were developed and refined by a consulting team hired by the city and led by Field Operations, a public spaces design firm based in New York City.

As the consulting team gets more input, more details are added to the plans. With feedback from more than 4,000 surveys, 1,700 comment cards, 300 visioning workshop attendees and numerous community conversations, events and other engagements, the plans for North Coast Harbor are now 60 percent complete. Throughout the process, the planning team asked Clevelanders to share what would bring them to the lakefront — from family activities and community events to water access, dining and shopping — as well as how they imagined the lakefront on a spectrum of urban to natural.

A direct, overhead view of the North Coast Harbor area with principal attractions and facilities identified by number (FO).

“Together we are creating a space that revitalizes our physical landscape while reflecting the aspirations and needs of Cleveland’s diverse population,” said Mayor Justin Bibb in a written statement. “The latest version of this plan offers breathtaking design with people and equity at its heart.”

Topping the list of desired experiences and amenities were affordable lakeside dining, festivals and cultural events plus access to a sandy beach area. Participants also indicated a high value placed on nature and green space, water access, community space, an inclusive and welcoming environment, economic development opportunities, public access, history and the arts.

Looking more southeasterly than the first image, this aerial provides a clear look at the proposed North Coast Connector landbridge and how it could link the downtown “core to the shore” (FO).

The plans include a “land bridge” North Coast Connector over the lakefront railroad tracks and the Shoreway downgraded from a highway into a pedestrian-friendly boulevard. East of East 9th Street, the existing parking lots between the boulevard and railroad tracks would be redeveloped with housing, shops and restaurants in the coming decades.

Based on this feedback, the updated plan provides for all-season programming, a natural wetland and raised or “perched” sand beach, a 150,000-square-foot multi-modal transit hub to increase access, and added residential, retail and dining amenities, including a 16,000-square-foot food hall. The plan also embraces Cleveland’s unique “porch culture” with an updated series of lakefront porches that are intimate family spaces as well as potential opportunities for local artists to showcase their creativity.

A combination beach and wetlands area north of Cleveland Browns Stadium. While public input showed people wanted a beach, having a traditional beach next to a work port and inside the Lake Erie breakwall with limited water circulation proved problematic (FO).

“This plan aims to reconnect the city and the lake through multiple, meaningful connections back and forth,” said Lisa Switkin, partner at Field Operations. “We are interested in exploring the diverse stories of people and their relationship to the lake, both to elevate untold stories and to create a space where a new generation of stories can emerge.”

City officials said they are committed to seek ongoing feedback from Clevelanders as the North Coast Master Plan continues to develop. The 60 percent update kicks off a new series of opportunities for community involvement and engagement. Throughout the fall, the North Coast Lakefront project team will be at grocery stores, recreation centers and schools to gather input citywide.

Looking south towards downtown along the North Coast Connector land bridge with The Villages apartments at right and Cleveland Browns Stadium behind it (FO).

Through the end of November 2023, residents are encouraged to take a short survey at to ensure that the community’s values, visions and desired experiences along the downtown coast of Lake Erie are represented in the North Coast Master Plan.

“We are so grateful for all the community feedback we have received and hope that Clevelanders will remain engaged as we forge ahead,” said Cleveland Planning Director Joyce Pan-Huang. “This is very much a living plan, and we are working to ensure that we respond to what we are hearing from residents as well as verify what we have heard to make sure we get it right.”


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