In this westward-looking view, the 62-acre former Lake Shore Power Plant site is outlined in red. In the foreground is East 72nd Street and Gordon Park South at left, Interstate 90 at right, and East 55th Street beyond. Downtown Cleveland is in the background (Google). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.
Site is next to Metroparks’ lakefront CHEERS project
It seemed too good to be true, and alas, it was. Title to a large, mostly vacant property for the former Lake Shore Power Station, 6800 S. Marginal Rd., in Cleveland, is being transferred to a new owner. The 62-acre site is across Interstate 90 from the bulk of Cleveland Metroparks’ lakefront improvements. But it’s not the Metroparks, the city or even a developer seeking to add recreation, housing or a mix thereof next to Lake Erie.
Instead, it appears to be part of Akron-based Energy Harbor’s $3 billion sale to Texas-based Vistra Corp.’s holding company Vistra Vision that was announced earlier this year. The complex transaction that requires approval from federal regulators is due to be finalized by the end of 2024. Vistra Vision will continue to operate four nuclear plants including two in Ohio — the Perry and Davis-Besse plants.
But in its various communications regarding the purchase of Energy Harbor, Vistra Vision has made no mention of its intentions for the former coal-fired Lake Shore Power Station that once belonged to Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co., then FirstEnergy, then Energy Harbor. The plant, built in 1911, was closed in 2015 rather than be upgraded to meet new air quality standards to reduce mercury and other toxic metal emissions.
Energy Harbor imploded the plant in spectacular fashion in 2017 and most of the remaining structures were razed since, leaving a large, nearly empty site next to Gordon Park and the East 55th Marina. Only an electrical substation, a small storage building and several cooling ponds remain. Energy Harbor spent several million dollars clearing and cleaning the property in recent years, public records show.
The Cleveland Metroparks’ $300 million Cleveland Harbor Eastern Embayment Resilience Strategy (CHEERS) plan is in detailed design and permitting for expanded park land including an off-shore island (Metroparks).
Metroparks and city officials are seeking to develop the recreational and natural offerings nearby, next to Lake Erie and on both sides of Interstate 90. The Metroparks is leading a $300 million effort called the CHEERS project, or the Cleveland Harbor Eastern Embayment Resilience Strategy. One of the most ambitious parts of that strategy would be to use dredged sediment from the bottom of the lakefront’s harbor and Cuyahoga River to create an island in Lake Erie, just offshore from the former Lake Shore Power Station.
In July, the Metroparks announced that the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation of Cleveland awarded $24 million in grants to several lakefront projects east of downtown. The largest share, $8 million, was awarded to the Metroparks for the revitalization of South Gordon Park with another $5 million for the extension of the Lakefront Bikeway from East 55th Street to downtown. That provided resources for demolishing the long-vacant Cleveland Aquarium that closed in 1985.
The foundation also gave a $725,000 grant to LAND Studio, a Cleveland nonprofit that designs placemaking projects, to conduct design work of the improved Gordon Park in Cleveland’s St. Clair-Superior neighborhood. More improvements are coming to Gordon Park including a new boat launch and possibly a new multi-use lakefront center.
These and other projects are also benefitting from voters easily renewing in November 2022 a 10-year levy replacement for the Metroparks that will generate up to $14 million more per year for the park district. The Metroparks considers the lakefront, from Gordon Park west to Edgewater Park as part of its Lakefront Reservation.
In this 2011 view, the former Lake Shore Power Plant at the east end of South Marginal Road had four more years of operation remaining. Most of the plant would be demolished in 2017 (Google).
The Green Ribbon Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy group, has for years been urging the Lake Shore Power Station site to be incorporated in the Metroparks’ and the city’s lakefront plans. The group has proposed a mix of housing and recreational uses for the land, and connecting it with pedestrian and bike paths over Interstate 90 to the lake shore. Dick Clough, the group’s executive board chairman, told NEOtrans yesterday he has not heard of any efforts to acquire or redevelop the power station site.
Metroparks Communications Director Jacqueline Gerling opened an e-mail from NEOtrans but otherwise didn’t respond to it prior to publication of this article.
On Dec. 21, a title company requested and received a certificate of disclosure from Cleveland’s Building Department for client Lake Shore Acquisition Company LLC which was incorporated one year ago. Such certificates are typically requested by a title company as part of their due diligence process on behalf of a client seeking to acquire ownership of a property. The property identified in the certificate was at 6800 South Marginal — the former Lake Shore Power Station site.
There was little else in public records to identify who was behind the Lake Shore Acquisition Company except their Dec. 28, 2022 incorporation filing with the Ohio Secretary of State. But it noted the company’s law firm is Kirton McConkie, a large Utah legal enterprise, and its agent/registrant Paracorp Inc. of South Euclid. The latter had registered more than 2,000 companies with the state.
Prior to demolishing the Lake Shore Power Station, FirstEnergy submitted conceptual plans to the city for redeveloping the site with different uses and even relocating Interstate 90 away from the edge of Lake Erie and its pounding waves (FirstEnergy).
Other Paracorp filings within a couple of days of the Lake Shore Acquisition Company filing with the Ohio Secretary of State were checked. Two were similar in name — DuPont Road Acquisition Company LLC and Eastlake Acquisition Company LLC. The former refers to a former Energy Harbor property next to Walleye Power LLC’s Bay Shore Plant in Oregon, Ohio near Toledo. The latter refers the closed Energy Harbor power plant in Eastlake, Ohio. Both companies listed Kirton McConkie as their law firm.
Emails seeking more information for this article, including the intentions of Vistra Vision were sent to representatives of Kirton McConkie and Vistra Vision. They were opened but otherwise not responded to prior to publication.
Energy Harbor, general contractor McNally Corp. of Canada, subcontractor Chieftain Trucking & Excavating of Cleveland and the North East Ohio Regional Sewer District were sent violation notices and cited in July 2022 by the Cleveland Building Department for digging a tunnel on the property without any permits, according to city records.
Chieftan was denied a permit in November 2022 to stockpile soil on the site because it was considered inconsistent with the city’s approved use of the site as a power plant, the public records show. Chieftan owner Angelo Martin did not respond to a request from NEOtrans for more information and a comment on the city’s actions.