Sometimes when a dream occurs, it vanishes almost immediately, or it evolves into something more.
What brings this to mind are recent efforts to update aspects of Cleveland’s Group Plan of 1903, an iconic vision that helped shape the heart of downtown Cleveland. While it took the next 30 years or more to see it to fruition, the downtown public structures were designed along a certain neoclassical motif, adjacent to open green areas.
“City Hall, Public Hall, the County Courthouse and The Mall … It’s got that sort of classical feel, a little bit like downtown Washington, D.C., a little bit like parts of Chicago,” says Jeremy Paris, the newly appointed executive director of the Group Plan Commission.
Paris’ interest is more than a bit of historical trivia. The Group Plan Commission has the ambitious goal of revitalizing Public Square, improving Malls A, B and C, and building public access between the malls and the lakefront.
Does is sound like a grandiose dream? It’s been said that, “A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality,” and that’s essentially the recommendations made in 2011 by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s Group Plan Commission. With joint efforts between organizations, the projects have the best chance of coming to fruition.
“What we represent is a unique collaboration,” Paris says. “We are trying to pool significant public resources and commitment to these projects with philanthropic and private sector resources to deliver on the project.”
Paris best describes the intangible benefits of the projects by drawing a parallel to the initial responses to the recent green roof of the below-grade Convention Center.
“When it’s a little nicer out, and you see people go up, it is almost like a viewing stand,” Paris says. “It sort of rises to the roof above where the convention center is. And they look down. It’s like they discovered the lake. They say ‘Ahh! There it is!’ It’s this grand vista. One of the things that invite people to these wonderful public spaces is to engage people with the lakefront from the city. That is just the beginning of what we hope to do to enhance it as a usable public space.”
Paris also quotes Joseph Marinucci, president and CEO of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, who says the increasing number of people living downtown offers a chance to engage in these public spaces in a very different way.
“It’s not just, ‘I’m coming down for a big spectacle,’ these are people who want to use those public spaces,” Paris says.
Speaking of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, this issue’s Uniquely Cleveland features Walnut Wednesdays, an event where a dozen or more food trucks populate Perk Plaza for a lunchtime bonanza of good eats and fun.
Walnut Wednesdays came about as an idea to blend an event from years ago called Party in the Park with the new popularity of food trucks — a variation of a previous idea that was infused with new enthusiasm.
Another example that a dream you dream by yourself is only a dream, but a dream you dream together is reality.
Smart Business Cleveland
Dennis is interested in the people and businesses making a difference in Greater Cleveland.