Cuyahoga County announce crucial funding for Public Square transformation, enabling March 9 construction start
CLEVELAND – March 6, 2015 – Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish was joined by Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson, and Group Plan Commission officials to announce that Cuyahoga County has agreed to issue bonds to help fund the transformation of Public Square.
The estimated $7.5 million in funding will enable the Group Plan Commission to begin construction on Public Square as planned on March 9 and complete the project on time by June 2016.
“I’m proud to announce that Cuyahoga County – in collaboration with our public and private sector partners – is able to provide the critical investment to make this transformational civic project possible,” said County Executive Armond Budish. “With strong partnerships and innovative solutions, our region is taking a significant and historic step forward today.”
The commitment announced today is the next step in the public/private partnership set in motion by the initial Group Plan Commission convened by Mayor Jackson in 2010, which set forth a bold vision for revitalizing Cleveland’s signature public spaces, now moving forward with the revitalization of Public Square.
“The construction of a new Public Square gets us closer to creating a 24-hour city where our Downtown is a business district, a residential neighborhood and a tourist destination,” said Mayor Jackson.
County Executive Budish has referred legislation to County Council that will enable the county to issue bonds for financing the Public Square project that will be repaid via the repurposing of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) from the Higbee Building, which is owned by Rock Ohio Caesars.
Initially authorized in 2002 by the City of Cleveland, the TIF incentivized property owners to renovate their buildings and attract new businesses to Downtown Cleveland. Under an agreement reached this week by the County Executive, the City of Cleveland, and Rock Ohio Caesars, and enabled by flexibility granted by Cleveland City Council in September 2014, Rock Ohio Caesars will forego the use of TIF revenues for improvements to the Higbee Building and instead they will be redirected for the transformation of Public Square.
Property tax revenues for the Cleveland City Schools and other recipients are not impacted.
The non-profit Group Plan Commission has been working with the City, County and stakeholder organizations Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP), Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA) and LAND Studio on plans to transform Public Square from four individual quadrants into a vibrant public park designed by the nationally known landscape architecture firm of James Corner Field Operations.
“The investment from Cuyahoga County and Rock Ohio Caesars is critical for the transformation of Public Square,” said Group Plan Commission Chairman Anthony Coyne. “This commitment, coupled with the $24.5 million we have already raised, enables us to start construction with confidence on Monday, March 9 and complete the transformation by June 2016. While we still have work to do and funds to raise, today is a true milestone.”
In preparation for the March 9 start of construction, project planners have developed a maintenance-of-traffic plan, including changes to traffic and transit routes during construction, that seeks to reduce the impact on drivers, transit riders and everyone who lives or travels Downtown.
Starting March 9, and for the duration of the renovation of Public Square, Ontario Street and Superior Avenue within the Square will be closed to all traffic. The surrounding Public Square roadways and Rockwell Avenue will offer access to bus traffic and local vehicular traffic only. Downtown Cleveland Alliance’s website, DowntownCleveland.com, houses the latest construction information and closures.
The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority plan for public transit during construction went into effect March 1. All bus routes and transfers remain within one block of Public Square. The HealthLine stop across from Tower City remains open. RideRTA.com houses up-to-date information on transit route and schedule changes.
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