From CRAIN’S CLEVELAND BUSINESS (November 21, 2013)
Pursuit of downtown pedestrian bridge to Cleveland's lakefront resumes
A long-discussed pedestrian bridge that would link the new convention center in downtown Cleveland with the lakefront is being pursued once again following the project's failure to win a federal transportation grant in September.
The bridge is a key piece in the $350 million downtown development plan announced last June by Mayor Frank Jackson and Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald. Although they still are struggling to put together a financing package for the project, the pair has submitted to their respective legislative councils a cooperative agreement for the planned convention center hotel that includes a financial commitment from each government for the bridge.
The hotel would be built adjacent to the convention center and Global Center for Health Innovation on the site of the recently vacated county administration building.
Plans for the bridge were dashed when the city learned in September that it had not won a $17 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, grant to cover a portion of the estimated $47 million cost. The bridge would span the Shoreway and the railroad tracks between the north edge of the Mall above the convention center and the Great Lakes Science Center and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on the lakefront; it would include a parking garage midway across the span.
The city and county each pledged $10 million for the project. The city would have bonded its portion, but Mayor Jackson told Crain's on Tuesday, Nov. 19, “Since we lost the TIGER grant, we held off on borrowing this money.”
County consultant Jeffrey Appelbaum, who has been overseeing the convention center and the hotel projects, told County Council on Tuesday that the county would fund its $10 million share as part a cooperative agreement with the city and the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority to build and finance the convention center hotel. The Port Authority will be the owner of record of the new hotel.
Ken Silliman, Mayor Jackson's chief of staff, said Tuesday that legislation to create the cooperative agreement also will be before Cleveland City Council next week. He said because the parking garage would be self-sustaining, the city could issue $10 million to cover the cost of the garage and the section of the bridge attached to it.
But, he added, the city has not yet found a source for the $17.5 million gap.
The idea of a bridge has been talked about for years. It became more concrete when it was included in the lakefront plan Mayor Jackson unveiled in 2011.