Main Ave. Design Competition 2016

Main Avenue Connector design proposalThe Downtown Cleveland Alliance sponsored a design competition to make the Main Avenue connector from Old River Road to West 9th more attractive. Main Avenue is a critical connector from the Warehouse District to the Flats East Bank. It also lines up with the Metropark’s Water Taxi service to the west bank of the Flats. Getting from the North Coast Harbor/Rock Hall area to the Flats East Bank and West Bank should be a priority if our waterfront is going to be well connected. The area of Main Avenue near West 9th St has long had a dark, shadowy aura cast on it from the  bridge overhead and buildings nearby.

It is possible to get from West 9th to West 3rd by using Lakeside. There are spectacular vistas of the port, lake, and stadium in this area that are not highlighted from Lakeside. The vistas are on the north of Lakeside and are currently a collection of parking lots and a freeway entrance that may not be needed. The West 9th to West 3rd connection could use a design competition.  The Main Avenue connector  project holds promise for also upgrading this portion of the connection between the Flats East Bank and North Coast Harbor.

So, back to the winning design to upgrade Main Avenue.  PORT Urbanism of Chicago won the design competition and unveiled their design in April 2016. Their design was estimated to cost between  $800,000  and $1.6 million, depending on how much of the plan was implemented.

The six components of their program are:

  • Horizontal light bars on the building on the south side of Main Avenue near West 9th.  This area is dark and unwelcoming.   The shadow of the Main Avenue bridge  increases as you go up the hill to West 9th.
  • Graphics/signs  on W 9th to connect the East Bank and Warehouse District.
  • SW corner of West 9th and Main Avenue would get steps and a terrace to  soften this corner, this is the site of the Old Lighthouse that is referenced.
  • Better  lighting on the north side of the Main Avenue sidewalk using light boxes around the base of the bridge piers.
  • Painting the bridge piers (abutments) at Main and Old River Road to resemble a Triumphal Arch.
  • Creating a meeting point landscape at the SW side of the traffic circle at Old River Road and Main using decks and low benches.
  • Cleveland has a long history of innovation in the field of lighting and these proposals use lighting to spectacular effect.  It is important to have a connected lakefront trail and this project upgrades a  critical portion.

– John Veres