CLEVELAND, Ohio – Planners are still questioning whether Shaker Square would be improved by removing Shaker Boulevard, the main drag that bisects the beloved but aging shopping center.
On Wednesday and Thursday, designers working on a 21st century vision for the square will present their latest thinking on the boulevard and other issues facing the square, originally built in the late 1920s.
Meetings are scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Our Lady of Peace Social Hall, 12750 Shaker Blvd., and from 8 to 10 a.m. Thursday at Fairhill Center, 12200 Fairhill Rd.
“It’s really an opportunity to see the work in progress as its developing,” said Wayne Mortensen, director of design and development at the nonprofit Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, which is co-leading the design process in collaboration with LAND Studio.
“The amount of input that we’ve had has been really, really heartening,” Mortensen said. “There’s still opportunity for feedback.”
In February, a design team led by Hargreaves Associates, a landscape architecture firm with offices in New York, Boston and San Francisco, presented four major alternatives for the square.
The upcoming direction for Shaker Square planning appears to be coalescing around the ‘Forest Crossing’ concept, one of our proposed in February by Hargreaves Associates. A multi-use trail would connect South Moreland Boulevard to North Moreland Boulevard, creating a broad plaza through the center of the square. The connection would link communities south of the Square to Doan Brook and the Lake to Lakes Trail that runs alongside it. Shaker Boulevard would remain in this concept.
Since then, planners responding to extensive public input have coalesced around an alternative that adds a recreational pathway that would cut north-south across the middle of the square.
The path would traverse the rapid transit tracks used by the Green and Blue lines
of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.
The idea is that the path would strengthen connections to surrounding neighborhoods by extending along Moreland Boulevard north and south of the square, connecting the shopping center to Buckeye Road to the south, and Larchmere Boulevard to the north.
Just as important, the path would extend as far north as Fairhill Road, where a new multipurpose regional trail connects Shaker Lakes to University Circle and Lake Erie.
“We are trying to facilitate a process that brings community together around a vision for not just Shaker Square but the whole neighborhood around it,” said Tiffany Graham, a senior project director at LAND Studio.
Concepts for the square will be presented along with variations showing how the 5.5acre public space and the retail shops around it would function for pedestrians and traffic with, and without, Shaker Boulevard.
If the boulevard is removed, all traffic would skirt the square counterclockwise on the existing road. If the boulevard remains, planners would suggest adding new paving designed to slow traffic and make the square safer for pedestrians.
Mortensen said the planning will continue into late June, when Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and LAND Studio will present final recommendations.
The work will include cost estimates, phasing for implementation, suggestions on financing and fundraising, and perhaps even whether Coral Co., the commercial real estate firm that owns the square, should sell the surrounding public spaces to a nonprofit entity.
For now, multiple options are still under consideration.
“Everything is on the table,” Mortensen said. “Nothing is presented as a fait-accompli. We are honing in on what hopefully is the community’s consensus.”