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Overview

Irishtown Bend (ITB), once the site of a 19th-century Irish shanty-town, is a largely-deserted, overgrown green oasis that in recent years has geologically moved, slipping enough to split roads and shake up a major sewer line. The comprehensive stabilization of the hillside began in March, 2022.

Irishtown Bend and the Cuyahoga River played a significant role in establishing Cleveland as an industrial center of national prominence, as evidenced by the buried warehouse and coal dock foundations, as well as the still-active Cuyahoga River shipping channel.

Two tunnels from the former Cleveland and Mahoning Railroad, a mid-19th-century short line connecting Cleveland to the coal fields of east central Ohio, pay tribute to the city’s industrial history while providing unique features for this Park and its trails. Irishtown Bend Park is adjacent to the Cleveland Foundation’s Centennial Lake Link Trail, which repurposed an abandoned rail line into a multipurpose trail that leads to Lake Erie.

When complete, Irishtown Bend Park will make history as one of the first U.S. waterfront parks directly connected to public housing.

Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) — the first chartered public housing authority in the U.S. — owns and manages Riverview Tower, a gateway into Irishtown Bend Park. Residents from the Riverview Tower and nearby Lakeview Terrace, another CMHA property, significantly contributed to the design of the Park through the Committee of Champions.

The plans for Irishtown Bend Park elevate resident empowerment, collaboration, and equity considerations. The voice and vision of our community have shaped every aspect of the plans for this Park, which will bring together people, nature, industry, and history in an inclusive and accessible space.

Partners from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors are working together to preserve riverfront land, enhance community health and connections, and establish the missing link between the 101-mile Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail and Lake Erie.

A vision for this space calls for the creation of a 23-acre site that will connect Ohio City on Cleveland's near west side to the Flats, Downtown, and Lake Erie. Stabilizing the hillside will make possible construction of a green space with unparalleled views of the Cuyahoga River and the downtown skyline, and regional trails connecting Lake Erie to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and points south on the 101-mile Towpath Trail.

In February 2021, two parcels of land on W. 25th Street - the former CMHA multifamily housing complex known as "Big 8", the former Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) administrative building were demoslished, signaling the first visible steps towards the reality of Irishtown Bend Park for a coalition of nonprofit and government partners which aim to clear and stabilize the Cuyahoga River hillside and transform it into the country's premier urban waterfront. Demolition of these buildings opened access to the edge of the Cuyahoga River valley and potentially reveal dramatic views now obstructed.

Project Updates

On December 6, 2022 The Irishtown Bend Park project received a $5M Challenge grant from The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation to create fundraising momentum around the Park's $45M capital campaign.

July, 2019 - The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded $9 million towards the stabilization of ITB through a grant from the department’s INFRA program, or Infrastructure For Rebuilding America, and will go to the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA). The money will enable installation of ~2,600 feet of sheet steel bulkheads along the river’s edge. As of July, 2019, partners in the combined project have raised nearly $19 million in government and charitable grants, with commitments for another $4.5 million worth of donated land.

February, 2021 - Construction fencing has been erected around one of two parcels of land on W. 25th Street - the former CMHA multifamily housing complex known as "Big 8", as one of the first chapters of many toward the stabilization of the Irishtown Bend hillside. The next building targeted for demolition, the former Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) administrative building, will immediately follow. Demolition of the “Big 8” building may begin as early as Noon on Monday, February 8, 2021.  

The fencing and imminent demolition signal the first visible steps towards the reality of Irishtown Bend for a coalition of nonprofit and government partners which aim to clear and stabilize the Cuyahoga River hillside and transform it into a 23-acre park. Demolition of these buildings will open access to the edge of the Cuyahoga River valley and potentially reveal dramatic views now obstructed.

Following a community-based effort to create a vision for a future greenspace, a coalition of nonprofit and governmental partners have been working together to both stabilize this portion of the Cuyahoga River shipping channel and use this opportunity to build a 23-acre riverfront park on this currently impenetrable land. Demolition of these buildings will open access to the potential of the Cuyahoga River valley and reveal dramatic views of the downtown skyline, which have been obstructed for decades.

LAND studio obtained a $1.4 million grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission’s Clean Ohio Conservation Fund, which covered the cost of land acquisition and demolition of these structures, which have sat vacant on W. 25th street for nearly a decade. Cleveland Metroparks is leading the demolition project.

Joel Wimbiscus, project manager at the nonprofit LAND studio, explains, “We are fortunate to have Cleveland Metroparks manage this demolition project. The clearing of these buildings will now give the community a better sense of the incredible potential this uninhabitable space offers. Once razed, the space the buildings will leave will offer Clevelanders a unique view none have seen for more than 50 years. This is an exciting time for this project.”

”Cleveland Metroparks estimates that this entire demolition will be completed within one month. Once the engineering and abatement recommendations were solidified, we were able to move quickly in hiring a contractor for the removal of these buildings with efficiency,” reports Sean McDermott, Chief Planning and Design Officer for Cleveland Metroparks.

Irishtown Bend is located in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood. Tom McNair, Executive Director of Ohio City Inc., offers, “Ohio City is a waterfront community from which you can neither see nor touch the water. This demolition marks the start of truly connecting our community to the waterfront and creating the first waterfront park in the nation directly attached to public housing. We are excited to enter this final phase of something so transformational, and working with our partners, the residents of Riverview Tower, Lakeview Estates and the broader community to create a regional asset.”

The Irishtown Bend project is made possible through a collaboration of both public and private partnerships. Alongside LAND studio, Cleveland Metroparks, Ohio City, Inc., West Creek Conservancy, Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority, The Port of Cleveland, City of Cleveland, NOACA, NEORSD, and Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless are working to stabilize the Irishtown Bend hillside, creating a trail that connects to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and a greenspace with spectacular views of the downtown skyline and the Cuyahoga River.

 

When completed, Irishtown Bend will feature a dynamic new riverfront public park, neighborhood connections, green infrastructure, new internal trails and links to adjacent regional trail and greenway networks. It will spur economic development in a racially-diverse, mixed-income neighborhood. It will also serve as a strong example of how Cleveland can reconcile its industrial past by reclaiming its natural heritage.

Steven Litt, The Plain Dealer, July 22, 2019

Awards

American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Award (Flats Connections Plan)

Map of Project
LAND Studio FORM

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