Cleveland Flats Connections Plan

Cleveland, OH

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Revitalizing a Post-Industrial Riverfront

Bound by bluffs to the east and west, the Cuyahoga has historically divided communities; industrial, rail, and highway infrastructure associated with the river’s role as a regional shipping corridor has disconnected the Flats from its waterfront, created barriers among communities, and for decades degraded their waterways by pollution and industrial use. A consortium of diverse local stakeholders retained the design team to investigate potential open space and trail connections to bridge this gap in access, with the goal of uniting the Flats with its waterfront and linking the region to Lake Erie along the Cuyahoga and through the heart of Cleveland. The Flats Connections Plan provides much-needed open space within the Flats neighborhood, transforming underutilized and vacant sites and preserving land along the river that would be prime real estate for public benefit. The Plan includes analysis, engagement, and conceptual designs for three major components: The Lake Link Trail, Irishtown Bend, and Wendy Park.

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The Lake Link Trail utilizes the abandoned right-of-way of the City's first rail line. The railway links important historic resources throughout the Flats, including unique site features and industrial relics that can be adapted for new public uses. Irishtown Bend is a 34-acre vacant site on the banks of the Cuyahoga, rendered unstable by severe erosion that threatens the stability of the hillside and river channel. The vision for the park weaves together current and historic uses in a new riverfront park that provides recreational and open space opportunities. Wendy Park is an existing park that terminates the Flats Connections Plan at the nexus of the Cuyahoga and Lake Erie. The vision for the park's future includes a new pedestrian bridge that connects the neighborhood to new marsh restoration areas, a Learning Center, and new social spaces that celebrate the park's lacustrine landscape and downtown views.
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Image Credit: LAND Studio

The Plan has cultivated appreciation and investment in the public value and potential of Cleveland’s riverfront open spaces. This multi-year effort has forged innovative partnerships, identified opportunities to preserve real estate for public benefit, and developed a framework for conservancy of the abandoned industrial landscapes of the Flats, through a simple but transformative premise: create new, equitable public access for neighborhood’s communities, connecting a missing link.