By Vanesa Brashier, email@example.com
In an effort to keep the downtown district vital and vibrant, the City of Cleveland and the Cleveland EDC approved a $350,000 project that will install new sidewalks and additional parking spaces along Travis Street on the north side of Houston Street to Booth Street. The project is expected to be completed within 120 days, weather permitting.
“The entire project on that couple of blocks will give us 10 more parking spaces. When that side is complete, there will be more parking for the storefronts on the north side of Houston St.,” said Cleveland City Manager Kelly McDonald. “On the east side of Travis Street, we are going to go in and redo all the sidewalks as well. Some of our drainage issues will be addressed at that time, too.”
The sidewalk and parking project is part of a two-phase plan the city has had in the works for a number of years. The second phase, which may be funded as early as next year, will replace parallel parking and sidewalks along Travis Street on the south side of Houston Street to Hanson Street.
“At that time, we will be closing the Hanson Street railroad crossing. Years ago, the city agreed to close that railroad crossing by gaining another crossing where Liberty Motorsports Park was expected to go,” McDonald said.
Even though plans for the motorsports park fell through, the City could not undo its agreement with UP and the railroad crossing was transferred.
“At that time, the 105 Loop wasn’t in. Union Pacific agreed not to close the Hanson Street railroad crossing until after the loop was in,” McDonald said. “They contacted us several months back about closing it down.”
McDonald said the City has been in talks with the current owner of the old rail depot that once stood beside the train tracks downtown. She said the hope is that the depot can be relocated to the downtown area and restored as a museum, visitors center or chamber of commerce office.
“We’ve not tied down an exact figure on the purchase of the building, but it’s something we hope to see in the works soon,” she said. “Structurally it is sound but it will need some restoration work. The challenge will be moving it.
McDonald believes that downtown districts are the heart of any community, particularly small cities like Cleveland.
“In order to keep a downtown area vital and vibrant, you need to beautify it so the small businesses will come in and locate in downtown,” she said. “Those businesses help bring more people to a downtown area. I am really excited that The Crossing coffee shop has been able to offer a breakfast and lunch menu. I think that shop has brought a lot of interest and traffic to the downtown area.”
McDonald wants to see the momentum continue.
“We need more things like The Crossing to keep the downtown area growing. We have had some interest in some other vacant properties and we have talked to some of the business owners,” she said. “I think with this project they will see that the city is serious about its plans to beautify downtown.”