Cleveland has begun a complete overhaul of entertainment facilities and places to go in the last two years. After the approval of the casino, medical mart and convention center, new building projects are appearing everywhere. One of these projects is the plan to rebuild the Flats East Bank area, so it can become its own popular entertainment destination. Scott Wolstein, the developer in charge of the project, explained in a statement that they do not want to bring the old Flats back, but instead they want to revitalize it and make it better than before.
The $500 million project, headed by Fairmount Properties LLC and The Wolstein Group, has been planned in two phases. The first phase consists of a cutting edge office building with an open-air deck that will house tenants such as Ernst & Young and Tucker Ellis, among others. In addition to the office building, a 150-room boutique Aloft hotel by Starwood will be opened along with restaurants, a 16,000-plus square-foot health club, a 1,200-foot riverside boardwalk and other entertainment venues. The second phase of the project will include a 140-unit residential complex, as well as other restaurant, shopping and entertainment options.
The first phase is nearly complete, including the office building and three restaurants, Ken Stewart’s, Willeyville and Lago. Further details about the second phase were announced Wednesday, April 10. The new restaurants to the area include Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill, Flip Side burger joint, the Columbus-born sports bar BBR with live music, a Chicago pub called the Beer Market and The Big Bang dueling piano bar.
One of the most exciting restaurants for the area is a two-story Panini’s Bar & Grill complete with multiple outdoor patios, fire pits and boat docking. Panini’s originally started in the Flats area in 1986, and their return to Flats area has been much anticipated since closing their original restaurant on the east bank of the Flats.
In addition to the restaurants and entertainment sites, there is going to be a vast amount of public area for Clevelanders’ use. The boardwalk will connect many of the public areas, and there are 10 acres of planned green space that will include open recreation fields. Three acres of beach will be open to the public for lounging, sunbathing and beach volleyball. A market pavilion and public space for street fair, art exhibitions, farmer’s market and concerts will be located next to the boardwalk by the river. Finally, there will be an access point from the Flats to the Towpath Trail, a 100-mile long path of the historic Ohio and Erie Canal.
Not only will there be lots of green space, but there is also an emphasis placed on ensuring that the whole project is as eco-friendly as possible. The United States Green Building Council certified the Flats East Bank Project as meeting the requirements for Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Design for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND). The project underwent careful scrutiny and was approved as one of the first LEED-ND certified areas in the country. It was certified by the use of both recycled building material and reduced water use in the project.
Students have expressed excitement about the prospect of having a whole new entertainment area in Cleveland.
“This sounds awesome, especially for me, as an upperclassman who can actually go to bars,” junior Christin VanAtta said. “But, for underclassmen, this might not help the issue of not having places to go much, since they typically lack transportation. My friends and I love going downtown, mainly to West 6th, so this would be a great asset.”
Sophomore Steven Henderson agreed, saying, “I definitely could see myself going downtown to take advantage of the developed Flats. I think it will be great during the parts of the semester in which the weather is nice, due to the fact that this will all be built right on the lake.”
Henderson, who also serves as vice president for student organizations, continued, “I think these developments will positively affect the economy of Cleveland. It makes John Carroll and the Cleveland area an even more attractive atmosphere for college students.”