CRS Opinion Regarding the Rock Gaming Casino Parking Plan

The Cleveland Restoration Society opposes the demolition of the Columbia Block at 112 Prospect Avenue for the Rock Gaming casino parking plan. The Columbia Block is a designated Cleveland Landmark and has historic and architectural significance.

Built in 1908 by Great Lakes shipbuilder Morris A. Bradley as a companion to the now-demolished Marine Building, the Columbia was designed by Marion E. Wells. Wells also designed the Marion Building (1276 West 3rd) & Bolton Pratt Building (1278 West 4th) both in the Historic Warehouse District, and Holy Ghost Byzantine Church in Tremont. The Columbia features the first 8-storey reinforced concrete skeleton frame in Cleveland. It has served as the headquarters of the Nickel Plate and Lackawanna Railroads, Dyke College (later Myers University) and the Cleveland Restoration Society's Artifactory.

Much has been reported in the Plain Dealer by reporters Dave Davis and Steven Litt so we will not repeat this information. However, there are a few points we would like to make regarding this matter.

Click on the headings to read more:

This parking plan has been fast-tracked...

  • This parking plan has been fast-tracked making permanent parking for a possibly temporary location of the casino.
  • No other $400 million Cleveland project has allowed for the demolition of landmarks without developed and discussed urban designs and architectural renderings. 
  • This quick change in venues for the casino and the impacts on Cleveland's downtown fabric has thoughtful people who care about the vitality of Cleveland and good design greatly concerned. 
  • There has not been a public input process leading many to complain that this has not been a transparent process.      

The Conceptual design calls into question too many urban design matters

  • The conceptual design calls into question too many urban design matters to list here. Some of the most troubling include:
  • The flow of traffic (schematics show four (4) lanes for valet);
  • Surrounding the Stanley Block Building with glassy curves that are not contextual with the surrounding built environment;
  • Removal of the eight (8) story, 88,655 square foot landmark Columbia building which could be a vital, living location for a dead zone of parking;
  • And, placing hundreds of people per day on the street in one constricted location. 
  • No true effort to develop alternative scenarios was attempted. 

The proposed skywalk into the landmark Higbee Building is contrary to historic preservation

  • The proposed skywalk into the landmark Higbee Building is contrary to historic preservation standards and most likely will not be approved by the Ohio Historic Preservation Office during the federal tax credit approval process.

The Cleveland Landmarks Commission approved the demolition (with members planning on bidding for work)

  • The Cleveland Landmarks Commission approved the demolition in a 4-3 vote. Two citizen members abstained.  
  • The 4 "for demolition" votes were exclusively from City of Cleveland officials. 
  • The 3 "no demolition" votes were from the commission members who represent the citizens of Cleveland. 
  • Two citizen members abstained from voting, thus removing any chance of the pro-preservation forces winning the day. 
  • As we understand it, both members intended to bid on work for the casino.
  • This spotlights a problem with large projects which create conflicts with no back-up commission members.

Go to the Cleveland Landmarks Commission page to view images of the Columbia Block and proposed Casino Plans.

The "Brain Gain" Population

downtown-is-our-townOne of the most interesting aspects of this process has been the emergence of Cleveland's young professionals, the brain gain population who live downtown or in Tremont or Ohio City. These folks want a transparent process and attention by the city to the issues of vitality – using buildings such as the Columbia Building for lofts and restaurants, not parking.

This group has started a Facebook page, Save Lower Prospect Avenue." We are amazed that they have 479 members as of this writing. This is the very demographic that Cleveland needs to retain and recruit.

We salute these young advocates for preservation and good design.

Visit our feedback page to post or view comments about the Casino parking plan or our other advocacy efforts.