SBD/April 20, 2011/Facilities

Browns Pitch Mixed-Use Development Next To Lakefront Stadium

Browns will advocate for, but not develop, property near stadium
Browns execs yesterday said that they "envision a mixed-use project, including athletic fields and a potential sports-medicine or wellness facility, on more than 20 acres north of Cleveland Browns Stadium," according to a front-page piece by Michelle Jarboe of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. The Browns and the city "expect to unveil their plans -- and a bid to bring the Cleveland Clinic to the project -- during a news conference today." A sketch of the "possible lakefront district also shows a 1,000-car parking garage to the south, connected to the stadium by an enclosed pedestrian walkway." The Browns believe that they can "use their local clout and widespread name recognition to attract developers and dollars to an extremely valuable, yet long-neglected, piece of downtown Cleveland." Browns President Mike Holmgren said, "We would like to be known as a catalyst. We're not developers. We're in the football business ... but we have a wonderful stadium down there and a great piece of property." The team has retained Hammes Co. to "study the potential of a lakefront site largely owned by the city of Cleveland." Greater Cleveland Partnership CEO Joe Roman contends that the proposal "builds on billions of dollars in downtown investment, including a medical mart, a new convention center, a casino and the Flats East Bank project; takes advantage of city-owned property; and focuses attention on a much-needed private-sector commitment to reinventing the waterfront." Team officials "did not shut the door Tuesday on putting money into projects -- at least, those associated with football -- but they stressed that the Browns are not developers" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 4/20).

PACE YOURSELF: In Cleveland, Steven Litt notes the "initial renderings of the Browns’ lakefront proposal," prepared by Boston-based Elkus Manfredi Architects, "look more polished than they actually are." The pitch is "intended to create interest among potential developers, who would then hire their own architects and come up with their own plans." Despite the "early and hypothetical nature of the Browns’ vision, it’s important to make sure that Cleveland is sending clear signals to potential developers about civic goals for the lakefront." Litt notes now that the Browns have announced the plan, they could "work with Elkus Manfredi and with the public to develop urban-design guidelines that express firm understandings about views, public spaces, sustainability and other features that could help make their project a success" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 4/20).
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Cleveland Browns, Facilities

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