the flats forward summit
Welcome, and thanks for attendingthe Flats Forward Waterfront Summit!
he Flats is the birthplace of the city, and theregion, in some ways. Moses Cleavelandlanded on the shores of the CuyahogaRiver in 1796 and his surveyors laid out whatthey believed would become the capital city ofthe region. While the Flats were originally wheresettlers established themselves, they eventuallymoved to higher ground and left the river valleyto commerce and industry, which took off in 1827,when the Ohio and Erie Canal was constructed.That was later replaced by railway. By the secondhalf of the 19th century, the Flats was home toa robust mix of industry--foundries and mills,lumberyards, shipyards, oil refineries, and paintand chemical manufacturers, among others.That’s ancient history. In recent decades, theneighborhood has seen tremendous decline. Withmultiple recessions and a steady population loss,there’s been a certain amount of decline acrossthe region, but the Flats has been the recipient ofa certain kind of neglect. The specific reasons forthis aren’t central to our current conversation, butthe result is simple--miles and miles of crumblinginfrastructure. There are riverbanks that threatento collapse into the shipping channel, miles ofbulkheading that has completely fallen apart. Thereare also acres upon acres of developable land, withdevelopers waiting for the right market conditionsto move a plan forward. And there are thousandsof people using the river and the neighborhood fora variety of purposes. Lake carriers filled with ironore and bulk construction material ply the shippingchannel. So, too, do rowers in single-personsculls, alongside recreational fishermen. Thereare residents, restaurants and bars, commercialand industrial enterprises, a steel mill, and anembarrassing wealth of surface parking lots.There is also some $2 billion of public and privateinvestment in development and infrastructureprojects all within a mile or so of the Flatsneighborhood. This includes large scale effortssuch as a new office tower on the East bank anda new bridge for the interstate highway above theriver valley; smaller projects such as the city’s new
letters : parkworks & the civic commons