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Issue Date: August 2013

Green Daze

The downtown malls are the city's front lawn, so why don't we hang out there?
Jason Brill

Daniel Burnham, the architect who designed Cleveland's 1903 Group Plan, would probably be scratching his head over what's become of Mall B. The new look of the formerly flat and not-terribly-useful downtown green space is now a sloping lawn that still doesn't appear to be particularly inviting.

The new look is a result of the reconstructed Cleveland Convention Center that lies underneath Mall B, but the makeover isn't the problem. The conundrum is: Why don't Clevelanders view downtown's public green spaces as places to relax and play?

LAND Studio executive director Ann Zoller helped staff a Group Plan Commission tasked with creating a vision for Malls B and C while also linking them to Public Square and the lakefront. Ideas discussed so far have included public art installations, a new fountain and a kids play area on Mall C.

We like where this talk is headed. Why not finally make good on that often-discussed and long-overdue Superman statue as a centerpiece of the space? Let's put in some fun fountains kids could play in. But enough about what we'd like to see in the plan — we also asked three Clevelanders familiar with downtown what they'd like to see happen on the malls.

 SOUNDS RAVE  You already know it's cool when the Cleveland Orchestra performs on Public Square. Joe Marinucci, president and CEO of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, wants to make the most of the sights and the slope that rises to 30 feet on Mall B by bringing entertainment to the amphitheaterlike space. "It is going to be a neat performance space and provide people with a great green knoll to enjoy concerts," he says.
 URBAN ACTIVE  What was once grass intersected by wide concrete walkways is now all green space —
1 1/2 football fields of it. Positively Cleveland president and CEO David Gilbert, also a Group Plan Commission board member, envisions residents and visitors on the malls playing Frisbee and throwing around a ball. "When people are hanging out downtown and the weather's nice, it could really be used as an active green space," he says.
 BEER FEST  How much better would Brewzilla be if it moved from the Galleria to an outdoor space? Sam McNulty, the guy behind Ohio City's Market Garden Brewery & Distillery and Nano Brew, sees the malls as a perfect spot for a local craft beer, spirits and wine festival. "There's nothing else going on [around the malls]," he says. "No restaurants. No bars. It's just a big open area waiting for someone to activate it."

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