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Mayor Frank Jackson names power brokers to city spaces panel

 

Published: Tuesday, June 29, 2010, 9:21 PM

Steven Litt, The Plain Dealer

 

Commission members include Cavs owner and casino developer Dan Gilbert; developer Albert Ratner, co-chairman of Forest City Enterprises; Ronn Richard, president and chief executive officer of the Cleveland Foundation; and Jennifer Coleman, an architect who serves as chairwoman of the city's Design Review Committee and vice chairwoman of the Landmarks Commission.

 

http://blog.cleveland.com/architecture/2010/06/mayor_frank_jackson_names_powe.html

 

Why not someone from ParkWorks or better yet from UO, 'bout time we get some r-e-s-p-e-c-t

 

 

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The composition of this panel suggests that it's less about the project succeeding and more about the mayor succeeding.

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EDIT, I didn't get the context of KJP's post at first (duh!).

 

Not the most exciting crowd to be assessing our marquee public spaces... but I hope they at least have their wallets open at the end of the day, even if it's just to pay the design consultants.

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In fairness, Dan Gilbert could sign with the Knicks or the Bulls as of 12:01 tomorrow, so we'd better ingratiate ourselves as much as possible. 

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OK...so who would you rather see on the panel that is more versed in urban design that has the capital and business/political connections to make something happen?

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I'm speechless when looking at the list of people on the panel.  And not speechless in a good way.

 

Not many people capable of understanding design etc. :? 

The most I can figure is having some of the corporate involvelent may open the door to corporate contributions......  to the project I meant..

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The composition of this panel suggests that it's less about the project succeeding and more about the mayor succeeding.

 

Actually, it's about both.  To wit:

Finding money is another part of the job.

 

"Their role is really to focus on appropriate design and look at funding opportunities, but not by going to the city or the county," said Ken Silliman, the mayor's chief of staff.

 

A huge part of the panel's job (if not its primary job) will be to round up private funding for the public spaces, and in order to get wealthy folks and corporations to open up their pocketbooks, you need folks on the panel with these connections.

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I didn't realize being on a design panel required capital and business/political connections.  That kind of thinking has gotten us in trouble before.  Hint: conflicts of interest.  I like Dan Gilbert, his philosophies and his actions, but I would prefer a more professional approach to planning and landscape design.

 

The composition of this panel suggests that it's less about the project succeeding and more about the mayor succeeding.

 

Actually, it's about both.  To wit:

Finding money is another part of the job.

 

"Their role is really to focus on appropriate design and look at funding opportunities, but not by going to the city or the county," said Ken Silliman, the mayor's chief of staff.

 

A huge part of the panel's job (if not its primary job) will be to round up private funding for the public spaces, and in order to get wealthy folks and corporations to open up their pocketbooks, you need folks on the panel with these connections.

 

OK that makes more sense, although those are two very different jobs.

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I'm not sure what everyone is so worked up about at this point.  Jennifer Coleman is on the committee to, I'm sure, facilitate design discussion. Though I have no doubt that eventually a firm will be brought in to do the actual design work.  The rest of the group represents the largest business interests in downtown, the philanthropic community, and the corporate real estate community.  I always hear bitching about not having enough public - private partnership... what do you think this group is formed to do?  They've selected the top names out of the private sector and non profits to start generating interest and eventually bring in $$$ so the city and the county aren't on the hook for all of this. Because frankly they couldn't afford to do what needs done alone.  Sheesh.

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I didn't realize being on a design panel required capital and business/political connections.  That kind of thinking has gotten us in trouble before.  Hint: conflicts of interest.  I like Dan Gilbert, his philosophies and his actions, but I would prefer a more professional approach to planning and landscape design.

 

When your objective is to raise funding for a public project, yes, those are requirements.  Unless you think a landscape/design firm is more likely to have an investor give them millions of dollars over Dan Gilbert.

 

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OK.  So my shock at seeing Holmgren and Dolan on this New Group Plan Board is over. The people on the board are:

 

 

-Dan Gilbert-Cavs owner and developer of Cleveland's casino which should integrate well with the existing structures (funding/design)

-Al Ratner (developer)

-Ronn Richard from the Cleveland Foundation (grants/funding)

-Jen Coleman on the Cleveland Design Review committee (design)

-Paul Clark from PNC (funding)

-Paul Dolan (WHAT place does he serve on this board)

-Mike Holmgren (WHAT place does he serve on this board)

-Eugine Sanders (Education)

-Kathryn Lincoln from the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy in Cambridge, Mass (design, GREAT person to have on the board)

-Henry Meyer III with Keycorp (funding) 

-Don Misheff from Ernst and Young (legal)

-Douglas Miller with Jacobs Real Estate Services (developer) 

-Felton Thomas with the Cleveland Public Library (education). 

 

I was speechless when seeing two of these names.  Unless the mall is designed to serve some type of sports function, why the FRACK are Holmgren and Dolan on this board?  What purpose do they serve?  Holmgren just came to town not too long ago... and knows what it takes to get a team a Superbowl championship.  That's great.  But WHAT does he know about urban design?  Dolan- WHAT does he know about ANYTHING?...... (Just kidding)

 

Dan Gilbert- well, he might not be versed in urban design, but I can see why he would be on this board.  His initiative brought casinos to this state, along with a potential funding mechanism to fund the redesign of the mall.  Along with what we've heard about the design of the casino, which sounds like it should be well integrated with the existing infrastructure.     

 

OK.  I feel better now.  Whooosaaaaa

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I'm not sure what everyone is so worked up about at this point.  Jennifer Coleman is on the committee to, I'm sure, facilitate design discussion. Though I have no doubt that eventually a firm will be brought in to do the actual design work.  The rest of the group represents the largest business interests in downtown, the philanthropic community, and the corporate real estate community.  I always hear bitching about not having enough public - private partnership... what do you think this group is formed to do?  They've selected the top names out of the private sector and non profits to start generating interest and eventually bring in $$$ so the city and the county aren't on the hook for all of this. Because frankly they couldn't afford to do what needs done alone.  Sheesh.

 

I suppose you're right, but this is not at all the sort of public-private partnership I've been talking about.  This involves giving private developers control over explicitly public spaces, and to an extent, public funds.  That's the opposite of a traditional public-private partnership, in which the public takes a more active hand in development.  Parks aren't development, parks are a public function.  Hence the trepidation with putting developers in control of it.  They each have personal interests which may conflict with those of the public.  This issue is not entirely dissimilar from that of privately-controlled traffic enforcement cameras.  Some things are public for a reason, and I don't like it when the line is crossed.

 

Then again, I don't think this is a major issue, just an eyebrow-raiser.

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"Unless the mall is designed to serve some type of sports function, why the FRACK are Holmgren and Dolan on this board?  What purpose do they serve?  Holmgren just came to town not too long ago... and knows what it takes to get a team a Superbowl championship.  That's great.  But WHAT does he know about urban design?  Dolan- WHAT does he know about ANYTHING?......"

 

Equally puzzled by this....

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First, these people are not the "design team" there will undoubtedly be a gagillion public meetings, and they will undoubtedly hire a design team that will do the actual work.  Secondly, the heads of the three city sports teams are involved because not only do those entities bring in roughly 6 million visitors to downtown each and every year.  They are also HUGE economic engines and charitable trusts.  I am sure that in the end each of these entities will make rather substantial donations to this project, and for that I think getting the heads of the organization involved in the process is the right thing to do (if you want them to contribute to this).

 

But again, I think everyone is looking at this completely wrong.  This is NOT the design panel, though there are a couple of very capable design principals strageically added to help facilitate that discussion. But again, they will end up hiring a firm for that.  What they have done is brought the heads of the largest private and philanthropic entities in downtown all to the table.  As they should at this point.

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Ok, ok....  I guess I was hoping to see a little more balance (and I guess there is some, but why arent you on it McC?),

 

But... I'll trust what your saying McCleveland. 

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And further clarification: this is a commission; it has no authority to do anything to the public spaces.  It will be up to the Mayor and City Council to adopt or reject its recommendations.

 

I understand the importance of bringing deep pockets to the table, but I still think the commission's membership leaves a lot to be desired.  No elected officials?  No downtown residents (that I know of)?  Only one designer?  No RTA or other transportation rep?  I don't think this is a disaster, but I think this group is heavily lopsided towards implementation and severely lacking in visioning.  The design consultants will obviously do the heavy lifting, but they're going to need some guidance too. I would be very interested in seeing how other cities have approached similar challenges- and I say that without preconceived notions.

 

-Kathryn Lincoln from the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy in Cambridge, Mass (design, GREAT person to have on the board)

 

I could be wrong, but I don't think she brings much design expertise to the table.  She's there because of the opportunity for a grant from the LI (endowed by an AZ branch of the original Lincoln Electric family).

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And further clarification: this is a commission; it has no authority to do anything to the public spaces. It will be up to the Mayor and City Council to adopt or reject its recommendations.

 

I understand the importance of bringing deep pockets to the table, but I still think the commission's membership leaves a lot to be desired. No elected officials? No downtown residents (that I know of)? Only one designer? No RTA or other transportation rep? I don't think this is a disaster, but I think this group is heavily lopsided towards implementation and severely lacking in visioning. The design consultants will obviously do the heavy lifting, but they're going to need some guidance too. I would be very interested in seeing how other cities have approached similar challenges- and I say that without preconceived notions.

 

-Kathryn Lincoln from the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy in Cambridge, Mass (design, GREAT person to have on the board)

 

I could be wrong, but I don't think she brings much design expertise to the table. She's there because of the opportunity for a grant from the LI (endowed by an AZ branch of the original Lincoln Electric family).

 

You really want RTA involved in this?  I wouldn't say they have great vision, planning, or any of the tools to make this work.

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^Yeah, I can't argue with you.  It's tempting to to just adopt a design without considering the buses and tell RTA to deal with it...  But public square is our main ground transportation hub, so at the very least, it would be great if the commission had more than one or two people who had ever taken RTA (seriously, I doubt it's more than a couple people).

 

I don't mean to overreact here, I just think the commission could have been a little larger to include some different types of voices.  If Parkworks is going to be doing the real liaising with the design consultants with the commission really just in charge of lining up financing, then I'm happy enough.

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You really want RTA involved in this?  I wouldn't say they have great vision, planning, or any of the tools to make this work.

 

As a stakeholder? Yes, I do. They are the project sponsor for the intermodal transportation center, so they'd better be involved in some form.

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People, this group contains ALL the movers and shakers of this town.  They are the ones who will figure out a way to get the plans that the team composed of MMPI, ParkWorks, Cleveland Public Art, KSU's Urban design collective, among others will hash out.

 

It is an awesome team the Mayor has put together 

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exactly. this team won't design the malls/ps... they will move it forward.

 

Shoot, I was seriously hoping for some goal posts and an on-deck circle.

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exactly. this team won't design the malls/ps... they will move it forward.

 

Shoot, I was seriously hoping for some goal posts and an on-deck circle.

 

Please turn in your Moderator badge.

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I had thought the commission was also going to coordinate the designs of the two public spaces to ensure they were complimentary.  Essentially, someone has to allocate the laundry list of desired uses/programming between the two.  I guess it's less clear to me now who's going to  be making those types of decisions.

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I find this whole process to be a major step for the mayor. Bringing big powerful (business) minds together into one room has not been his style in the past. This is an exciting moment for Cleveland.

 

This is the exact sort of thinking that was not present during our 90s building boom (gateway, RRHF, CBS). While those projects were in no means failures (well, CBS..), imagine if we had thought about how to create better linkages between those projects.

 

Don't think that this is just about getting a better Mall built. This is just as much about linking the casino, FEB, Canal Basin, PS, NCH, etc.

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I find this whole process to be a major step for the mayor. Bringing big powerful (business) minds together into one room has not been his style in the past. This is an exciting moment for Cleveland.

 

This is the exact sort of thinking that was not present during our 90s building boom (gateway, RRHF, CBS). While those projects were in no means failures (well, CBS..), imagine if we had thought about how to create better linkages between those projects.

 

Don't think that this is just about getting a better Mall built. This is just as much about linking the casino, FEB, Canal Basin, PS, NCH, etc.

 

That indeed is great!  :clap:

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^^Actually, I think I disagree a bit- the 1990s big ticket development boom was heavily driven by a room full of powerful business interests.  I don't mean that cynically.  Cleveland Tomorrow played a huge role in Gateway and RRHOF.  And earlier in Tower City and Playhouse Square.  I guess I don't see this commission as much of an innovation- maybe for the current Mayor, but not for the city.  As McCleveland said, it's  more like a return to the 1990s and the public/private partnerships...which as you pointed out gave us some mixed results.  Results none the less though, I suppose.

 

EDIT:

 

Don't think that this is just about getting a better Mall built. This is just as much about linking the casino, FEB, Canal Basin, PS, NCH, etc.

 

I hear ya, but should the city planners inside city hall be doing some of this, with or without a commission?  Honest question- I know it's influence changes depending on who's running the place.  In the 1990s, it seemed as if Hunter Morrison, Mike White and the CEOs on Cleveland Tomorrow more or less decided how the big projects would play out.

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^Yeah, I can't argue with you. It's tempting to to just adopt a design without considering the buses and tell RTA to deal with it... But public square is our main ground transportation hub, so at the very least, it would be great if the commission had more than one or two people who had ever taken RTA (seriously, I doubt it's more than a couple people).

 

I don't mean to overreact here, I just think the commission could have been a little larger to include some different types of voices. If Parkworks is going to be doing the real liaising with the design consultants with the commission really just in charge of lining up financing, then I'm happy enough.

 

You really want RTA involved in this? I wouldn't say they have great vision, planning, or any of the tools to make this work.

 

As a stakeholder? Yes, I do. They are the project sponsor for the intermodal transportation center, so they'd better be involved in some form.

 

I agree here that they should be informed and make observations of how changes may affect routes, but I would not want them actually on the commission making decisions.  They need to show that they can take care of their own room before they are allowed to advise on anther's room.

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^Yeah, I can't argue with you.  It's tempting to to just adopt a design without considering the buses and tell RTA to deal with it...  But public square is our main ground transportation hub, so at the very least, it would be great if the commission had more than one or two people who had ever taken RTA (seriously, I doubt it's more than a couple people).

 

I don't mean to overreact here, I just think the commission could have been a little larger to include some different types of voices.  If Parkworks is going to be doing the real liaising with the design consultants with the commission really just in charge of lining up financing, then I'm happy enough.

 

You really want RTA involved in this?  I wouldn't say they have great vision, planning, or any of the tools to make this work.

 

As a stakeholder? Yes, I do. They are the project sponsor for the intermodal transportation center, so they'd better be involved in some form.

 

I agree here that they should be informed and make observations of how changes may affect routes, but I would not want them actually on the commission making decisions.  They need to show that they can take care of their own room before they are allowed to advise on anther's room.

 

Do you understand what their role is/will be??

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^Actually, I think I disagree a bit- the 1990s big ticket development boom was heavily driven by a room full of powerful business interests. I don't mean that cynically. Cleveland Tomorrow played a huge role in Gateway and RRHOF. And earlier in Tower City and Playhouse Square. I guess I don't see this commission as much of an innovation- maybe for the current Mayor, but not for the city. As McCleveland said, it's more like a return to the 1990s and the public/private partnerships...which as you pointed out gave us some mixed results. Results none the less though, I suppose.

 

Public - Private partnerships... but... 3231 is right.  This is a collaboration about linkages, people finally seem to be coming to the realization that individual projects are nice, but a great public realm is needed to connect those places to really drive private investment.  I've not seen anything like this in my lifetime.  When you hear people talking these days there is a LOT of synergies and collaborations taking place.  I too think this is an incredibly exciting moment for cleveland, I think more and more people are starting to "get it".

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^Yeah, I can't argue with you. It's tempting to to just adopt a design without considering the buses and tell RTA to deal with it... But public square is our main ground transportation hub, so at the very least, it would be great if the commission had more than one or two people who had ever taken RTA (seriously, I doubt it's more than a couple people).

 

I don't mean to overreact here, I just think the commission could have been a little larger to include some different types of voices. If Parkworks is going to be doing the real liaising with the design consultants with the commission really just in charge of lining up financing, then I'm happy enough.

 

You really want RTA involved in this? I wouldn't say they have great vision, planning, or any of the tools to make this work.

 

As a stakeholder? Yes, I do. They are the project sponsor for the intermodal transportation center, so they'd better be involved in some form.

 

I agree here that they should be informed and make observations of how changes may affect routes, but I would not want them actually on the commission making decisions. They need to show that they can take care of their own room before they are allowed to advise on anther's room.

 

Do you understand what their role is/will be??

Right now I don't believe they are involved with the commission.  So as I understand it their role is doing nothing (insert witty comment of choice).  Strap indicated that he wanted them on the commission, I'm not sure that would be a productive addition.  I do agree that they should be involved with the process in a limited capacity, but I think that RTA has other items they should be worried about.  Like not letting grant funding for the NCTC slip through their fingers.

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^Actually, I think I disagree a bit- the 1990s big ticket development boom was heavily driven by a room full of powerful business interests. I don't mean that cynically. Cleveland Tomorrow played a huge role in Gateway and RRHOF. And earlier in Tower City and Playhouse Square. I guess I don't see this commission as much of an innovation- maybe for the current Mayor, but not for the city. As McCleveland said, it's more like a return to the 1990s and the public/private partnerships...which as you pointed out gave us some mixed results. Results none the less though, I suppose.

 

Public - Private partnerships... but... 3231 is right. This is a collaboration about linkages, people finally seem to be coming to the realization that individual projects are nice, but a great public realm is needed to connect those places to really drive private investment. I've not seen anything like this in my lifetime. When you hear people talking these days there is a LOT of synergies and collaborations taking place. I too think this is an incredibly exciting moment for cleveland, I think more and more people are starting to "get it".

 

I certainly like the way you and 3231 describe today's planning landscape.  I guess I would like to know more about how this commission fits into the collaboration, and I'm sure more info will come along.  Hunter Morrison's planning staff and the corporate titans during the White administration were not totally oblivious to linkages- hence Civic Vision 2000, the Waterfront Line and the Tower City/Gateway walkway - there was a LOT  of excitement back then about how all the pieces were fitting together.  I guess I was just a bit chastened by the results of the 1990s process and its heavy reliance on the city's business elite.  I guess one difference is the current supporting cast (Parkworks, the current CPC) is sufficiently clued in to help deliver a good product.

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I would liken any linkages then soley to the then head of RTA, and transportation linkages.  Most of the developments were separately planned with little thought given to public spaces and how they can affect future investment.

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^I don't know, I still think you're being a little harsh on the process in 1990s- Civic Vicion 2000 (and I'm betting you have an old floppy copy in your office like I do :) ) illustrated a lot of the same spin-off development opportunities and public space improvements we're still talking about today, including just north of the Mall (linking to the waterfront), and just east of NCH.

 

In any case, I am happy to agree to disagree about the 1990s and happy to concede that these are new projects, with a new cast of planners, designers and corporate muckety-mucks.  So aside from some lingering uncertainty about the precise role of the commission and how it will interact with the rest of the parties, I am happy to look forward and get excited :).

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Yes civic vision 2000 was pretty (sorry, no floppy, but if you have an extra i'd love a copy! :)) Was any of it done?

 

I guess my point is, for all the building in the 90's there wasn't a single dynamic urban public space created.  Primarily because there was no real involvement from the private sector to make any of those "civic visions" a reality.

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For those that are saying these peopleare not to be thinking about the design of this,

 

"Their role is really to focus on appropriate design and look at funding opportunities, but not by going to the city or the county," said Ken Silliman, the mayor's chief of staff.

 

There isn't a single person on this panel that has any credentials or experience in organizing the design, planning, and implimentation of a large urban space.  I really expect nothing from this panel.

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Yes civic vision 2000 was pretty (sorry, no floppy, but if you have an extra i'd love a copy! :)) Was any of it done?

 

EDIT: ha- by floppy I didn't mean an old floppy disk, just that the oversized, soft bound volumes were big and flexible and cumbersome to store.

 

Well after tearing apart my office, I can only find the Citywide plan and not the downtown plan.  They are big and annoying to pack and put on shelves so who knows what I did with it over the years  Anyway, going from memory alone, yes, lots of what was shown in Civic Vision 2000 Downtown Plan (actually published in 1988, I believe) was done: Gateway, the WFL, North Coast Harbor, Star Plaza.  And with lots of private sector involvement.  And not just any private sector, but executives from many of the same companies/foundations represented on this commission.  The involvement of corporate Cleveland in making things happen in the 1990s was widely heralded and was turned into a HBS case study.  Again, I'm not exactly pleased with the mega projects of the 1990s- I am certainly not defending that legacy.  And I'm not stuck in the past- I know this is a different era and new projects.  Just explaining why I'm just a little bit wary celebrating this current commission as an innovation and why I am not totally convinced it will deliver the best results if their role really includes focusing on appropriate design as Ken Silliman describes it (thanks w28th for the quote).

 

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