If you find yourself in the Circle this fall, one thing you might find is that Euclid Avenue, the booming legend of the twenties and thirties, is making a comeback. But rather than returning to a time long gone, the “great main street” is honoring history by transforming into a model for the future.
As part of its Bring Back Euclid Avenue campaign, UCI raised more than $7 million for investments with the help of the Kent H. Smith Charitable Trust to complement the contributions of the transit renovation and revival project. With this investment, improvements have been made that include the Visitor and Living in the Circle Center (opened in summer 2008), new directional and wayfinding signage (unveiled this past July), and streetscape enhancements such as lighting, benches, flower baskets, and banners that are currently underway.
But to get the full experience of the new Euclid Avenue, you really need to take a quick tour.
Let’s say you’re a staunch west-sider who rarely travels to the east side except for the occasional exhibit or event. You take the HealthLine from downtown to meet some friends for lunch in University Circle, because it’s only $2 and you’ve always been intimidated by the traffic. The last time you were in the neighborhood, Euclid Avenue was all torn up. The first thing you might notice as you enter the Circle is a new, bold sign on Stokes Boulevard that welcomes you to the neighborhood. You continue heading east, finding more signs of the same design with directions to the museums and hospitals. Even with construction, things seem a lot easier than you remember. Don’t blame your memory. Things have changed, and they keep changing for the better.
You get off at the Cornell Road stop, which is full of people waiting to board who are covered by scaffolding because the new University Hospitals Ireland Cancer Center is being built. It should open in about a year. To your left is the historic Commodore Place, with new, large glass windows, a brighter stone façade, and new retail. As you cross Cornell, you walk through the recently remodeled Uptown Plaza where students, construction workers, professionals, and hospital employees are enjoying lunch in a more accessible and attractive landscape. The project was completed this October.
Continue down Euclid Avenue across Mayfield Road, past the Uptown development location and the future site of the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (MOCA), all the way to the recently revamped Euclid Tavern, and you’ll find a beautiful building next to it that opens October 5: the new home of the Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center. The second major sustainable development in University Circle (Case Western Reserve University’s Village at 115 is considered the first), the center is a silver-level Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified building. The development was part of a $16 million campaign called Strong Voice Sound Tomorrow.
Across from the new Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center near the east end of University Circle is yet another project taking shape. Circle 118 is a collection of 17 modern townhomes championing sustainable design on Euclid Avenue. Construction is underway with the first set of four-story, eco-friendly townhomes that make use of sustainable materials while offering luxury standards.
The obvious contrast and unfussy mix of things old and new on Euclid Avenue is what makes University Circle a unique place to explore. So take a trip soon and see for yourself.
For more information on development updates in University Circle, visit www.universitycircle.org and look for our online-only annual report to be published this November.