CLEVELAND, July 13, 2023 — The Port of Cleveland board or directors today approved the hiring of an Ohio construction company for nearly $60 million to stabilize and rehabilitate the Irishtown Bend hillside, a project critical to maintaining the Cuyahoga River shipping channel that will also lead to the creation of a 23-acre park.

Goettle Inc., a Cincinnati-based company with expertise in deep foundations, earth retention systems and marine construction, is expected to start work on the project by early September. Linda Sternheimer, the Port’s Vice President of Urban Planning and Engagement, said the construction project is expected to take 18 to 24 months.

Irishtown Bend is between West 25th Street and the Cuyahoga River, and between Columbus Road and the Detroit Superior Bridge. Once the hillside is stabilized and the new bulkhead is in place, plans are to transform the area into a park, a major asset for the adjacent neighborhood, which includes about 2,000 public housing residents, as well as for the entire region. The creation of the park brings the total project cost to about $100 million.

The first step in the stabilization process will be to remove fill material placed on the hillside in the 1960s that will reduce the forces causing the slope failure when combined with the natural geology of the site. That slope failure has eroded the roadbed of, and caused the 2007 closure of, Riverbed Road and threatens a key sewer line that services Cleveland’s west side. The project also includes replacing more than 2,100 linear feet of bulkhead

The Port has been leading the effort to stabilize Irishtown Bend since 2013. “Many people don’t understand how much work has been involved in getting us to this point,’’ said Sternheimer. “Such a large infrastructure project requires intricate coordination and funding efforts.  This is a big milestone.’’

Port President and CEO William Friedman said many government entities and non-profits have been crucial partners in getting the project started.

“The danger that this hillside could slip into the shipping channel and impact our waterfront economy and thousands of jobs is very real,’’ he said. “Such a disaster would have drastic, adverse economic ripple effects throughout the region. Many area leaders understood this and supported our efforts.’’

A video simulation of such a collapse can be viewed here.

Friedman noted those leaders included Grace Gallucci, Executive Director and CEO of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordination Agency, which helped secure at least 40 percent of the funding for the project.

“NOACA is very excited to see the Irishtown Bend project finally move forward into the construction phase,” Gallucci said. “”This transportation project is crucial to economic development and quality of life in Northeast Ohio, which is precisely the reason NOACA identified it as regionally significant and contributed nearly half of the necessary funding to bring it to fruition.’’

Additional critical funding for the project has come from the Port, the City of Cleveland and various Ohio and federal agencies.

“Goettle is thrilled to be on the Irishtown Bend project team,” said Brian Heck, the company’s vice president. “We look forward to lending our expertise in sheet pile construction to stabilize the landslide and build the foundation for the future greenway.  We know this is a significant project that has been in the works for a long time.  We are excited to engage not only with the project team but also the community stakeholders to provide a successful, on time and on budget project.’’

The project was delayed by a lawsuit to acquire an easement on the last parcel needed to start stabilization. That delay of more than two years took place during an unprecedented time of inflation in the construction sector. In total, project costs increased 32%, about half of that in steel costs alone, said Sternheimer. To help with that, the Port board today authorized accepting more than $3.5 million in grant funds that they sought from Ohio Department of Transportation Maritime Assistance Program.

Painesville project key to remaking property across from Veterans Park

In other action, the Port board approved providing up to $7 million in conduit bond financing for a $25.1 million project to redevelop a downtown Painesville office building. The Victoria Place Office Building is being redone by Renew Partners and will include residential units and space for offices, retail, restaurants and a conference center. The Cleveland Port is working collaboratively with the Lake County Ohio Port & Economic Development Authority via a Cooperative Agreement which is subject to approval by the Lake County Port board.

When completed, the Victoria Place Office Building will have three stories including 75 residential units, about 29,800 sq. ft. of office space, 7,400 sq. ft. of retail space, 5,800 sq. ft of restaurant space and about 1,200 sq. ft. for a conference center.

The 1.84 acre site is on the Painesville Square, across from Veterans Park. This isn’t Renew’s first project in that immediate area. The company is working with Lake Erie College on student housing at the square.

Renew Partners is a development and management company focused on the adaptive reuse of historic buildings throughout Ashtabula, Lake and Geauga counties. Notable projects include the Historic Hotel Ashtabula; the Historic Mentor Village Mall; the Historic Chardon Port Office; a four-story, 82 room Hampton Inn; AQUA OHIO Operations Center; and Kids College Daycare Center in Ashtabula.

Renew Partners is led by Shawn Neece and Charles Borsukoff. Borsukoff also is chairman of JCI Contractors Inc, the general contractor for Renew’s projects.

“Port bond financing allows us to lock-in a favorable long-term rate, which is the difference in making our project viable,’’ said Neece. “We are very appreciative of the collaboration between the Port, the City of Painesville, and Painesville City Local Schools in making this a reality.”