Steelyard Commons, Cleveland, Ohio

Steelyard Commons, Cleveland, Ohio
Steelyard Commons, Cleveland, Ohio

Steelyard Commons, which opened in 2007, is one of the only sizable planned retail developments within the City of Cleveland in the last decade, and the only one making use of such a unique site.

Steelyard draws its name from the former industrial parcel upon which it is situated, land previously occupied by the massive LTV Steel Finishing Mill No. 2. As a tribute to the many traditional industries that made Cleveland a Midwestern powerhouse — mining, coal, and especially steel — the development’s distinctive architecture makes use of thematic elements and artifacts of the past: high bay buildings of simple form, utilitarian bare steel framing, ribbed metal roofing and siding, corroded steel plate, simple truss and bridge forms, oversize sign lettering and strong colors.

Steelyard Commons nestles within a portion of Cleveland’s ‘Flats’, the low level areas of the Cuyahoga River Valley, beneath the bypassing Jennings Freeway at its intersection with Interstate 71. Within just a few miles of the heart of Cleveland, Steelyard serves a market area that embraces many of the City’s dense innercity ethnic neighborhoods.

Within the more than 1 million square feet of Steelyard Commons are such tenants as Walmart, Home Depot, Target, Best Buy, Marshall’s, Staples, Old Navy, Petco, and Starbucks. Its food offerings include Applebee’s, Chipotle and Burger King, among others. To ameliorate the hard and purely functional character of the former site, the center also incorporates substantial green space, a playground, walking and biking areas, a bus stop, and a significant number of trees. As mementos of the past, the project also displays a salvaged utility bridge, a crane, gas well equipment and an ingot rail car coupled with a future historical visitor center.

An additional feature of Steelyard Commons is the nearly half-mile section of hike & bike path along its property edge, abutting the neighboring remaining railyards. The path is yet one more link in the proposed Towpath Trail, a regional green accessway threaded through Cleveland’s old industrial areas. Though a good civic design idea — as well as a meaningful contribution by the project’s developer — this portion of the trail is drab, straight and unadorned, bounded only by chain link fencing. Steelyard Commons was developed by First Interstate Properties of Lyndhurst, Ohio.

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