All week, the Case Western Reserve University campus has been celebrating Homecoming, and this weekend is bringing alumni as well as families of present students to Cleveland.
But right down the street from our campus celebrations, there is even more to explore. On Thursday, the Blue Block Party offered the opportunity to check out all the new living space, retail stores, and restaurants in the Uptown development.
The Uptown project has been in the works for a few years and finally broke ground in 2011. Since then, sleek contemporary-styled buildings have grown up along Euclid Ave. and were filled quicker than many of us could have imagined.
Now, the Museum of Contemporary Art is nearing completion, with the grand opening less than one week away. This week, the corner of Euclid and Mayfield came together as construction crews and vehicles slowly left the area, revealing a bright and inviting space.
Connecting Uptown proper to the Triangle apartments is a space called Uptown Alley, a pedestrian-only area with access to the new stores and restaurants now housed on Triangle’s street level. Making this area available and safe for pedestrians is a great addition to the street-side entrances to many of Uptown’s current businesses such as Panera Bread and Constantino’s Market, which are already popular among students.
Another new addition to the Uptown area is Toby’s Plaza, a gift from CWRU alumna Toby Devan Lewis, which connects MOCA to Uptown proper. The outdoor plaza was created as public gathering space for Clevelanders to enjoy programming, performances, and site-specific installations.
Toby’s Plaza will fill the need for University Circle visitors to have a gathering space in a public location. CWRU, Cleveland Institute of Art, and Cleveland Institute of Music students have many places to get together on campus, but other Clevelanders visiting our neck of the woods don’t have the same luxury. As great as all the museums in Wade Oval are, they don’t provide a public space where people can meet to collaborate on projects or just hang out.
One of the best results of all the Uptown development will be connecting University Circle and all of its constituents to the greater Cleveland population. By creating spaces readily available for use by both students and members of the Cleveland community, CWRU can become more integrated into the city, making it more than just the university that isn’t Cleveland State.
Integrating CWRU into the greater Cleveland community provides not only more to do for students, but Uptown is an extremely convenient place for students to take their parents for shopping, food, and entertainment. Previously, the closest places to go were Coventry and the Cedar-Fairmount area, neither of which are nearly as close to the center of campus as Uptown.
The many facets of the Uptown project in addition to the new MOCA building will bring more energy into University Circle and provide opportunities for CWRU students to get out and explore our little corner of Cleveland – and we hope they do.