Plans for new 30-story Hilton Convention Center Hotel unveiled, project to change city skyline

CLEVELAND - For the first time in a long time, the skyline of Cleveland will be changing and for the first time, the public was given a glimpse Tuesday of what the newest addition will look like, as architects presented their initial design for the new 30-story Hilton Convention Center Hotel to Cuyahoga County Council.

The $260 million hotel will be built on the site of the soon to be demolished Cuyahoga County Administration Building. It will be owned by the county but operated by Hilton.

"It won't be the tallest building in Cleveland but it will be extremely prominent because of its location," said Project Management Consultant Jeff Appelbaum.

"We have a convention center that's largely underground so you really don't know necessarily that the convention center is there. This becomes sort of the icon for the convention center," he said.

The hotel will feature a four-story base or podium that will feature the hotel's lobby, ballroom and connections to the adjacent convention center. Above will be a 26-story hotel tower that will feature around 600 rooms, all with views of both Lake Erie and the city.

Another two-story meeting place will be featured on the hotel's 25th floor with a terrace overlooking the lake.

Atlanta-based architects at Cooper Carry say they approached the project with reverence.

"It's sacred ground," said Architect Pope Bullock. "Daniel Burnham and the Group Plan, it's one of the most important pieces of urban landscape in America so we approached the site with great respect and care."

What was presented to county council is what's called a schematic design.

"It really shows how the building lays out. It shows the general form of the building. It shows all the important rooms in the building," Appelbaum said, though it's not set in stone.

One example is parking. The designs presented Tuesday called for two levels of below surface parking that would create about 300 spots.

"That parking right now beneath the surface is about $60,000 per space, obviously very expensive to build that parking down there," said Appelbaum, who added they will look at alternate parking solutions but it's nothing that will slow work on the project.

"It's referred to as a bridging design build project. It's a fast track which means we start some elements of the work while we're designing others," he said.

Timing is important if Cleveland decides to make an expected bid for either the Republican or Democratic National Conventions.

"I think you're going to hear something about that whole process in the next few weeks," said Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald.

"It's not just those big political conventions. There's a whole slew of other conventions that we're now going to be competitive with as a result of this hotel," added FitzGerald, who likes what he sees in the initial renderings.

"So far, I think what people see is something that both respects kind of our tradition and traditional architecture but also is going to be kind of a statement of what Cleveland can be like in the 21st century and I think it kind of blends those things and that's what we wanted to see," he said.

Fitzgerald says it is nearly a done deal. It will still need the final approval by the Cuyahoga County Council.


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