Great Lakes Revitalization Q&A with Peter F. Spittler

Peter F. Spittler has devoted his professional career to the areas of creative and sustainable development planning. Today we talk to Peter F. Spittler about the Flats revitalization project along Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River.

Q: We hear the term “brownfields” occasionally. What does “brownfields” mean?

Peter F. Spittler: Brownfields are industrial urban zones that are marked by abandoned factories, warehouses, old rail yards and unproductive industrial properties. They often have problems with pervasive contamination from former industrial uses.

Q: I guess that Northern Ohio and the Lake Erie area would have a lot of brownfields, then…

Peter F. Spittler: Yes, that region is a big part of the Rust Belt.

Q: So, tell us about the Flats area in Cleveland…

Peter F. Spittler: For decades, the Flats waterfront was an industrial area, but from the 1950s on it started to decline. Famously, the Cuyahoga River was so polluted that it caught fire more than once. By the 1980s, it was starting to turn around, with bars and nightclubs starting to appear and continued through the 1990’s.

Q: Where does The Flats stand now?

Peter F. Spittler: Now, Phase 1 of its rebirth in nearing completion, with Aloft 150-room hotel, an 500,000 sf office building, and several new restaurants, nightclubs, boardwalk and riverfront park.

Q: Isn’t the Greater Cleveland Aquarium there?

Peter F. Spittler: The Greater Cleveland Aquarium is located on the west bank of the Cuyahoga River and visible from the Flats East Bank. It is a repurposing of a power plant along the river, one that was built in the early 20th century.

Q: What’s the long-term vision for The Flats?

Peter F. Spittler: What we’re thinking long-term is mixed-use, with retail, residential, offices, hotels, entertainment and public access along the river.

Q: What sorts of features are you shooting for in new construction?

Peter F. Spittler: It was important to us to use sustainable building techniques and green practices whenever possible. We also are trying to incorporate room to grow and expand; this will be a long-term project for the city.

Q: Is public funding part of the picture?

Peter F. Spittler: Absolutely, Phase 1 was 275 million and included about half local, state and federal money in financing. We see it as an investment in the future of Cleveland and so did the various public agencies.

Prior to his time at FORUM Architectural Services and GSI Inc., Peter F. Spittler served as senior project manager for The Austin Company and Figgie International. The professional career of Peter F. Spittler has taken him overseas as a consultant for American healthcare companies. In addition, Peter F. Spittler spent time on the ground in Eastern Europe, exploring investment opportunities after the fall of Communist regimes. Peter F. Spittler is a graduate of Kent State University’s school of architecture.



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