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Issue Date: December 2012


The Flats

In 1996, Cleveland was on a roll and the riverfront — particularly Shooters on the Water — was the place to revel during the city's bicentennial. The Flats' heyday has been over for more than a decade now. But this spring, the East Bank of the Flats will begin to re-emerge as a new waterfront neighborhood.
Interviews by Colleen Smitek

 Roger Loecy, owner of Shooters on the Water: It was the bicentennial, so it was steady from the morning on. What I remember the most was the fireworks. They shot them off from both sides of the Flats, and they crossed in the river. It was just stunning. It was the best fireworks I've ever seen.

The Cleveland Orchestra was playing at Nautica Pavilion. They were facing the other side of the river and had all the speakers aiming toward us. It was solid people, just solid — 20,000, maybe 30,000 people. I've never seen anything like it.

I was working, but I also had my boat down there — back then it was a 60-foot Sea Ray named Shooters.

There were 5,000, 6,000 people on our decks. It was a beautiful night. They were dancing and having a great time. We had 60 bartenders working each shift.

Because the fireworks went off late, the families pretty much hung around till 10 or 11 o'clock. That was a big family weekend.

By the time everybody left and all the traffic let out, it had to be 3 or 4 a.m. I slept on the boat that night.

 Scott Wolstein, Developer: The Flats was a lot of fun, but it didn't have staying power. Entertainment districts that do nothing but entertain usually fail. What you really need is people living there and working there. Not just people coming there to get drunk.

This spring, Ernst & Young will move its 1,200 local employees to the top six floors of our new tower, the Aloft Hotel will open with 150 rooms, and five restaurants will open • In spring 2014, we anticipate finishing construction on 200 apartments, an outdoor concert venue, a city beach, a 3-acre park and at least 10 more restaurants with huge outdoor patios and rooftop decks.

It's become a labor of love for my mother and me. The day my father passed away, she decided everything she did would be to fulfill his vision of making a difference in downtown Cleveland.

What we have today is much, much greater than anything my dad had anticipated, and it's just the start. We've spent $281 million on the first phase and it's only 3 acres out of 24. People ask if the Flats can ever be as good as it used to be. If it isn't much better, we've failed.


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