Sorry, everyone else — the Cleveland Metroparks might have beaten you to activating the lakefront. Last year, Edgewater Park drew 1.2 million people and that number is spiking thanks to a slick 12,000-square-foot, $4.3 million beach house with food and bar service. Coupled with the Thursday happy hour concert series Edgewater Live, which draws nearly 100,000 revelers per season, the two-story beach house elevates the park experience by adding a hip destination. It’s just one building, but it’s a picture of what Clevelanders regularly congregating around a lakefront could look like. Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman takes us on a tour of the new digs.
Making Connections: “The residential density has increased exponentially since the Cleveland Metroparks took over,” Zimmerman says, pointing to the Gordon Square Arts District’s rows of condos. To draw those residents, the second story of the ADA-accessible beach house has a pedestrian bridge that links to the bike- and pedestrian-friendly West 76th Street tunnel. There’s also a bike box to lock up your ride.
See Food: A typical first-floor concession stand gets a boost with a menu that features approximately 75 percent Cuyahoga County purveyors. Savor Honey Hut ice cream, Sophie’s Choice Pierogies and Blue Ribbon Meats burgers, bratwursts, hot dogs and organic chicken. “We really wanted to focus on Cleveland and what makes Cleveland a great food city,” says Jarrod McCarthy, senior manager of enterprise operations. If you mosey upstairs, settle into a couch or armchair by the outdoor fireplace with a hummus plate or chips and salsa from the seasonal bar. For drinks, snag cocktails or wine or opt for a frothy rotating local brew on tap from Fat Head’s Brewery, Brick and Barrel Brewing, Great Lakes Brewing Co. and more.
Square Roots: The name of the Centennial Plaza goes deep. To honor the park system’s 100th anniversary, the event space and picnic area is built with century-old local sandstone. “We tied in stones from well over 100 years ago really trying to connect the past with the future,” Zimmerman says. It serves as a place to make new memories as it plays hosts to acts such as rock band the Frats, who will perform before the main Edgewater Live acts this summer.
Top Choice: The roof of this Bialosky & Partners Architects-designed structure conjures a seaworthy shape angled toward the lake. “It looks like a boat,” says Zimmerman. “It’s designed to look like it’s part of pulling in the community to a waterfront community.”