Dominion – 19th Annual Community Impact Awards

LAND studio receives Dominion East Ohio’s Community Impact Award for Perk Park transformation

4/8/2014, 4:32 p.m.

Cleveland, Ohio (April 7, 2014) – Ralph J. Perk Plaza was awarded one of the thirteen 19th Annual Community Impact Awards from Dominion East Ohio and co-sponsor Inside Business Magazine. Each year, Dominion East Ohio and Inside Business acknowledge nonprofits that have been driven to make Northeast Ohio communities better places to live, work and play. Winners include MOCA Cleveland, Slavic Village Development, Gordon Square Arts District, and many others.

From revitalizing dismantled neighborhoods into centers for art, culture and entertainment to preserving an untouched stretch of land for outdoor activities of all sorts, this year’s winners exemplify the region’s creativeness, inventiveness, and potential.

Funding for the awards comes from the Dominion Foundation, which is dedicated to the economic, physical, and social health of the communities served by Dominion companies.

Ralph J. Perk Plaza, commonly known as Perk Park, is located on East 12th Street and Chester Avenue in downtown Cleveland. While popular for many years, the park’s formerly sunken design and lack of consistent maintenance eventually led to its becoming an underused and unsafe space.

LAND studio, a Cleveland-based nonprofit focusing on public spaces, took primary responsibility for the Perk Park redevelopment process. LAND studio engaged a nationally recognized landscape architect, Thomas Balsely Associates of New York, to redesign the park. As project managers, LAND studio handled everything from fundraising and the bid process to finding and hiring the right contractors and artists for the pre-construction, construction, and design activities.

Balsely’s design brought the park up to street level to provide the sense of safety that was critical to the park once again becoming an active public place.

The grid of light wands and striking geometry makes for a compelling urban dialogue within which visitors can enjoy the lawn, public art, red resin trellis, plantings, garden beds, and custom-designed furniture.

The successful programming of the park is one key component to its success. Downtown Cleveland Alliance organizes the space for their highly successful “Walnut Wednesdays,” a lunch-hour event that attracts 1,000 – 1,500 Clevelanders weekly with live music and an array of local food trucks.

The revitalization of Perk Park has impacted thousands of residents and workers in close proximity to the park, and throughout downtown Cleveland.

Perk Park is a living case study, an example of what can happen when public space is used to spur economic investment. The success of Perk Park has made it easier to make the case for looking at a broader district – Public Square, the Mall, and the key connector streets between – as a system that must be considered a whole.