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THE GOLD STANDARD IN OHIO'S NEIGHBORHOODS, PUBLIC SPACES AND COMMERCIAL DISTRICTS

This biennial awards program honors outstanding physical spaces that planners have made permanent through careful planning and unbridled imagination in Ohio. 8 places have been celebrated since 2018 across three categories.

Learn about the planning story behind each place below.

 

 

 

2022 Great Places in Ohio Awards Program

Now accepting nominations through July 1, 2022.

Nominate Here

 

 

Commercial Districts

delaware

 

 

 

 

 


Downtown Delaware, Delaware

The city of Delaware is a growing community of 40,000 people 25 miles north of Columbus. It celebrates the historical context of the community by integrating its past into current and future success. This 210-year-old dynamic downtown has leveraged private investments to benefit the public realm since 1856. The vibrancy of this commercial district is a result of planning efforts to update historic façades, implement streetscape improvements, install wayfinding signage and preserve the century-old Strand Theater.

 

bridge street

 

 

 

 

 


Bridge Street, Ashtabula

The Port of Ashtabula has played a vital role in the northeast Ohio shipping industry for centuries. Shifting world economies and introduction of technology that allowed faster and cheaper loading and unloading of cargo kept the port a critical link in the north coast shipping industry. Decline in the economy after the recession spurred the community into action, especially when ODOT closed the lift bridge for repairs lasting nearly a year. By embracing its history and invigorating local involvement through festivals and community pride, this near victim of the rust belt economy is now thriving.

Gpo 2020 Cuyahoga Falls

Downtown Cuyahoga Falls, Cuyahoga Falls

Settled along the adjacent Cuyahoga River in 1812, Downtown Cuyahoga Falls grew into a successful business district that supported a growing community. However, with suburbanization and the change of its main street into a pedestrian mall in the 1970s, the importance of Downtown Cuyahoga Falls was inadvertently tarnished. In 2018 the City reestablished the Downtown’s importance and sense of place by reopening Front Street to vehicular traffic and embracing historic preservation. The Downtown is attracting new culinary, microbrewery, and retail businesses, complimenting it’s thriving public event spaces.

 

 

 

Public Spaces

wade oval

 

 

 

 




Wade Oval, University Circle, Cleveland

Wade Oval is a seven-acre park that dates back to 1874, when pioneer Newell Cozad spent $60,000 of his own money to lay the groundwork for a park. Cozad’s concept was advanced when philanthropist Jeptha Wade, co-founder of the Western-Union telegraph company, donated the land to the City of Cleveland in 1882. Over the next 80 years, the parkland became the front lawn to Cleveland’s Museum of Art, History Center, Museum of Natural History and Botanical Garden. Now, Wade Oval is a gathering place for music, play and picnicking for thousands in the midst of the cultural temples of Cleveland.

 

wildwood

 

 

 

 

 


Wildwood Metropark, Toledo

Surrounded by suburban development, Wildwood is an oasis balancing rich natural areas with historical, cultural and recreational opportunities. The 493-acre park exists because of a grass roots effort to preserve the estate of Champion Sparkplug magnate Robert Stranahan. Once private bridle trails are now public hiking trails, attracting over a million visitors every year to explore the surrounding prairie lands. The property also boasts a formal garden designed by Ellen Biddle Shipman, hailed as the "dean of American women landscape architects." The garden at Wildwood is one of only four of her 600+ gardens that retain their original integrity.  

Gpo 2020 Toledo

Promenade Park, Toledo

Located on the Maumee River, Promenade Park has been considered the heart of Downtown Toledo since it was established through the vision of a local activist – Betty Mauk – in 1972. Ms. Mauk’s vision grew from a small parcel to an expansive riverfront promenade. Unfortunately, like many cities, disinvestment in the surrounding Downtown also effected the park. But spurred by ProMedica deciding to relocate their headquarters and over 1,000 employees to the adjacent riverfront, significant effort went into planning a modern district while maintaining the early vision of Promenade Park. The park continues to host the city’s largest events, including the ProMedica Summer Concert Series that draws 10,000 people Downtown. While an event lawn and LED screen are the setting for family movie nights, local sports viewing, and community events like yoga.

 

 

Gpo 2020 Oyler

Oyler Community Learning Center, Cincinnati

Built as a school in the 1930s, by the early 2000s the Oyler School was failing, with 85% of its students never making it to 10th grade. After extensive community engagement and lobbying to Cincinnati Public Schools and beyond, in 2012 the Oyler Community Learning Center was formed through funding by the Facilities Master Plan a tax levy and philanthropic resources. Not only did this expand the school to a high school, but a hub for the whole community. The Oyler Community Learning Center model provides a myriad of services to students and community members alike, such as early childhood education; mental health, primary, vision, and dental services; case management services to help parents navigate resources such as housing, employment and food security; as well as mentorships and tutoring - while becoming a catalyst for the holistic revitalization of the community. Since its transformation, the Lower Price Neighborhood has graduated more students in the last 7 years than in its entire 90-year recorded history, with an estimated 97% graduation rate in 2019-2020.

 

Residential Neighborhoods

Gpo 2020 Springfield

South Fountain, Springfield

The residents of Springfield’s historic South Fountain Neighborhood, situated immediately south of downtown, have worked hard for over 20 years to rehabilitate the Victorian homes at the core of the neighborhood. But they realized the health of the historic district was inextricably linked to that of the surrounding communities that were still struggling.While residents knew the issues facing their historic neighborhood, they realized the city needed a strong vision for the larger, surrounding community. With the help of the City’s head planner, residents were able to convince public and private city leaders that despite challenging economic hardships facing the local government, community engagement that builds a sense of trust and planning is, in fact, a basic city service. Working together, South Fountain’s Engaged Neighborhood Plan was developed, and includes 40 initiatives across 5 topics areas (physical improvements – government policy changes – private financing – marketing and branding – and civic infrastructure and implementation) and has become a model already being deployed in the adjacent community.

   

 

 

NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED WINNERS

Some Ohio great places have already been recognized at the national level by APA as part of the Great Places in America program. They are automatically added to our collection.

The APA Great Places in America program ran from 2007-2019.

 
Cincinnati
Findlay Market (2016)
Hyde Park (2010)
Over-the-Rhine (2017)
 
Cleveland
Public Square (2018)
West Side Market (2008)
 
Cleveland/Shaker Heights/Beachwood
Shaker Boulevard (2012)
 
Columbus
German Village (2011)
Short North Arts District (2019)
 
Dayton
Fifth Street (2015)
 
Delaware
Historic Downtown Delaware (2019)

 

Hamilton
RiversEdge at Marcum Park (2018)
 
Mariemont
Village of Mariemont (2008)

 

 

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