Jul 18, 2023 - News

Nightly light shows eyed for Public Square

A light display projects multicolored daisies on an old stone church at night.

"Supercharged projectors" light up the Old Stone Church in a demonstration last week. Photo: Sam Allard/Axios

The rotating lights atop Terminal Tower have for years lit up the Cleveland sky to signal special occasions.

Yes, but: Tower City's lights could become small potatoes by next year if a new downtown lighting project is as big and bold as its proponents advertise.

Driving the news: Destination Cleveland last week held a demonstration to pitch "Illuminate Cle," a $7 million lighting extravaganza on Public Square and along Euclid Avenue that would light up downtown every night.

Details: The project would include the installation of high-powered spotlights and "supercharged projectors" on poles and rooftop fixtures to create color washes and aerial effects across the downtown terrain.

  • Projected slides could be scaled and customized with patterns and text to reflect Cleveland's "brand, story and identity," said Alex Harnocz, Destination Cleveland's director of destination development.

What they're saying: "Ultimately, we will treat Public Square like a stage, and the buildings around it like a backdrop to that stage, extending the color, light, motion and patterns onto the historic facades that surround us," Harnocz said.

Between the windows: The lighting installations, designed by Solon-based Vincent Lighting Systems in partnership with Oswald Engineering, features technology that avoids "sensitive areas."

  • Harnocz said the lights wouldn't be blasting into residential windows in the vicinity.

By the numbers: The demonstration was both a test of the technology's capabilities and a pitch to potential investors. Destination Cleveland is contributing more than $3 million, and the City of Cleveland has set aside $1 million in federal stimulus dollars for the project.

  • Destination Cleveland is actively fundraising the rest.
  • Without specifying dollar amounts, Destination Cleveland CEO David Gilbert announced recent "significant gifts" from KeyBank, PNC Bank, Cleveland Foundation and the KJK Law Firm.

Threat level: Mayor Justin Bibb delivered brief remarks at the demonstration, touting the benefits of Illuminate Cle not only as entertainment and beautification for visitors and residents, but also as a safety measure.

  • "We know that lighting goes a long way to keeping our city safe," he said.

What's next: Construction on the Public Square installation is expected to begin in the fall, with the goal of nightly programming arriving in the first half of 2024.


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