Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Details Harbor Expansion Plans

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame gave Cleveland City Council an initial look Wednesday at the museum’s $35 million plans to build an expansion along the North Coast Harbor, connecting the building with the Great Lakes Science Center.

The 50,000-square-foot expansion would sweep between the Rock Hall and science center in a low arc, offering new spaces for exhibits, classrooms and performances.

“We are bursting at the seams,” Vice President for Finance Tim Offtermatt told council’s transportation committee. “We have really run out of space for new exhibits, for employees and even for visitors.”

The project won’t obstruct views of Lake Erie, he said, and the Rock Hall does not plan to ask the city for money. Offtermatt showed council conceptual drawings of the proposal.

The Rock Hall has considered such a connection to the science center since its inception. Offtermatt showed council one design by architect Robert Madison dating to the 1990s.

Architectural rendering of Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame expansion dating to the 1990s.

The Rock Hall shared this 1990s expansion design by Robert Madison with city council. [Cleveland City Council]

“I think the museum had a few years where they just didn’t have the resources to think about expanding,” Rock Hall CEO Greg Harris told ideasteam this week. Now, he said, the museum is in a financial position to take on the project.

A fundraising campaign in recent years brought in about $57.5 million to expand Rock Hall programs, admit Cleveland residents free and renovate the campus, according to the presentation given to council.

While the expansion cost is estimated at $30 million to $35 million, Offtermatt said the project doesn’t have a budget yet. He said the Rock Hall is looking to launch a second round of fundraising if council grants the museum access to the land.

Cumberland Development currently holds the rights to build on the city-owned property between the two museums. The land was part of the company’s broader ambitions for housing, retail and offices along the lakefront.

The ordinance now before city council would transfer those rights to the Rock Hall. The Rock Hall would pay $2 million in the form of infrastructure investments and contributions for maintenance at North Coast Harbor, city economic development director David Ebersole told council.

Harris told ideasteam that the expansion does not depend on whether the city builds a long-discussed pedestrian bridge to the harbor.

“All the work that we’re contemplating down here at the lakefront is not impacted by if the bridge gets built or doesn’t get built,” Harris said. “We’re making sure our design fits in either way.”

Councilman Kevin Conwell urged the Rock Hall to book more African-American and Latino musicians for its live shows. Oftermatt said the museum would expend “maximum effort” to ensure a diverse lineup of performers.

Read a summary of the deal here.

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