The Cuyahoga County committee planning a new jail appears to have settled on a site near downtown Cleveland. They are due to vote on the proposed site, located across the Cuyahoga River east of the Tremont neighborhood at their Tuesday meeting.
If the Justice Center’s Executive Steering Committee, made up of city, county and court system representatives, approves the purchase, the county council will have the final say once the sale price is known.
Members of the steering committee have been meeting since 2019 to plan the future of Cleveland’s aging downtown justice center. In November 2020, they agreed to build a new prison somewhere outside the city center. The future of the courts, the exact size of the prison and how the estimated $550 million price tag will be paid remain unclear.
According to Tuesday’s meeting agenda, the county is expected to purchase two private parcels, totaling approximately 44 acres. One was last sold in 2013 for $537,000 and the other in 2005 for $1.7 million.
Real estate blog, NEOTrans, took a close look at the location six weeks ago in an in-depth blog post, calling it “the best location for the new county jail.”
The land is not far from the old favorite of Slavic Village. Current and former members of the city council and Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Cleveland, which has a nearby branch, all opposed the option. The site was public land but close to residential areas.
Councilman Kerry McCormack represents Ward 3, which includes downtown Cleveland, Tremont, and both the current prison site and the new site. McCormack disputes the argument that a prison negatively impacts the surrounding area and said he supports the new choice.
“It’s important that we develop a much more humane prison that operates much better and more efficiently,” McCormack said. “It’s connected to public transport. It’s closer to the city center. It’s more industrial. I think it’s objectively just a better site.