Photo Taken by buckeyefan20012001 in 2005
Front Street in downtown Cuyahoga Falls was converted into a pedestrian mall in 1978 utilizing urban renewal funds. Photo by: army.arch *Adam* in December 2013
Taken by: Michellespix in 2009
The Akron Beacon Journal June 15, 1978 p 6
By DAVID B. COOPER
Beacon Journal Associate Editor
THE NEW mall in downtown Cuyahoga Falls is a pleasant, gracious place.
It is inviting — and that’s what all downtown public places must be if they are to attract people.
I especially like the new fountain at the mall’s north end. The play of water, cascading over man-made forms, always adds an appealing touch to cities.
The Cuyahoga Falls fountain reminds a wandering pedestrian that the river — so much a part of this area’s history — is but a few feet away. Water falls in sheets, and then sparkles in the sunlight as it splashes on black rocks. There is a feeling of the rich and varied Ohio landscape, and of the importance of water to this area’s early commercial development.
The fountain was designed by Jack Braun, an architect with John David Jones Associates, the firm that designed the whole pedestrian walkway. The mall’s overall effect is tasteful and welcoming, and that is a sign of thoughtful planning. The plaza around the fountain is large enough for some public events, and the red brick walkway through the mall area adds a touch of warmth to the Falls’ downtown.
Wooden benches, tables and stools are grouped conveniently along the downtown walkway. They provide good places to eat a sandwich, have a conversation with a friend, or just sit in the sun on a nice day. Good lighting has also been provided through the mall, and the design of the lamps lends a turn-of-the-century feel to the downtown area.
All of this — pleasant as it is — represents something of a gamble by Cuyahoga Falls and its leadership, notably Mayor Robert Quirk. It is a gamble worth taking, however. Whether our cities are large, medium sized or small, their downtown areas are not going to regain their once-proud vitality and bustle unless we make them appealing for people again.
In Cuyahoga Falls, for example, Mayor Quirk points to the city’s free downtown parking policy as a key aspect of the redevelopment program. The city has pro vided .550 free parking spaces convenient to the mall so far, and has plans to provide 747 more.
“The big secret to success will be to build people into downtown,” Mr. Quirk said this week.
He was encouraged by the completion of the renovation of the Kailstrom Building, near the downtown Post Office. The building will hquse about 200 people employed by the Kailstrom Realty Co., which relocated as a result of the overall development plans.
Other plans are in the works, including those of Jonas Barenholtz, a successful developer in this area. These plans include new apartment buildings, new restaurants, shops, and a three-story medical building.
By itself, the mall — which was recently completed — has not transformed downtown Cuyahoga Falls into a place teeming with busy shoppers and office workers. A number of fine old buildings are still vacant; some stores aren’t open for full, normal shopping hours. The movie theater is still closed, and the mayor is hoping there may be a way to acquire it and get it reopened.
Not all the merchants who remain are enthusiastic about the new mall. For example, a hand-lettered sign in the window of a dingy newsstand on the mall says, complete with misspelling, “‘Think Positive an Go Broke!*’
Without such sprucing up, however, it is hard to see how downtown Cuyahoga Falls could ever be revived. The nearby river is an asset for the city’s downtown, and the land between the current stores and offices along the mall and the river could be developed nicely to take advantage of the scenery.
With further planning care, some risk capital, and the kind of architectural verve shown thus far, the Falls’ downtown area could thrive once again.
The mall, with its kiosks, walkways, and flowers and trees, is a fine place to visit. It is the kind of project that ought to make downtown attractive to people again.