At LakewoodAlive, we believe that well-planned and designed community improvements enrich the quality of life for all. Our work in partnership with the City of Lakewood on phase 2 of the Warren Road Beautification project refreshed the gateway into Lakewood’s commercial districts.
We worked to blend the beauty of public art with the importance and necessity of experience improvements for bike riders, pedestrians and bus riders alike. When residents and visitors explore the corners of Warren and Madison Avenues, they are greeted by a fresh and welcoming streetscape with public art, trees, bike racks and a transit waiting environment.
LakewoodAlive’s Warren Road Beautification Project was the result of city leaders, civic-minded residents, local governments, and small businesses coming together for the sake of community vibrancy. “We are thrilled to have completed phase 2 of the Warren Road Beautification Project,” said LakewoodAlive Executive Director Ian Andrews. “Since planning began back in 2015, we have leveraged county funding with city and RTA support to enhance a sense of place on Warren Road from Detroit to Madison while supporting two thriving commercial corridors. It’s our hope that this investment in public art, connectedness and beauty brings a smile to the community during a time when we all could use something to smile about.”
Thanks to a $50,000 Community Development Supplemental Grant from Cuyahoga County and a partnership with the City of Lakewood, phase 2 of the Warren Road Beautification Project features an improved pedestrian environment and significant public art components. Phase 1 brought improvements to the intersection of Warren Road and Detroit Avenue.
The prominent intersection at Warren and Madison now incorporates two public art murals, an artistic bus shelter, new crosswalks, 15 new trees, eight bike racks and two artistically-wrapped traffic signal boxes. What started in 2018 as a conceptual vision is now a vibrant reality accessible for all Lakewoodites and visitors to enjoy.
This project would not be possible without collaboration with many terrific partners, including the City of Lakewood, Cuyahoga County, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, local artists April Bleakney and Stephanie Crossen, Fifth Third Bank, The Doughnut Pantry, Scherba Industries and LakewoodAlive’s tremendous volunteer Design Committee, chaired by Rob Donaldson.
Public Art Centerpieces
Two new art murals serve as the centerpiece of this project. Talented local artists April Bleakney and Stephanie Crossen were chosen to create this public art following a competitive selection process that started last August with a request for proposals.
April’s mural depicting an antlered deer with a colorful background was inspired by an encounter she had with a deer while in Yosemite National Park, and came to appreciate the peacefulness this animal symbolizes.
“The deer not only is native to Northeast Ohio, but is native to all continents except Australia and Antarctica,” said April. “In researching qualities the deer represents over time and across cultures, you find: firm but gentle, serene and peaceful in times of stress, strong and brave when necessary, highly aware and instinctual. They are a symbol of kindness even during the most challenging times and are often seen as messengers of change.”
Stephanie’s mural featuring a 54-foot-long sunset (or sunrise, depending on your interpretation) on the western wall of The Doughnut Pantry was inspired by the stunning sunsets she’s witnessed at The Solstice Steps and wanted to offer community members an eternal sunshine to bring joy on cloudy days.
“I’ve lived in Lakewood for 10 years and I love it here,” said Stephanie. “I wanted to create an abstract image of the summer sun on beautiful Lake Erie that could be interpreted as either rising or setting. The fact that people stand and applaud a sunset at The Solstice Steps really exemplifies what a wonderful community this is. But since this mural is located on The Doughnut Pantry, perceiving it as a sunrise also feels appropriate.”
Work on phase 2 of the Warren Road Beautification Project began in earnest shortly after phase 1 of the project at the intersection of Warren and Detroit wrapped up during summer of 2018. Months of planning and collaboration with partners paid off with the awarding of a county grant focused on improving the Warren-Madison intersection.
Phase 2 of the project kicked off last November with the planting of 15 broad-leafed trees at a variety of locations throughout the intersection. Following a slow-to-end winter that saw snow into May, the project continued with the installation of both public art murals in late May and early June. Scherba Industries completed both installations using a sophisticated, digitally-printed wall wrap technique.
A sleek new bus shelter soon followed, with installation taking place in mid-July at the northwest corner of Warren and Madison near Fifth Third Bank. April Bleakney designed this shelter wrap to complement her nearby deer-themed public art mural. Lakewood’s newest bus shelter – the product of a partnership with the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority – features night-time illumination made possible by solar cells on the roof.
The final steps of this project included the addition of bike racks and two artistically-wrapped traffic signal boxes with artwork by Stephanie Crossen that were installed in November.
Envisioned as a three-phase project starting in 2016, LakewoodAlive will work with the City, County and neighborhood stakeholders on Phase 3, focusing on the Warren Road and Lakewood Heights Boulevard intersection in the coming years.
LakewoodAlive is a community-centered nonprofit organization striving to foster and sustain vibrant neighborhoods in Lakewood. For more information regarding phase 2 of the Warren Road Beautification Project, please contact LakewoodAlive at 216-521-0655.