Thornburg Station is a new 70,000 square foot, $15,000,000 mixed use project located at the northwest corner of Canal and Rockside Roads in Valley View, Ohio. The project was designed by Peter vanDijk, FAIA (MIT M. Arch, ‘56) a principal in the firm of vanDijk-Westlake-Reed-Leskosky of Cleveland and developed by Frank Sinito. MIT graduate Patrick Campbell '87 was the consultant and project manager. When both phases are complete, the complex will function as the new town center for the Village of Valley View. The site will also serve as a primary gateway and recreational hub for the northern portion of the new Ohio and Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor. The Ohio Canal and the new Towpath Trail, a magnet for bicyclists, hikers and canoers, cross the site which is bounded on the west by the Cuyahoga River, on the south by the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and on the north and east by low-density commercial development.
Phase One was completed in the spring of 2002 at a cost of $8,000,000. In this first phase, Frank Sinito's existing Lockkeeper's Inn restaurant was relocated to a new 13,000 s.f. 180-seat restaurant on the Cuyahoga river with a covered deck seating 80 facing the river. Phase one also includes a new 26,000 s. f. structure that will house an outfitter and other retail on the first floor, professional offices on the second floor and fifty covered parking spaces in the open garage below. Phase Two will be constructed on the east bank of the Ohio Canal at the site of the old Lockkeeper's Inn. This second phase will include a 125-seat restaurant and another 26,000 s. f. retail/office building. Both phases of the project include large outdoor public plaza areas with unrestricted public access.
Zoning Changes: The project sits on a four-acre parcel bisected by the Canal and the new Towpath Trail at the main crossroads of the Village of Valley View. Given this location, Thornburg Station was the logical site for the new “town center” in a village that never had one. Following numerous meetings and design charettes with various local citizens, elected officials, park personnel and other stakeholders, the existing zoning (which would have only permitted a one-story retail box surrounded by parking) was renegotiated in order to allow zero setbacks along the canalfront, a new footbridge over the Ohio Canal, less parking spaces on site, taller buildings over structured parking, and a much more urban design.
Public Amenities: In exchange for the zoning variances and a small public grant, the developer agreed to provide large public plazas on the canalfronts of the retail buildings; furniture for public use on the plazas; new restrooms available to all users of the towpath; a new historically-inspired footbridge over the canal; landscaping along the entire canalbank area; and bike racks and other amenities for users of the Towpath Trial. A wide variety of Valley View residents and Trail users can use the plaza levels for casual relaxation, outdoor interpretive lectures and excursion rendezvous.
An Engineering Prototype: The project sits within the floodplain and the new Lockkeeper’s Inn is built on piers above the floodway of the Cuyahoga River. The creative site design resulted in a project that is fully compliant with all US Army Corps and FEMA requirements for new construction within riverfront flood zones. Following the project’s completion, other property owners and municipalities in the region have begun to explore more sensitive and creative alternatives for their riverfront sites.