Saturday, July 9, 2011
Chalk protest aims to save Columbia Building from casino
The Columbia Building may face a death sentence, but several artistic activists brought new life to it last night. They covered the sidewalk on Prospect Avenue with chalk designs and messages protesting Dan Gilbert's plan to demolish the 103-year-old building to make way for casino parking.
The protest was billed as an "art attack," but it was as peaceful as can be, filling the concrete with color.
"Downtown Cleveland belongs to all of us," read a flyer from the group Save Lower Prospect Avenue. "Its skyline is our calling card to the world and is central to our identity." It urged Clevelanders to call to write Mayor Frank Jackson and Councilman Joe Cimperman, and tweet casino owner Dan Gilbert's @cavsdan Twitter feed with the message "DowntownIsOurTown."
A reprieve for the Columbia is unlikely. City council and the mayor support Gilbert's casino parking plan, and the city's Landmarks Commission voted 4-3 last month to allow the Columbia to be torn down. Still, the art event reminded Clevelanders of the value of downtown's historic character. "If we can't save this one, maybe we can save the next one," a chalk-protester said.
See the Plain Dealer's coverage here.
Update, 7/22: Demolition started this week. This guy captured the scene in a video on YouTube.