Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and Burten Bell Carr announce Agency Landscape + Planning to lead public visioning process.


Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and Burten Bell Carr announce Agency Landscape + Planning to lead public visioning process.

Last year, Shaker Square’s ownership team – the local nonprofits Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and Burten, Bell, Carr Development, Inc. – issued an RFP seeking firms to guide a community visioning process for the future of Shaker Square. They also recruited a steering committee that included resident leaders from the adjacent neighborhoods, civic leaders from institutional partners, representation from the City of Cleveland, and subject-matter experts.


Over the last several months, the steering committee and members of the Shaker Square ownership team reviewed multiple proposals, advanced and interviewed several firms, and finalized the selection of the firm Agency Landscape + Planning to lead this important project.


Agency is a women-owned, small business and certified DBE/WBE practice dedicated to addressing social equity, cultural vitality, and environmental resilience through design excellence, strategic planning, and community engagement. Co-founders Brie Hensold, who grew up in walking distance to Shaker Square, and Gina Ford have worked together for nearly two decades on projects including the planning and design of commercial hearts in Portland, Boston, Raleigh, and Detroit.


“We believe that Shaker Square is a significant landmark broadly and a treasure to those close by,” said Brie Hensold when asked about Agency’s interest in the project. “We believe that a commitment to a sustainable and enduring vision can unlock Shaker Square’s latent potential. The future of Shaker Square must be driven by purpose and consensus. And we believe that this effort needs a visionary, yet realistic roadmap for inclusive success.”


Tania Menesse, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, which led the effort to save Shaker Square by purchasing it before foreclosure, also expressed excitement about engaging the Greater Buckeye community in the future of Shaker Square: “The visioning process will create a blueprint for the future of Shaker Square. Building off the public space planning process from 2018, Agency will ensure that the vision the community has for Shaker Square has a merchandise mix plan that works for the Square and complements Buckeye and Larchmere. It will ensure that the public space lifts up the retail and that the Square presents opportunities for the entire community to find themselves in Shaker Square.”


For this visioning project at Shaker Square, Agency will partner with Cleveland-based urban design and engagement consultancy Seventh Hill and retail leasing and place management experts Streetsense, who also led Downtown Cleveland’s recent retail strategy. Agency’s project manager Allen Penniman brings recent experience implementing retail and neighborhood revitalization strategies in Detroit. Together, this joint partnership is thrilled by the opportunity to support Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and Burten, Bell, Carr Development, Inc., in their efforts to reposition Shaker Square for a long-term, sustainable future. This work speaks to the team’s collective passion for an age of equitable city change, our abilities as a diverse team of experts, our belief in community-driven planning, and our approach to design with grounded and actionable outcomes.

“This visioning process will allow residents, business owners, and other stakeholders an opportunity to engage with each other for the common good of the Shaker Square community and the value the property brings to the neighborhood,” shared Briana Perry, the President of New Village Corporation, which leads the Shaker Square ownership team. “I am most excited to see the engagement and recommendations around a merchandising mix, programming, and youth engagement.”


Joy Johnson, Executive Director of Burten, Bell, Carr Development, Inc., also noted that “This was a rigorous selection process led by a steering committee of community residents and project stakeholders. The visioning project will be the place for everyone to share their thoughts, ideas, suggestions, leads, hopes, and dreams for Shaker Square.” She added, “With Agency, Streetsense, and Seventh Hill, I believe the steering committee has selected the right team to ensure that everyone’s voices are heard.”

The steering committee that selected Agency will continue to be involved throughout the community visioning process, and they will meet with the Agency team regularly to guide the plan and community engagement in it.