Port of Cleveland plans new US Customs facility for cruises
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Port Cleveland is planning to develop a more permanent U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility to process cruise passengers disembarking in the city on Lake Erie.
The Cleveland port is planning to spend $600,000 to develop the facility for an increasing number of Great Lakes cruise passengers, The Plain Dealer reported .
“We’re positioned as well as any port city in the Great Lakes to be a stopover for a wave of ships that are coming into the system,” said William Friedman, president and CEO of the Port of Cleveland.
The port plans to convert the Seamen’s Service building into the new facility, which will offer air conditioning, heat and restrooms.
Port officials for two summers have set up large tents alongside the dock for Customs, but the federal government now requires a more permanent location.
The renovations planned for the new facility are awaiting the federal approval and should be complete by September or October, said Jade Davis, the port’s vice president of external affairs.
Many of the ships docking in Cleveland come from Canadian waters with passengers who need to pass through U.S. Customs. Cleveland’s is expecting as many as 7,500 passengers from mid-May through mid-October, up from 1,500 just two years ago.
Cruise ships currently tie up at the port’s dock, in an industrial area just west of the Cleveland Browns’ stadium.
Friedman said the port eventually may want to move cruise ships to a more tourism-friendly location, possibly as part of a development planned for the lakefront area just north of FirstEnergy stadium. That space is close to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Great Lakes Science Center and could work well for a cruise terminal type of facility, Friedman said.
Dick Pace, whose Cumberland Development firm has already developed part of North Coast Harbor, says plans for eventual development in the area behind the stadium already include a hotel, apartments and retail. He says a cruise terminal could fit in well with those plans, although its “not something that’s going to happen tomorrow.”
Friedman said port officials want to see how cruising in the Great Lakes develops in the next three to five years before considering any additional improvement plans.
Information from: The Plain Dealer, http://www.cleveland.com