CLEVELAND -- It was a public hearing for architects desigining the new Convention Center Hotel to hear what the people want in the project.
Of course, a hearing at 1:30 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon might not be the best time to get a big crowd.
But almost 100 people jammed into a room downtown in the Louis Stokes Building of the Cleveland Public library to listen, learn and speak up about the project.
The Atlanta firm of Cooper Carry Architects is already on board as the project's designer.
The firm's Pope Bullock said, "We come with hat in hand and without any preconceived notions to listen."
And they got an earful of concerns and ideas.
Audience members expressed concerns that the project fit with classic government buildings around it, bring more activity to the nearby malls, express Cleveland's new spirit and optimism, connect to the lakefront, be a model of sustainability, have a rooftop bar, reflect Cleveland's diversity and be inviting both to global visitors and local residents.
Whew! A tall order to do it all.
Former Shaker Heights Mayor Judy Rawson said, "I would be disappointed if it was grand and iconic and there is not something surprising about it."
Architect Steve Kordalsic said, "I would like a compelling kind of project. I think we set the bar way too low on recently completed public projects."
Concerned citizen George Lovejoy said, "It should have glass, some color, it should be outside-the-box design."
Others wanted an eye-catching addition to Cleveland's skyline that would show up on cityscape shots during sports events.
The project was just announced in May by Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald and Mayor Frank Jackson.
It's moving on a super-fast track by Cleveland standards for public buildings.
It will cost about $230 million and have about 650 rooms in around 19 stories.
It's going on the site of the present county headquarters building at Ontario and Lakeside avenues, next to the new Convention Center.
Employees must move to a temporary home before their new headquarters at East Ninth Street and Prospect Avenue gets done to allow for demolition and asbestos removal before year's end.
Hotel construction should start in the spring with a 2016 completion date.
Six would-be hotel operating firms were in town this week making their pitch.
Cooper Carry was picked from 17 competing architectural firms.
The goal is to pick an operator and construction project supervising firm this fall to get all key players working together.
There's incentive to keep the project moving, keeping the pricetag down.
Interest rates on bonds are going up and so are construction costs.
The county is also working on agreements with the city and Port Authority to help make the project happen on time.
A 2016 opening would be in time for a political convention, if the city seeks and lands one.
There will be another public meeting once Cooper Carry digests the suggestions made Thursday and starts incorporating them into a design.