Zagara's Marketplace floats expansion plans by neighbors

John Zagara, owner of Zagara’s Marketplace on Lee Road, wants more parking for his customers and better traffic flow in his parking lot.

Zagara held a meeting July 23 at the CH-UH Main Library and presented a plan for easing parking lot congestion at his grocery store. He also received ideas and input from about 25 neighbors in attendance.

Zagara's plan enlarges the loading dock area, moves the auto entrance from Lee Road to East Overlook Road, razes one or two homes adjacent to the property, and shrinks the parcel pickup area.

Mike Madorsky's home abuts the northwest corner of the property. Acknowledging the difficult configuration of the parking and truck area, but questioning the need for more parking spaces, he told Zagara "I look out my window at the parking lot and I rarely see the jam up situation you describe."

Madorsky's wife Elizabeth Stern expressed concern about razing homes to accommodate more parking in a community that values its neighborhoods.

The proposed East Overlook auto entrance received much discussion. There was confusion about how much traffic would spill out onto the residential street and which direction it might go.

East Overlook resident Howard Van Kleef said that residents' negative attitudes of six years ago (when Zagara's was planning its current location) had not changed. He said his neighbors have small children and any increased traffic from an East Overlook entrance would affect quality of life on his street.

There is no doubt Zagara's has been successful at its new location. The store racks up 1,500-1,800 customers on a typical weekday and finds its parking lot jammed on holidays and at peak hours. Golf cart shuttles are used to accommodate the overflow from leased parking at the Rite-Aid offices.

Zagara said there have been many changes in the grocery business in Cleveland in recent years and that he faces fierce competition from independent and corporate stores, alike.

In the end, Zagara agreed to put together a traffic study to more fully justify the need for expansion, and invited residents back to the table when it was completed.

Mayor Ed Kelley recognized Zagara's as an important community asset whose success has resulted in a "good problem." Admitting that not everyone will be happy at the end of the day, the mayor vowed the city would work with Zagara and his neighbors to promote a safe environment for everyone. "John has given me that guarantee," he said.

Sarah Wean is a Cleveland Heights resident.

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Volume 1, Issue 5, Posted 10:05 PM, 07.23.2008