Severance Town Center is ready for challenges to perception and reinvention
Severance Town Center has received attention recently as the current home of the Walmart that will be moving to the Oakwood Commons development in South Euclid. For those living or working near the center, this increased attention can present a challenge if people begin to think that the departure of a major tenant represents a turning point in how the center will be maintained.
Howard Thompson, economic development director for the City of Cleveland Heights, noted, “Many people have been taking shots at Severance and voicing their opinions online and in editorials. I can say one thing and that is we know that the owners of the center are working to meet the challenge and possible opportunity for future development at Severance Town Center.”
George Witherspoon, a nearby resident, recently expressed concern about the condition of the elevator area next to the theater. “I sometimes walk around the complex. One thing that is very disturbing is the condition of the elevator located next to the theaters. It is like a tooth. Once left to decay, it will start to infect the rest of the center,” he said. “Whoever is in charge of the total center must be made to understand that you must maintain the total complex.”
Pete Radanovich, operations manager for Severance Town Center, understands this well. “Anything that comes to the office is dealt with personally by me. We don’t often get complaints. When we do, those complaints are then assigned to the maintenance team leader. We recently had a few complaints about the elevator, which were corrected immediately."
Witherspoon noted how quickly Severance’s staff addressed his concern. “I did see them working on that area today, and I noticed they were sweeping it yesterday as I passed,” he said.
“Severance Town Center can harness the considerable amount of attention that it is receiving to reinvent and reestablish itself once again as the benchmark of retail mixed-use development,” said Thompson.
Severance Town Center was Ohio’s first indoor shopping center when it was developed in the 1960s. It has been remodeled several times, including its transformation to a power center—a term used by International Council of Shopping Centers to describe a retail center dominated by more than 75–90 percent large anchor stores—in the 1990s.
Chris Hanson is a senior in the Urban Studies program at Cleveland State University and an intern at FutureHeights.