First phase of Cedar Taylor streetscape improvements is installed
The Cedar Taylor Business District has a fresh new look, thanks to the Cedar Taylor Development Association (CTDA), the vision of a handful of local creative professionals, and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding from the City of Cleveland Heights.
Colorful new street banners, modern benches, and eclectic bike racks now grace the intersection of Cedar and Taylor roads and the adjacent blocks on the western side of South Taylor Road.
CTDA began planning for streetscape improvements in 2013. "Over the past two years, we've been awarded $21,000 from Cleveland Heights CDBG funds, and separately we've raised $6,000, for a total of $27,000 spent to this point,” said Kevin Smith, president of CTDA's board of directors. “We've applied for next year's allotment of CDBG funds and continue to raise money from other sources."
The group engaged urban designer and project manager Michelle Bandy-Zalatoris to develop the initial streetscape study. Bandy-Zalatoris, a Cleveland Heights resident who lives near the business district, presented a set of preliminary concepts to neighborhood stakeholders in March 2015. Her plan explored a range of topics, including traffic pattern changes, parking and the new streetscape improvements.
“We have been focusing on things that will have an immediate and visible impact. We want to create a place that is unique and identifiable, while celebrating and supporting the wonderful local businesses that are here,” said Bandy-Zalatoris. “The hope is to continue to layer on neighborhood improvements of all sorts in a way that allows the district to evolve.”
The first phase of implementing the plan began in late June with the installation of district signage to help strengthen the area’s identity. The new banners—and the logotype used in them as well as the bike racks—were designed by Cleveland Heights resident Michelle Moehler, owner of Michelle Moehler Design, a graphic design firm. “This is our brand identifier and helps to convey the energy and flavor of the neighborhood,” explained Moehler.
By branding the commercial district, much like the Cedar Lee, Coventry Village, and Cedar Fairmount business districts have done, businesses can be more easily located.
Each banner is unique and features an action word that represents a service provided in the district—shop, eat, style, play, live, grow, care, fix, create. Each was strategically placed to promote a different business. The banners, printed by Carroll Graphics, a Cleveland firm, help to communicate the diverse range of services provided in the area. Planners believe that improving the visual appeal of the district will support existing merchants and help attract new ones.
In August, composite wood and metal benches and custom-made bike racks were installed. The orange bike racks, an amalgamated shape of the words “Cedar” and “Taylor,” were constructed by Rust Belt Welding—a business that fabricates unique bike racks, including one outside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. The intention is to encourage bike traffic to the commercial district, as limited parking has been identified as a challenge.
An initial study conducted by CTDA surveyed the neighborhood’s business owners. Of the 17 businesses that responded, the majority have been in the district for 10 or more years, and anticipate staying for the foreseeable future. These businesses report that approximately 7,000 customers frequent their establishments on a weekly basis.
The goal for next year, said CTDA representatives, is to add more planters, bike racks and holiday lighting, as well as to incorporate public art.
Designs were originally developed for both sides of the street. “We'd very much like to extend the improvements to the University Heights side of our business district. Unfortunately, at this time, the City of University Heights has declined to allow any installations in their city,” said Smith. “We are hoping they will reconsider so that we can incorporate some of these fantastic elements in that city at a future point,” he added.
Because of its population size, the City of University Heights is not designated as a CDBG entitlement community. As such, it is only eligible for CDBG funds from the county, not directly from the federal government, which Cleveland Heights is eligible to receive.
For more information on CTDA, visit its Facebook page: www.facebook.com/cedartaylordevelopmentassociation. CTDA's next meeting will be held at Melt Bar & Grilled, 13463 Cedar Road, on Oct. 5, at 9 a.m. Neighborhood merchants are invited to attend, as is the general public.
Andrea C. Turner
Andrea C. Turner is the Heights Observer e-news editor.