CH City Hall and developer part ways on "Top of the Hill" project
The City of Cleveland Heights and Fairmount Properties — the private company that had been selected to develop the "Top of the Hill" site — announced on May 11 they had discontinued negotiations on the project. It was originally hoped construction of the multi-use project, located on the vacant lot at the intersection of Cedar Road and Euclid Heights Blvd., would begin in 2018.
But with this news, City Hall is back at square one, seeking a developer for the site.
Construction supplies currently located on the site are for an unrelated gas-line replacement project taking place this summer in the Cedar-Fairmount district.
Following is the full text of a letter announcing the decision. It was released jointly by the city's government and Fairmount Properties. Here's a link to the letter where it appears on the Cleveland Heights website.
The City of Cleveland Heights announced today that negotiations with Cleveland-based Fairmount Properties to create a mixed use development at the Top of the Hill site have been mutually discontinued. The Top of the Hill Project refers to the approximately four acres of City-owned property at the corner of Cedar Road and Euclid Heights Boulevard at the top of Cedar Hill. As a highly visible property at the gateway between the Heights and University Circle, developing this property has been a long-time goal of the City. The project called for apartments, townhomes, retail and restaurant space, as well as office uses and a hotel.
Notwithstanding considerable efforts, the City and Fairmount Properties were unable to come to agreement on key terms within a memorandum of understanding that was expected to lead to a development agreement for the site.
"We found City Council, the City Manager and staff, to be exceptionally professional and supportive of our efforts," said Randy Ruttenberg, principal at Fairmount Properties. "Our inability to come to agreement is not at all a reflection of the partnership we've built with Cleveland Heights. It was a true collaboration and we would welcome working with them again in the future. More importantly, this decision doesn't mean that this project won't be a huge success for a future partner that undertakes this exciting initiative. We found there to be a real supply deficit for the exact type of tenants and use groups including a hotel, for sale residential and high end apartments the city of Cleveland Heights is hoping to recruit to this highly coveted site. We wish the city great success as they move forward."
The City issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) last April and after a thorough selection process chose Fairmount Properties over Indianapolis-based Flaherty & Collins to begin negotiations in October 2016. "Fairmount Properties has an excellent track record of transformative projects in our region and throughout the country and we were excited to partner with them on the Top of the Hill Project," said Mayor Cheryl Stephens. "The negotiations were open and collaborative but unfortunately we were not able to agree on terms that were important to both sides on this project. We would certainly be open to working with Fairmount on future projects."
The City Council is still firmly committed to the development of Top of the Hill and is expected to decide on next steps at next week's City Council meeting.
Cleveland Heights resident Bob Rosenbaum is co-chairman of the Heights Observer Advisory Committee, and is responsible for its advertising sales and market development.