Workshop considers Triangle district's future
More than 50 people gathered at Disciples Christian Church on July 9 to describe, in words and sketches, how the Triangle district could be revitalized. The business district, sometimes referred to as Center Mayfield, comprises a triangular area around the meeting points of Mayfield, Noble and Warrensville Center roads, and is characterized by light industry, restaurants, insurance agencies, personal grooming and home furnishings stores, repair and specialty shops, and office space. Institutions, including Noble Elementary School and Noble Neighborhood Library, anchor the district, and Cleveland Heights-owned properties cover significant acreage. Among the city’s holdings in the district are an impound lot, the sewer division’s offices and service yard, CH Police Precinct number 4, a carpenter shop, a salt shed, a large aggregate-storage yard and a small office building.
The large vacant parcels in the Triangle have recently inspired some to consider how the entire district could be reimagined. There are three vacant lots of more than an acre apiece—a city-owned lot at Glenwood and Noble Road, a large parcel to the rear of the storefronts along Mayfield at South Noble roads, and the recently cleared site of the building that housed the Center Mayfield Theater. The two privately owned lots are for sale.
The "Envision a New Triangle District" workshop was opened by a leader of Noble Neighbors, the nonprofit community group. Roger Bliss, the FutureHeights (FH) Civic Engagement Committee’s co-chair, discussed urban design principles, particularly pedestrian-scale features and practices. Tim Boland, the city’s economic development director, described the financial tools the city uses to foster development, and Suzanne Meltzer, of RDL Architects, set out the framework for workshop activities.
Under a string of triangular pennant banners, participants formed four working groups which were led by Meltzer and Bliss, along with Gregory Soltis of RDL Architects, City Architecture’s Alex Pesta, and FH Civic Engagement Committee member Lisa Hong.
In the first exercise, participants described what they would like to see added to or limited in the Triangle district. Attendees said they wanted to see mixed-use development that would include quality restaurants and entertainment features, as well as space for office, retail and light industrial uses. Outdoors, people said they would like to see new streetscaping, patio-style dining, and performance venues. Participants imagined events during which Short Noble, the block of Noble Road between Mayfield and Glenwood roads, could be temporarily closed to vehicular traffic.
Housing variety, sustainability, parking considerations and the concept of placemaking showed up in the small groups’ presentations. Participants also considered how the district might provide opportunities for various populations, such as the aging, refugees, teens and children, artists, workers in skilled trades, and employees of the district's existing businesses.
Workshop participants wanted to see the neighborhood beautified, with gardens, storefront renovations, gathering spaces, and mural or sculpture installations. One group suggested triangle-shaped arches over the streets, to designate the Triangle as a gateway to the city. Every group expressed concern about the city-owned buildings and properties. The disrepair of the building that fronts Warrensville Center Road, and the visibility of the materials piled behind it, were unanimously considered deterrents to development.
In addition to Boland, other city of Cleveland Heights officials who attended were Richard Wong, Cleveland Heights planning director, and City Council members Carol Roe, Michael Unger and Mayor Cheryl Stephens. They joined in discussions about how city services could be restructured to better support new development in the district.
Sketches of redevelopment ideas were drawn by each group on maps of the district. A compendium of the ideas, possibilities and dreams that came out of the workshop will be viewable at www.nobleneighbors.com. Residents, business and property owners, and city officials are invited to offer additional input there, and developers and investors will be able to learn what kinds of projects would gain the widest support from the community.
Workshop participants said that they felt energized by the intensity and imagination they experienced in their work groups. Triangle-shaped cookies, chips and cut fruit prepared by Jeanette Carr contributed to the sense of whimsy, creativity and hopefulness, and lively discussions continued during the after-workshop party at Christopher’s Pub, a Triangle business.
Brenda H. May
Brenda H. May is one of the leaders of Noble Neighbors (www.nobleneighbors.com), and she opened the Triangle district workshop.