CSU's Viking Planners present study of Cedar Lee Business District

Members of the Viking Planners present their findings and recommendations to the community at the Cedar Lee Theatre on May 9.

Viking Planners, a team of graduate students from the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, presented a market study of the Cedar Lee Business District to an audience of more than 125 at the Cedar Lee Theatre on May 9.

FutureHeights, through its Heights Community Development Alliance program, had contracted with the students to complete the study as their capstone project. Robert A. Simons, professor and former director of the Master of Urban Planning, Design and Development program at Levin College, and Jim Kastelic, program director for the Ohio office of the Trust for Public Land, co-taught the class.

“This was the first time Viking Planners completed a project outside the City of Cleveland, and it was a competitive process to be selected for the study,” said Deanna Bremer Fisher, executive director of FutureHeights. “We wanted to bring a planning project to Cleveland Heights, and Cedar Lee was the best fit with the class’s objectives. The streetscape and high school renovations are going to have a big impact. We wanted to see how we could build on these projects and the district’s lively arts and restaurant scene.”

The students reviewed previous studies; analyzed current conditions; and surveyed and interviewed merchants, city officials, residents and visitors. They examined parking, safety, signage, retail mix, and redevelopment and infill opportunities, among other aspects.

The students presented potential scenarios and recommendations. Defining Cedar Lee as “the heart of the Heights,” a place where people come together, they identified opportunities to attract more University Circle visitors and employees as residents and customers. Their recommendations included improving connectivity within and around the corridor, establishing a Community Development Corporation (CDC), defining and promoting a strong district identity, and leveraging the district’s historic and cultural assets.

FutureHeights funded the $5,000 study. In the next several months, FutureHeights plans to review the recommendations and explore potential next steps with stakeholders.

To view the students' report, visit www.vikingplanners.weebly.com.

Richard Stewart

Richard Stewart is president of the FutureHeights Board of Directors.

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Volume 9, Issue 6, Posted 10:31 AM, 05.30.2016