FutureHeights supports mixed-use development in Cedar Lee
FutureHeights has become aware of a request by some in the community that all or most of the Cedar/Lee/Meadowbrook development site become green space or a public park, rather than a mixed-use development. FutureHeights fully understands and appreciates the value of public parks in our community as significant contributors to our quality of life, and believes that both the need for economic development and public access to green space can be accommodated in either of the two development proposals that are currently before the city.
- The thoughtful addition of public space to a proposed mixed-use development will enhance the existing assets of the district and increase the vitality and sustainability of the neighborhood. Both development proposals address the desirability of ensuring appropriate amenities for the neighborhood—in one case incorporating a small park on the southern end of the development at Lee Road and Meadowbrook Boulevard (www.clevelandheights.com/DocumentCenter/View/8935), and in the other incorporating a substantial public plaza (www.clevelandheights.com/DocumentCenter/View/8934).
- Both developers are aware that FutureHeights engaged in a robust civic-engagement process and created a plan to transform the public space located between the Cedar Lee Theatre and Boss Dog Brewing Company into a mini park that contains passive recreation spaces and gathering places for activities and artistic performances. Both proposals would integrate with that plan. (See the plan at www.futureheights.org/programs/cedar-lee-mini-park/.)
- Both the city of Cleveland Heights and merchants in the Cedar Lee Business District need a larger population base for tax revenue and business sales support. Cedar Lee merchants have struggled since the Great Recession, and store turnover and vacancies are an increasing concern following the pandemic. An increase in the residential population and introduction of new consumers directly into the business district, as a result of new housing-unit construction, can help mitigate these needs.
- The vacant Lee/Meadowbrook lot is a large gap in the existing fabric of the Cedar Lee Business District. Experience suggests that filling the gap in a manner that strengthens the “retail/building wall” that prominently characterizes the district will facilitate an increase in foot traffic and spending activity to benefit neighboring businesses and property owners. A development project of this type will not cannibalize existing businesses; rather, it will support them and help spur additional investments needed to fill existing vacancies.
- There is clear recognition by the city of Cleveland Heights that a parking and traffic study is an essential prerequisite to a finalized and approved development plan.
- Both proposals embrace significant public discussion of the development plan before it is finalized. As the city’s community development corporation that advocates for residents’ needs—with its executive director and 25-member board all being residents of Cleveland Heights—FutureHeights expects to be an active participant in such discussions.
We are fortunate to have the wonderful Cain Park as an anchor to the north end of the Cedar Lee Business District, and we are interested in ideas to increase its usage by residents and visitors alike. We applaud residents for thinking creatively about development in Cleveland Heights and encourage everyone to participate in the public process.
Deanna Bremer Fisher
Deanna Bremer Fisher is executive director of FutureHeights, and publisher of the Heights Observer. She wrote this position statement on behalf of FutureHeights. The Heights Observer supports open dialogue and does not take sides on issues or endorse specific proposals.