Build the complex at Cedar Lee Meadowbrook

About the most ridiculous proposal during all my years of living in Cleveland Heights is for the building of yet another park on Lee Road, smack in the middle of what should be a vibrant district of shopping, restaurants, theater, and a public library! What a waste of prime property in a commercial zone! 

This has been my neighborhood for 36 years, and many pushing for the park don’t even live or work in the district. Besides the development complex’s long-term, great benefit for so many (prospective business owners, shoppers, residents), this is a personal issue for me, as I have grown extremely enthusiastic in the past 20 years about three mixed-use developments planned for the triangle, only to be devastated each time a plan dwindled down, then fizzled out altogether. How many times I’ve walked by that triangular wasteland and been disgusted—even uneasy when it’s dark. The flow of the entire district is spoiled.

Still another park? Who will maintain it, and at what cost? Let’s see: we have within two miles two mini-parks within a block; our Cain Park treasure, just a stretch to the north and available for any sort of activity; all the Shaker Heights parkland just about a mile to the south; and a University Heights mini-park and city park not far to the east.

What we really could use is an exciting new complex on Lee Road, where no commercial or residential buildings have been constructed in close to 50 years. I believe the development would even raise housing values on the neighboring streets. Bring it on!

Obviously, planning major projects in Cleveland Heights has long been a delicate issue, though I see development booming in Little Italy, University Circle, Tremont and Ohio City.

The idea that, were a one-acre park to be built, the developer could go ahead with the remaining site, between Tullamore and Cedar roads, is ludicrous. If the developer cannot proceed with what has been discussed for countless hours, it will surely kill the project. The developer, Flaherty & Collins, has considered each alteration—often in response to public input—[in terms of] what it can accomplish for financial success, and is unlikely to be interested in any major reduction in scale. The developer has even been willing to compromise by providing a small park on the Silsby Road end, but that doesn’t satisfy the “Lee Road Park” crowd. If somehow a larger park were to go ahead. and the developer was still [able] to keep the project alive, surely it would want a much taller building on the remaining parcel, which the same pro-park crowd would protest again.

This should not involve a “vote of the people”—typically undertaken when zoning changes are required. Did the people vote on such projects as construction of the Heights Center Building, or the Heights Rockefeller Building? Flaherty & Collins has every right to build this project, with all the usual public meetings and opportunities for public participation. It’s called “free enterprise.” Consider the big picture, please: Let’s promote this mixed-use development to enhance the Heights, rather than such far off places as Solon or Strongsville. It looks like this project will finally make it. Let’s aim to keep this one!

Ken Goldberg

Ken Goldberg is a semi-retired librarian, local historian, and preservation consultant.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 4:04 PM, 12.01.2021