Cedar Lee development receives final design approval

A site plan for the Meadowbrook portion of the CLM development project. [courtesy Flaherty & Collins and City Architecture]

On Dec. 6, 2021, Cleveland Heights City Council unanimously approved a development agreement with Flaherty & Collins (F&C) to build a mixed-use development in the Cedar Lee Business District. The agreement was signed by the city and the developer on Dec. 9. F&C is working with City Architecture to design the project. On March 2, the team’s proposal received final design approval from the city’s Architectural Board of Review (ABR).

The development comprises two city-owned parcels (approximately 5 acres total): the Meadowbrook site, a 1.07-acre plot of land between Lee Road, Meadowbrook Boulevard, and Tullamore Road; and the larger Cedar-Lee site, which encompasses the existing parking lot and parking garage between Tullamore and Cedar roads, behind the Lee Road businesses on that block.

Information on the city's website, at www.clevelandheights.com/clm, contains the signed development agreement, as well as other documents about, and renderings of, the current project; a summary and timeline of the city's efforts to develop the site; and an overview of public meetings held.

A March 1 presentation by city Planning Department staff included a brief "history of the redevelopment area," which traced the Meadowbrook site back to the 1930s through 1950s, when the "Meadowbrook site housed two gas stations." The site was rezoned in 2004 to accommodate mixed-use development. In 2006, an EPA grant-funded brownfield remediation was completed at the Meadowbrook parcel. The city constructed the parking garage the following year. The city’s 2017 Master Plan formally designated the site's future land use as “Mixed Use: Commercial + Retail.”

According to the design F&C presented to the ABR on March 1, on the larger Cedar-Lee site, plans specify four-story buildings, comprising 139 "market-rate" residential units; 1,200 square feet of retail space, and 74,230 square feet of "open space." On the Meadowbrook site, plans call for three- and four- , and "sometimes" two-story buildings, comprising 67 residential units, 7,000 square feet of retail space, and 24,737 square feet of "open space." The development agreement describes the apartments as "first-class in all respects." 

Alex Pesta, principal and partner of City Architecture, said there will be 2.3 acres of "outdoor space" in total, across both parcels. Of that, 1.31 acres is designated as accessible to the public, while 0.53 acres is reserved for two residential courtyard spaces, and 0.06 acres is for a dog run for residents. The balance of open space is sidewalks, walkways and "side yard[s]," according to Pesta.

Language in the development agreement states: "Programming of the public spaces and/or their use for activity, public information, signage, etc. shall require notification to and approval from the Developer (not to be unreasonably withheld, conditioned or delayed) and may be facilitated through the City."

It's the public space that is at the crux of Ballot Issue 9, an initiative undertaken by residents who would like to see the entire 1.07-acre Meadowbrook site designated a "public activity park," according to the ballot language. Issue 9 will be on the May 3 Cleveland Heights primary ballot, prompting some residents who favor development of the full Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook site to organize in opposition to the Issue 9. For information on the two opposing sides of the ballot issue, visit https://www.buildclm.com (anti-Issue 9) and https://clevelandheightspublicsquare.com (pro-Issue 9).

According to the city, "the next steps for the project involve completing building plans and reviewing the project’s financials, including the approval of public financial incentives by the City of Cleveland Heights and the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District."

Jessica Schantz and Alena Bower

Jessica Schantz is the Heights Observer's e-news editor. Alena Bower, who contributed to this article, is a member of FutureHeights' Planning and Development Committee. Darren Cross, another member of the committee, contributed to an earlier draft version of this article.

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Volume 15, Issue 4, Posted 2:44 PM, 04.01.2022