Build CLM PAC forms to oppose Issue 9
On March 6, 50 residents gathered at The Wine Spot, kicking off Friends of Build CLM's official PAC campaign. The PAC is working to ensure that the approved residential, commercial, and public-access green-space development at Cedar, Lee and Meadowbrook is not halted by a ballot initiative to mandate a park on part of the site.
“Issue 9 is an ill-conceived initiative to block development in the guise of a 1.07 acre ’public activity park,’” said Jeanne Gordon, one of the PAC’s organizers. “The park proposal is an unfunded mandate that proponents say the city can pay for. The city has no funds to build or maintain it. The developer is planning to create a park there as part of more than 2 acres of green space—plus apartments and storefronts that will attract new residents and visitors, bring in new income and sales tax revenue, and renew vibrancy to the district.”
The campaign also has the support of many district business owners, including the owners of Rudy’s Pub, CLE Urban Winery, Zagara’s Marketplace, the Cedar Lee Theatre, and Boss Dog Brewery.
In 2004, the city began the long process that resulted in the current development plan. A master plan for the district included urban infill and a parking garage, built to accommodate future development. The city purchased land and demolished buildings in anticipation, and issued a request for proposal [RFP] to developers. The economic recession in the late 2000s halted progress.
In October 2020, the city issued a new RFP for development in the Cedar Lee district. Park proponents did not submit a complete response to the city’s RFP.
“Over 15-plus years, the city has made significant investments with both money and time in bringing new development to our community and this district in particular,” said Catherine Osborn, another of the PAC’s organizers. “If this initiative is successful, it will all have been wasted.”
In April 2021, the city awarded the development to Flaherty & Collins (F&C), partnered with City Architecture. In June, the parties signed a memorandum of understanding. On Nov. 22, resolution number 154-2021, authorizing the city manager to enter into a development agreement with F&C, had its first reading; the second reading was Nov. 29; the legislation passed unanimously on Dec. 6. The city and F&C signed the formal development agreement on Dec. 9.
People for the Parks submitted its petition to the county board of elections (BOE) on Nov. 29, after the agreement's first reading. The BOE determined the petitioners didn’t have enough [valid] signatures. It wasn’t until Dec. 24, after three readings and the signing of the agreement, that park proponents submitted their official ballot initiative. Their submission of petitions after the legally binding contract was signed has called into question whether the initiative can be legally enforced.
Rather than take a chance that Issue 9 could pass and potentially lead to costly litigation, we are working overtime to ensure it is voted down by residents who support progress, economic development, and the local merchants who give back to our community.
Over the last year, the project has been presented at over 10 meetings, for public comment and input. It won full approval of the various boards and commissions, as required by the city. The approved plans include two new buildings and over 2 acres of open space that will be open to the community, all paid for and maintained by the developer, without cost to the city or residents. The developer will also manage and maintain the parking garage, reducing the city’s costs further.
The city’s plans are funded, complete, and well-thought out, unlike the oppositions'. Vote No on 9 to ensure this much-needed, long-anticipated development goes forward. For more information, visit www.BuildCLM.com, or Facebook @buildCLM.
Gayle Lewin is one of the three PAC organizers, along with Jeanne Gordon and Catherine Osborn. All are residents who live near Cedar Lee.