Coventry Village calls on residents to support urgent revitalization
As the sun sets over the iconic streets of Coventry Village, the once lively thoroughfare now reveals the shadows of vacant storefronts. The heart and soul of Cleveland Heights, Coventry Village is at a pivotal crossroads, with an alarming one in three of its commercial properties now empty.
We, the Coventry Village Special Improvement District (CVSID), alongside the passionate members of the Coventry Vacancies Working Group, are striving for revitalization.
I took on the role of executive director of CVSID with a deep appreciation for the district's unique charm and cultural significance. Today, I pen this call to action with a sense of urgency, appealing to the collective conscience of our community.
The Present Landscape
COVID-19 has left a significant imprint on local businesses worldwide. Coventry Village, despite its historic resilience, has been significantly affected. The tangible decline in foot traffic and a stark contrast to the average retail vacancy rate in Greater Cleveland (under 5%) underscores Coventry's predicament.
While the challenges we face are multi-dimensional, the spirit of Coventry remains indefatigable. It's this spirit that inspired the formation of the Coventry Vacancies Working Group—a coalition of local business owners, residents, city representatives, nonprofits, and passionate community stakeholders.
Our Plan for Revival
On Aug. 7, buoyed by the robust support of more than 20 community members, we presented a comprehensive revitalization strategy to Cleveland Heights City Council. We're requesting $400,000 from the city's ARPA allocation to usher in transformative change, including:
- Championing Public Art: Envisioning a colorful Coventry, we aim to commission murals and spruce up vacant storefronts with art installations, making every walk a visual treat.
- Empowering Pedestrians: Prioritizing the pedestrian experience through parklets and ensuring safety with enhanced crosswalks on Coventry Road.
- Boosting Safety: Restoring the trust of visitors and locals alike, with an evening “beat cop” to deter vandalism and crime.
- Pop-up Revival: Breathing life into vacant spaces by enabling local entrepreneurs to set up short-term pop-up stores.
- A New Dawn for Tenants: Offering attractive tenant improvement grants to draw businesses and rejuvenate our iconic village.
Prominent community members, from Kathy Blackman of the Grog Shop to Tom Fello, owner of Tommy's, have echoed these sentiments and the dire need for change.
Your Role in Coventry’s Revival
A village's strength lies in its community. Today, Coventry Village needs its community more than ever. On Sept. 8, Cleveland Heights City Council will decide on the allocation of its ARPA funds.
Your voice can make the difference. I urge each of you to write to City Council, express your support for our proposal, and emphasize the importance of rejuvenating Coventry Village. Every letter, every call, every e-mail can be the push that tilts the balance in favor of our shared vision.
To get involved, reach out to City Council before Sept. 8. Let's write Coventry Village's next chapter, together.
We’ve seen first-hand how shows of community support can influence our city government to act. To make it as easy as possible to express your support, we’ve created a template e-mail that you can copy and paste or modify as you like. The CH City Council e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Time is limited to share your support!
Let's act decisively and collaboratively to reclaim Coventry's vibrancy. With your support, together, we can create a future that not only honors our storied past but also brightly illuminates the path ahead.
Mallory Kent is the executive director of Coventry Village Special Improvement District (CVSID). She is passionate about her community and helping to create connection and access for all.