Candidates should endorse SAG's vision for Severance
Namdar Realty purchased Severance Town Center in 2016, and, like many other struggling and distressed malls that Namdar owns, Severance’s occupancy and condition has continually declined—except, notably, for the independently owned Dave's Market and the Home Depot. Otherwise, the face of Severance is one of many empty storefronts and buildings (most notably the former Walmart and Regal Cinema buildings) and a sea of pothole-filled parking lots.
This deteriorating property in the center of Cleveland Heights has begun to adversely impact surrounding areas and to attract vandals, most recently those who trashed the interior of the former Walmart store.
True to its business model, Namdar profits from the rent paid by the remaining businesses, spending as little as possible on maintenance, and nothing on creative redevelopment planning that would attract additional businesses and residents to the community. It sold the parcel under Home Depot for more than it paid for the entire property in 2016. The sale of any additional parcels could well preclude the possibility of having an integrated, holistic and creative solution to the redevelopment of Severance.
Namdar's neglect contrasts with the creative redevelopment of former malls into multi-use sites around the country, including those now being attempted by neighboring cities: in Shaker Heights, the Van Aken District; in University Heights, University Square; and, perhaps in Richmond Heights, Belle Oaks.
Since 2021, the Severance Action Group (SAG) has been urging the city to acquire control of the Severance property and has sought action by the city to plan for its redevelopment, along lines SAG has suggested and that both city council and the mayor previously endorsed for its future under new ownership.
A redeveloped Severance could be not only an asset to Cleveland Heights but also a regional model.
In the short term, the city should be enforcing all codes that apply to Severance. The city administration and city council should direct the city’s Board of Control, perhaps in conjunction with its Planning Commission, to oppose any effort by Namdar to further subdivide and sell off the Severance parcels it still owns.
SAG urges residents to ask city council candidates to clearly state their position regarding the city’s role in opposing further sales of parcels, pursuing site control and promoting the redevelopment of Severance, and to support those candidates who endorse this approach.
To contact SAG, send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Larry Nowak is chairman of Severance Action Group.