Consider smaller, upscale grocer for Cedar Fairmount

Growing up in Cleveland Heights, I have fond memories of shopping at Russo's Fairmount store. Like many longtime residents, I feel a sense of sadness seeing it vacant. Seeing it occupied by Dave's Supermarket, which doesn't quite cater to the local market around Cedar Fairmount, was disappointing to me. I don't mean to come off as a snob, but shouldn't we aim for an upscale grocer that fits into a smaller footprint, catering to the residents nearest to Cedar Fairmount?

As someone with experience as a former commercial real estate broker, I believe finding the right fit is crucial for ensuring a store's profitability and sustainability as a tenant in this space. An outlet grocery doesn't seem like the right fit here.

I disagree with the notion that the Heights doesn't need another grocery store. Previous failures don't negate the possibility of success in that location. Russo's was successful for many years, and I'm unsure why it closed. Despite the challenges, retailers like Heinen's have thrived by adapting to market changes and meeting community needs.

Cedar Fairmount is a densely populated residential area, with a growing number of health-conscious and younger residents. A store that residents can walk to, perhaps with a café for remote workers, would be ideal given the premium on parking in the area.

Regarding the request for city support for the upfit, while I understand the property owners’ perspective, I believe they should explore financing options themselves. It would be helpful to see a detailed breakdown of their contributions to the community over the years, beyond just owning the property and the [former] grocery store.

Considering their potential returns in a few years, securing a loan or using their own capital appears more appropriate than seeking public subsidies. Sharing their profit and loss statements from both the building and the [Russo’s] grocery store they owned in that space could provide a fuller context for evaluating any potential support from the city and ought to be made transparent to the public from which they're requesting a grant.

I'd like to see them share about their engagement and philanthropy with the city over their tenured involvment with that building. They might also consider selling the property to a developer that does have the funding to provide for the upfits needed.

Miriam Schuman

Miriam Schuman, an executive leadership coach and consultant, is a civic-minded, longtime resident of the Heights (with the exception of a dozen years in N.C.). She is happy to be back!

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Volume 17, Issue 6, Posted 8:43 AM, 05.29.2024