Library offers six-month leases to PEACE building tenants

At its Monday, May 20, meeting, the Heights Libraries Board of Trustees voted to provide short-term lease options for nine PEACE Building tenants: Artful, Building Bridges, Cleveland Heights Teacher’s Union, Coventry PEACE Inc., FutureHeights, Grace Communion Church, Lake Erie Ink, Reaching Heights, and Singer’s Club.

Each of the nine tenants had an option to extend their lease for an additional 18 months after their current lease expired on June 30, 2024.  The deadline for exercising the lease option was April 1, 2024, but none of the nine exercised that option by the deadline.

The board voted to offer a six-month lease to each of the nine tenants, renewable on a monthly basis after that, while the board gathers information and studies options for viable use of the building.

The building is in dire need of repair, notably to its roof and heating system. According to a March 2024 capital needs assessment report, the building needs $2.8 million for the necessary repairs.

Exacerbating the situation is the fact that the average rent is $6 per square foot, plus $4.13 per square foot for operating expenses, far below the market rate and not high enough to cover the building’s expenses.

“We have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers of Cleveland Heights and University Heights to manage the dollars given to us prudently and appropriately,” said Vikas Turakhia, board president. “The old Coventry school was built almost 50 years ago, and it’s not at all a stretch to say that the capital expenditures needed are not simply related to comfort. There are health and safety issues to consider, such as roof repairs and accessibility.

“We are doing our best to be a responsible commercial property owner by taking care of safety and security issues, but the building continues to deteriorate. Every dollar we spend on that building is a dollar we should be spending on public services and spaces that are free and open to all, like our expansion of the Noble branch and new PEACE Park.”

“Our board understands that the former Coventry school building is not a public building,” said Heights Libraries Director Nancy Levin.  “And a public library is a public building. We receive our funding from state and local taxes, so the money we spend must go toward public services, which can include anything from materials, to classes, to spaces to sit in and work, study, or just be. Any member of the public can enter a library building for no reason other than they want to be there, and that person can stay all day reading, relaxing, taking classes, using a public computer, or taking their child to a storytime.

“The library is not a funder, nor is it a foundation, and the PEACE Building is not a public building, and does not offer free services to the public. People must buzz in to the PEACE building unless there is a specific event that is open to the public or the individual has an appointment. Programs are not free to the public except in rare cases. For example, Artful does have some free events like the PEACE Pops, but it resells space to artists; it is not a free resource for artists. Some other tenants are nonprofits that do not directly serve the public, like the CH-UH Schools Teacher’s Union.”

The board directed library staff to develop options for viable use of the property for consideration before Dec. 31, 2024, stressing the need for soliciting public feedback. No other decisions have been made.

“Despite what you may have heard, what you may be hearing or what you may hear, the decision about what to do with the Coventry PEACE Building has not been made and there are no inevitabilities,” said Levin. “The board has asked staff to conduct an open, transparent and public process to consider options that are both within the mission of the library as well as in the best interest of the community. Over the coming months, we look forward to hearing from all of our stakeholders in the community, not just the tenants.”

Public documents related to this story, including tenants’ leases and building financials, can be found at

Sheryl Banks

Sheryl Banks is the communications manager for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System.

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Volume 17, Issue 7, Posted 8:22 AM, 06.26.2024