The Cedar Lee Business District is one step closer to getting a revamp that’s been in the works for the past five years.
The Cedar Lee Special Improvement District hosted a series of meetings at the end of March to update merchants and residents about plans to revitalize the one-mile strip from Cain Park to the Lee Road Library.
Engineers from CDM Smith have collected data, analyzed the lighting and revised conceptual plans, and they should be finished with the engineering study and a draft of the report by the end of May.
Once that step is complete, they can submit plans to the Ohio Department of Transportation.
Architecture firm studioTECHNE designed the improvements, which include adding:
- Hanging plants
- More outdoor dining options by filling in some of the street parking spaces and putting them elsewhere on Lee Road
- New benches and trash cans
- ADA drop-offs
- “Street print” crosswalks where a design is heat-welded into the pavement to alert drivers that people are walking
“You know those places you go that you just want to grab a cup of coffee and sit there the whole day? We want to get to that comfort level here,” said Marc Ciccarelli, architect with studioTECHNE.
In addition, the park area owned by the city between Heights Arts and Lemon Grass would be renovated, and architects envision it as a place for art shows, outdoor movies and mini concerts. Sidewalks would be stained, which is cheaper than replacing them, wouldn’t interrupt businesses as much and adds color to the pale concrete.
The update was estimated to cost about $2 million in 2008 when the master plan was completed, Ciccarelli said, but that price tag has likely gone up at least 3 to 5 percent each year.
Cleveland Heights City Council applied for a $3.7 million grant to the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency in September, but Mayor Ed Kelley said he won’t know if that’s approved until, at the earliest, May or June.
Councilman Dennis Wilcox said at that meeting that it would pay for roughly 80 percent of the project. If approved, the city would ask for the money in three phases and would be required to provide a 20 percent match.
“Cedar Lee is a very hot area in the city … To me this is the most important thing we’ll do in the next two to three years,” Kelley said. “I think if you need any indication of why it should be done, you should go down to Coventry and see what they’ve done with the streetscape — the lights, the trees, the benches, —just how welcoming and inviting and how nice it looks.”
Kelley Robinson, executive director of the Cedar Lee SID, wants the district to have a consistent feel.
"I'm just excited that there’s going to be a comprehensive stratgegy for the whole district, because unlike Cedar Fairmount that has significant Tudor architecture, nothing on Lee Road looks alike," Robinson said.
Engineers at the meetings said the actual construction is likely one to two years away.
Kelley said once there’s money for the project, he’d like the work to start “in a matter of days of weeks.”
“The merchants and property owners have worked very hard on this. Kelley Robinson has done a fabulous job shepherding this project,” Kelley said. “She has a lot of energy, and she’s making things happen and it’s great to work with her.”
Robinson said people at the meetings were excited to hear that better lighting and other safety improvements were part of the project.
“We’re working to make the traffic patterns for vehicles, pedestrians and bikers much safer routes to travel,” Robinson said. “It will encourage residents and visitors to walk and maybe hang out a little more in the district. It’s a great district, but it needs a face-lift.”
The streetscape project is being developed by the Cedar Lee SID in cooperation with the City of Cleveland Heights, ODOT and NOACA.
You can see the Cedar Lee Streetscape master plan at the NOACA website: http://www.noaca.org/cedarlee.pdf
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