Update: South Euclid City Council Votes to Rezone Oakwood
First Interstate Properties to start applying for building permits
Updated 7:15 p.m. Tuesday
South Euclid City Council unanimously voted to rezone the former Oakwood Country Club from residential to commercial at Monday night’s meeting.
First Interstate Properties, the company behind Legacy Village and Steelyard Commons, bought the land in South Euclid in December and requested that the city rezone the land so that the company could build a mix of retail and residential properties as well as parkland.
Now that the land is properly zoned, First Interstate will begin applying for building permits so it can begin developing the site, which will be named Oakwood Commons, said Mitchell Schneider, president of the company.
About 60 acres of Oakwood sits in South Euclid, and the remaining 92 acres is in Cleveland Heights. First Interstate plans to buy the land in Cleveland Heights by September, Schneider said at the meeting Monday night.
South Euclid Mayor Georgine Welo said that once developed, Oakwood will be the “showcase” of the community.
The rezoning process has taken about six months and included some nine meetings. South Euclid’s Planning Commission met several times, and voted April 14 to recommend that council rezone the land. Public hearings were held for residents to address their concerns.
About 35 people attended the meeting, and a half-dozen South Euclid and Cleveland Heights residents shared their concerns or opposition to the project, including Cleveland Heights resident Fran Mentch from Citizens for Oakwood, the organization advocating for the former country club to be converted into a park.
South Euclid resident Kathy Schaefer, also a member of Citizens for Oakwood, said she wants to get enough signatures to put a refendum on the November ballot.
"I would feel more comfortable if the citizens of South Euclid vote for this," Schaefer said. "If the citizens of South Euclid vote for this, and if they want it, then go live with it."
Schneider said that once the permit is in place, the company's rights are grandfathered and a referendum won't be possible.
"I think the voting public is very much in favor of this project, but a referendum is moot," he said.
In addition to the zoning change, First Interstate donated about 20 acres of the property to South Euclid and will create parkland and upgrade the property, adding trails and other features.
"To have this opportunity to have a portion of it be developed commercially and develop capital and donate 20 plus acres to the community is a balanced approach," he said.
Many council members were in full support, except for Ruth Gray who said she was still unsure about the proposed big box stores in the community, and said she wants businesses to pay people a living wage.
"I hope this development will move us forward as a city and prove to be beneficial to residents, but there are elements ... that I just don't agree with," Gray said.
Council member Jane Goodman thanked Citizens for Oakwood and others who opposed the project, because she said that people asked questions and brought up points that they may not have considered.
"When you're reinventing a whole city, you have to remain balanced. We needed to be allowed to be creative and be allowed to plan for the future," she said. She also thanked council and the planning commission for going through the "excruciating" process.
"We hope you will come share this once it is done."