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Cedar Lee District Moves One Step Closer To Revamp

The Cedar Lee SID hosted meetings to get feedback on the plans, and an engineering study is almost complete.

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 to the .

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 , which include adding:

  • Trees
  • 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 and 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 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

Share your thoughts on the streetscape improvement project below.

Susan Miller April 12, 2012 at 01:32 PM
There's more to know. Here's the whole shebang. http://www.noaca.org/cedarlee.pdf
Michelle Simakis April 12, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Thanks for your comments, Susan. In my hometown, a cute strip mall was renovated so that every single store was this square slab of concrete and each store name was in the same font and color - green. (Sounds kind of like what you were talking about.) So I agree, sometimes cookie-cutter architecture can be bad (and ugly). But I think what Kelley was saying is that there's a consistent feel to the district. You know you're in Cedar Fairmount because of the beautiful Tudor architecture. You know you're in Coventry because of the designs in the fences and the colorful benches and street signs and the trees (which are beautiful and blooming right now.) I also included that link in the article because there are many more details that this one article couldn't cover.
amandashaffer April 12, 2012 at 04:08 PM
I am happy they are going after money for improvements & hope it draws more merchants to empty stores. I know it is not the scope of this project but I would love to see some attention from the library to Fairmount. This is how we walk to the shopping district and it is not inviting. Sidewalk repair, trash cans, benches for RTA riders, enforcement of speed limits so bikes & walkers feel safe.
Garry Kanter April 12, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Cleveland Heights has unlimited potential to be a great City Of The Future. The city's founder's designed the place to have great neighborhoods. The lack of industry makes for great living, but high taxes. Some time later, some good folks made sure that our neighborhoods were not torn asunder by highways, ramps and concrete. We have all the assets we need: enthusiastic, thoughtful, caring people and some great 'bones' to work with. Not with thoughtless bullying, like with the resident-unfriendly Taylor Road resurfacing project. But with leadership from the mayor and council, a few $ from our taxes, and the input from thousands of intelligent and committed residents, there's no limit to what we could get done.
Danielle Bumpers April 26, 2012 at 04:05 PM
I moved back to the eastside after being a westsider for 20 years. I love Cleveland Heights, it's convenient bus locations, gorgeous homes and abudance of support of local businesses by the community is what drew me back. I would like to see more greenery and benches especially in the lot by Meadowbrook where the condos where supposed to go. I am a frequent customer in the Cedar-Lee District, the Cedar Fairmount District and Convetry. I feel the more money we put back into our City the more we get out of it. I just wish the taxes were lower!!

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