The city of Cleveland Heights wants ideas.
The grassy land on Lee Road and Meadowbrook Boulevard was once home to Ohio Savings Bank, but it was razed and the space has been vacant for about five years, said Howard Thompson, economic development director for Cleveland Heights.
Thompson sent a proposal to developers and architects in November and asked them to come up with ideas for the property, and he said he hopes construction on something starts as early as September 2012.
The city initially tried to develop the nearly one-acre property in 2007 and 2008, Thompson said, but then the economy soured.
“That work was very much focused on a residential, retail aspect, and I think there is more of a market or demand for different things there,” he said.
The city bought the land for $60,000 in April.
“Business is booming along Cedar Lee. It really gives us the opportunity to look at dynamic development opportunities,” Thompson said. “We want to give people an opportunity to live, work and play in the same area.”
There are plenty of restaurants and theaters in the area, Thompson said. He hopes to attract developers who want to build office space on the land, which is zoned for mixed-use development.
“We have so many restaurants down there … We need people that are working in the area, that are walking to get lunch, walking to get a cup of coffee ... I want to see workers down there,” he said. “Not solely workers. I could see some upper-scale residential units with potentially people who are working in the offices below.”
Thompson sent out a request for proposal Nov. 21. Developers have until 5 p.m. Jan. 24 to send him ideas for the space, their qualifications and background and whether they’d plan to buy the land. So far, no one has responded.
“The intent of the proposal is not for people to send me back a packet of information about how great their firm is. They should send a development summary of what they plan to do there, how they plan to do it and how the city would be involved in that,” Thompson said, adding that he sent the request to several architects and developers.
Mayor Ed Kelley said he is open to suggestions for the space, which has already had an environmental assessment and has other perks such as a parking garage nearby.
“I’m looking for something new and exciting to be there. The timing is right (for it to be) done, and I’m looking for something that will complement the Cedar Lee Business District and the community at large,” Kelley said. “We think the economy is getting a little bit better. Some people have expressed interest in this Meadowbrook and Lee spot, and it’s probably the most ready and desirable spot on the east side of Cleveland.”
Kelley said once Cleveland Heights City Council members receive the proposals, it will take about four to six weeks to review them.