Mayors from the eastern suburbs of Cleveland concluded at a gathering last week that business is thriving in their communities.
Community stakeholders at the gathering in the Cleveland Racquet Club in Pepper Pike last Friday heard about store openings and new projects from Mayor Kathy Mulcahy of Orange Village, Mayor Richard Bain of Pepper Pike, Mayor William Tomko of the Village of Chagrin Falls, Trustee John Finley of Chagrin Falls Township and Mayor Ben Holbert of Woodmere as they spoke on recent store openings and other new projects.
“Orange Village is in a strong financial situation,” Mayor Mulcahy told residents last Friday. Pinecrest, the village’s $230 million mixed-use district at Harvard Road and Interstate 271, has 400,000 square feet of retail space and businesses have committed to 96 percent of that space, she said. The development agreement required 65 percent of the retail tenants to come from outside of a 20-mile radius. Mayor Mulcahy said that the office space is 100 percent leased and the apartments are two-thirds filled.
She explained that the Orange City School District will receive more than $890,000 in 2020 in payments in lieu of taxes from Pinecrest, which uses tax increment financing. The village is sharing 42.5 percent of the income taxes collected from Pinecrest excluding the first $500,000, and the village has already reached that limit. Therefore, the schools will receive a total of $1.2 million in 2020, the mayor said.
“We are starting to see the income coming in,” she said.
Behind Silverspot Cinema at Pinecrest, Mayor Mulcahy said that there are plans to develop 24 acres for 392 residential units, but it has not yet been approved. Across Harvard Road, there will soon be a BJ’s Restaurant in addition to the Drury Hotel now being built and Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant that opened last year. There are 80 adjacent acres, and Mayor Mulcahy said she is working to preserve 56 acres and develop the remaining 24 acres.
“We’re extremely financially stable,” Mayor Bain said of Pepper Pike. The city has more than 100 percent of its operating budget in cash reserves.
He said that there is an influx of businesses and noted that the Jewish Family Service Association and Geraci’s Restaurant joined the city just in the last year. The mayor also said that Landerwood Plaza, the city’s main shopping district, was renovated last year and now has a refreshed appearance without changing the nature of the plaza. Mayor Bain said one longtime business, Kredo Hardware at Landerwood Plaza, is closing its doors.
The mayor noted that the administration and council are exploring rezoning of the Beech Brook property near Lander Circle for mixed-use, possibly a town center. Public meetings have been held about possible rezoning, he said. Though rezoning would need approval by residents, no issue has been put on a ballot as of yet, he said. The city’s biggest concern is traffic, he added. Mayor Bain also said that Pepper Pike received a grant from the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District to convert septic systems to a sanitary sewer, starting with Gates Mills Boulevard.
Mayor Tomko said that Chagrin’s businesses, which are mostly retail shops and restaurants, are doing well.
“It has largely become a tourist and shopping destination,” he said.
Chagrin’s retail operations are under threat, he said, as are all brick-and-mortar stores with online shopping as a popular alternative. Chagrin Falls businesses face intense competition from other stores in the Chagrin Valley, he added.
He said that the village government has been actively involved with its merchants to promote shopping in Chagrin and to view it as a shopping experience. Mayor Tomko gave examples of the shopping experience with the flower beds that line downtown Chagrin Falls and the Chagrin Valley Chamber of Commerce’s concert series in Triangle Park in the summer months.
In addition, the village received a NatureWorks grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to complete the 1-mile riverwalk trail on the south side of the river that will lead into town.
Chagrin Falls Township Trustee John Finley said that the township is comprised of 100 percent residents and the chamber of commerce is located in Township Hall. Mr. Finley said that he hopes the township can provide a permanent home to the chamber since the chamber benefits the township and the Chagrin Valley.
Mayor Holbert said that Woodmere’s commercial district is doing well. The village, which is 1 square mile, has more than 300 businesses along Chagrin Boulevard, including Corky and Lenny’s, Trader Joe’s and shops at Eton Chagrin Boulevard such as Tiffany’s and Barnes and Noble. Two new businesses are coming to the village, according to the mayor, Jersey Mike’s Subs and Bank of America.
He said that one of Woodmere’s main projects is the Chagrin widening, which will add one westbound lane between Orange Place and East Brainard Road in 2021. He said that the village is waiting on a grant approval from the Ohio Public Works Commission.
“We’re hoping for a minimum level of distress during construction,” he said.
The mayor said that Woodmere is completing its master plan in coordination with the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission. The master plan studied housing, branding, marketing, mobility and wellness for residents and businesses to make Woodmere a destination to live and shop.