ORANGE — Mayor Kathy Mulcahy is making future plans for the Weintraub property, 80 acres of undeveloped land that runs south of Harvard Road between Orange Place and Brainard Road. The property, which has been on the market for about two decades, could be a site for a mix of green space and further development in the village.
“It would affect the nature of this community permanently,” Mayor Mulcahy said in an interview on Oct. 28.
The land is adjacent to Orange’s newest developments, including the Pinecrest shopping center, Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant and the Drury hotel that is slated to open in the spring of 2020. Mayor Mulcahy explained an idea to divide that property and develop 24 acres and leave the remaining 56 acres to be preserved in perpetuity. The property has a current price tag of $11.5 million, according to Jim Stonehill, vice president of Terra National Real Estate Group.
“It’s a public-private partnership,” Law Director Steve Byron said.
Orange Place, which used to end at Harvard Road, now continues southbound to Cooper’s Hawk and the Drury. The mayor said that by dividing the property, the developed land would have frontage on Orange Place. The land that could be preserved, she said, is at Brainard and Harvard roads and extending west almost to Orange Place south.
The village recently applied for a $1.2 million Clean Ohio grant to help preserve 55 acres of the Weintraub property, which is comprised of five parcels. If Orange Village officials move forward with this project, it would protect land along the drainage divide between the Chagrin River and Tinker’s Creek watersheds, according to the grant application.
“The area surrounding the Interstate 271/Harvard Road interchange has experienced substantial commercial development, and undeveloped land in this area is in high demand, resulting in an immediate need to protect sensitive wetland areas to provide habitat for native wetland plant, macro-invertebrate and bird species,” according to the application to Clean Ohio.
“In addition to protecting wildlife habitat in an expanding commercial zone, this project will also protect the natural storm water management benefits of the wetlands,” the application notes.
For the developed portion, she said that some possibilities could be an office building or a senior living community. Mayor Mulcahy said that she would like to partner with the Weintraub family to find a solution that is well-suited for the village. She also has worked with the Cleveland Metroparks and the Chagrin River Watershed Partners on this concept. The preserved portion of land could be used for passive activities such as hiking, the mayor said.
“It’s a noble cause, and the sellers believe it’s a noble cause,” Mr. Stonehill said.
The land currently is zoned U-1 for 1.5-acre residential properties, but the mayor said that there has been no interest for using the land that way. There has been interest from developers for high-density projects, Mayor Mulcahy said, such as a mall or big-box stores.
She said that the village has plans to approve a memorandum of understanding, which would give Orange the right to work with the Weintraub family to make a deal. If the property owners received an offer, the memorandum of understanding also would give the village the right to first refusal.