ORANGE — One of the unexpected changes for the village in 2020 was the change in ownership of Pinecrest, the $230 million mixed-use district that opened in 2018 at Harvard Road and Interstate 271. Fairmount Properties, the initial owner, had a $170 million loan from Square Mile Capital Management, but faced some hardship when Gov. Mike DeWine closed shops and restaurants in March due to the pandemic. Stores here and across country struggled to stay afloat.

Mayor Kathy Mulcahy said that the Pinecrest property value dropped below the $170 million loan, so Square Mile Capital took ownership through a deed in lieu of foreclosure. This agreement with Fairmount Properties avoided years of legal battles. Fairmount Properties still manages the upscale shopping center with a hotel and apartments.

To give the local businesses a boost in 2020, Councilwoman Staci Vincent and Councilman Brent Silver developed Orange for the Holidays. Village residents were invited to pick up a coupon book with deals for businesses in Orange encouraging everyone to support local stores.

Across Harvard from Pinecrest, the Drury Inn and Suites and BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse opened in 2020.

There are 80 acres of undeveloped land south of Harvard between Orange Place Drive and Brainard Road. Mayor Mulcahy explained a plan to develop 24 acres and preserve the remaining 56 acres. She said that office space may work well in the portion to be developed, but plans are on hold now due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Orange Village police assisted in a statewide human trafficking bust in October of 2020 called Operation Autumn Hope. Officers worked with police from Beachwood, Westlake and Middleburg Heights to rescue victims, recover missing and exploited children, apprehend those seeking to have sex with a minor and arrest people seeking to buy sex. Orange’s unit had 46 arrests and 26 potential victims. Police Chief Chris Kostura said that the unit conducted four days of this operation and one took place at a hotel in Orange.

Former Councilman Scott Bilsky announced his resignation in July of 2020 because of his move to Pepper Pike. Council members appointed Alan Charnas to fill the open seat. Mr. Charnas was first appointed in 2019 after former Councilman Ron Barron passed away during his term. Mr. Charnas ran in the fall 2019 election but did not win a seat. His current term expires Dec. 31, 2021. Other new council members in 2020 included Mrs. Vincent, Mr. Silver and Councilman Pradip Kamat.

Julie Hullett has been a reporter for the Chagrin Valley Times since August of 2018 and covers Gates Mills, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike and Woodmere. She graduated from John Carroll University with a journalism degree in 2018.

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