PEPPER PIKE — Bryan Stone and Steve Bittence of Axiom Development Group along with Yaromir Steiner of Steiner and Associates presented their plan to council for a town center at the Beech Brook property near Lander Circle. The property would need to be rezoned and could appear on the November ballot for residential approval.

Beech Brook, a behavioral health agency, has been downsizing its services in Pepper Pike in recent years and is planning to close that location soon. Axiom is under contract to purchase the 65-acre property, according to Mr. Bittence. Axiom partnered with Steiner and Associates, which designed Easton Town Center in Columbus, to work on the Pepper Pike project.

“It’s not going to be like Pinecrest or Eton,” Mr. Steiner said at the April 24 council meeting. “This will be designed to the scale of this community.”

The Beech Brook location is currently zoned as U-2 for public buildings, which has a limited list of uses, including schools, churches, libraries, community centers and municipal departments, according to the zoning code. City Planner George Smerigan explained that the city would use an overlay district to rezone the property so it can be used for residences, retail shopping and a gathering place for the community.

Mr. Smerigan said that an overlay would allow the land to keep its current U-2 zoning but would add an additional layer of zoning. He said that the land could only be developed with an approved development plan. Otherwise, the land would remain zoned for public buildings only.

“With the overlay district, the city gets the greatest amount of control,” he said. “We can review a detailed plan.”

Councilman Jim LeMay asked if the overlay zoning would supercede the current zoning. Mr. Smerigan explained that the current zoning stands until a development plan is approved, then the overlay zoning would control the land. Mr. Smerigan also said that the overlay district would allow various parcels to be residential or commercial.

Mr. Bittence added that the plan includes a new road cutting through the Beech Brook property that would connect Chagrin Boulevard and Lander Road, offering an alternative route instead of traveling on the traffic circle.

“This adds the tax base that you’re looking for but not unwanted or inappropriate density,” he said.

Mr. Bittence, Mr. Stone and Mr. Steiner showed conceptual images to council members for what type of town center could be created at the Beech Brook site, but did not have specific plans to share, such as building proposals or locations.

Mr. Steiner said that the intention is to create a walkable space with a range of housing for the population ranging from empty nesters to millennials. The goal is to create an environment with the energy of a town center that would not solely be a retail destination, he said.

Mr. Bittence added that he expects 50-60 residences that are a mix of single family detached homes, attached homes such as townhouses and rental apartments. Mayor Richard Bain informed council that the developers are planning retail shops north of Wiley Creek, residences south of the creek and the creek corridor will be a green space.

Councilman Jim Juliano asked how this town center would be designed so it remains popular in the future.

“How do you design a 65-acre piece of land that is flexible enough so that 20 years from now we’re not looking at a ghost town?”

Mr. Steiner and Mr. Bittence said that they plan to build a community around the road, emphasizing that the road to be installed would be used for more than just visiting the town center. Mr. Bittence said that it would be a community road that people would drive daily, to and from work.

Mr. Stone said that he would like the rezoning issue to be on the November ballot, meaning that council would need to pass an ordinance for rezoning in July. The ordinance is expected to be the first of three readings in May.

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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