Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook plan includes green space
Pedestrian-oriented retail districts work best when they are continuous, encouraging shoppers to walk from storefront to storefront, from block to block. Lee Road, south of Cedar Road, is one of those vibrant, walkable retail and restaurant districts.
Placing a wide, block-long park in the middle of the Lee Road retail district would interrupt the flow of shoppers and diners walking along Lee Road and would, therefore, detract from the vibrancy of our retail district.
In contrast, smaller, more intimate outdoor gathering spaces can complement a neighborhood retail district, enhancing and strengthening the walkable district, without interrupting the flow of shoppers and diners.
That kind of landscaped outdoor gathering space, occupying half of what was once a paved Ohio Savings lot, is exactly what is proposed by the Lee-Meadowbrook developer. In addition, FutureHeights has proposed revitalizing another landscaped gathering space nearby, in the space between Heights Arts and Boss Dog Brewing Company.
Trees and green space are essential for a healthy environment, but not every vacant lot in a community should be a park.
Just as important to the health of this portion of Lee Road is the fact that the developer is proposing to add a substantial number of new households in a new multi-story, mixed-use streetside building on the vacant Lee-Meadowbrook site.
This housing will add new customers who can walk to patronize existing and new Lee Road businesses, thereby reducing automobile trips, in an environmentally sustainable development scenario.
The proposed development will not require any additional parking, because it will be served by the parking garage that was built by the city several years ago, in anticipation of this very development.
Last, but not least, the development will add jobs and income-tax revenues to help relieve the tax burden on the community’s current and future residents.
Given these considerations, I encourage the Cleveland Heights City Council to proceed with the mixed-use development on the vacant Lee-Meadowbrook block in accordance with the current concept plan, making refinements to ensure that the outdoor spaces meet the highest design standards and maximize public use.
Robert Brown is a city planner with 45 years of experience, including nine years as Cleveland's planning director. A resident of Cleveland Heights for more than 40 years, he is a FutureHeights board member.