Storefront Renovation Program provides business owner with upgrade
Cleveland Heights small-business owner Franklin Myles has roots here that stretch back long before he moved into his State Farm Insurance storefront, in the Mayfield Triangle area of the Noble neighborhood, in 2003. He grew up, and attended school, here, graduating from Cleveland Heights High School. Though Myles has since moved away, it still is important to him to play an active role in the community.
“I know Cleveland Heights like the back of my hand,” Myles said. “It’s always been a beautiful place to me. The thought of coming back home to my community and opening up a business and taking care of people I went to school with, and their parents and all of that, was very exciting to me.”
In 2016, Myles was able to invest in the city when he bought the building where his State Farm Insurance office is located. It is also home to Polish Me Pretty, Hair Cafe, Impact Ink Tattoo, The Design Suite, Mary J. Braids II, Jasmine Rene Studio, Charter Educational Services, and Shear Design Hair and Nail Salon.
His decision to apply for the city of Cleveland Heights’ Storefront Renovation Program began with a visit from local real estate agent and FutureHeights committee member Helen Hertz.
“Helen would come by and visit and talk about Cleveland Heights and some of the projects she was doing and the work FutureHeights was doing. Her goal was to have business owners take care of their property and bring up the appearance of the storefronts,” Myles said.
After Hertz told him about the Storefront Renovation Program, Myles contacted the city to begin the process. From there, he was connected with city representatives who explained the program and then, after his application materials were submitted and vetted, connected him with an architect, at no cost, to create a plan.
“I wanted to make [the signage] unique to this building. I wanted something cutting edge and outside of the box because it helps set me apart from the other businesses,” Myles said.
“This process is not easy and it is not quick," Myles noted. "You have to have some patience because you’re dealing with the city and codes and all of that kind of stuff.”
Throughout the process, Myles enabled his tenants to get involved with the design of the new signage for their individual businesses.
With the funds Myles procured through the program, he was able to add signage on metal awnings that were back-lit with color, making the businesses eye-catching and visible when it’s dark outside.
"It’s cutting edge because there’s nothing like this at the moment. I think the building looks exceptional. It makes it hard to miss when you’re driving by,” Myles said. “We got a ton of feedback. People have never seen any type of sign like this before. I have a feeling there’s going to be a lot of copycats."
Myles sees his role as a small-business owner as being about making connections, both with other entrepreneurs and residents.
“We have to reach out to other businesses to let them know what they are able to do within their budget,” he said.
As he worked through the process with the city, Myles was able to negotiate an increase in grant offerings, from $25,000 to $40,000.
“It was stuck at a low amount for years and years and years, and we got them to increase it, which should help many other small businesses," Myles explained. "Now you’ll have more opportunities to invest in your business, and grant money is not money you have to pay back. It’s a win-win—but you have to go through the process.”
Myles hopes to expand his real estate investment in the city in the coming years, and is excited to do his part to make Cleveland Heights—especially Noble, where his business is located—a standout place in which to live and work. “Bringing this area up would be significant,” he said.
To learn more about Cleveland Heights' Storefront Renovation Program, visit www.clevelandheights.com/394/Storefront-Renovation-Program.
Sarah Wolf is the community-building programs manager at FutureHeights.