A panel of five East Siders, including three Cleveland Heights residents, discussed “East Side Redevelopment: Prospects for Reinvention,” at the Lee Road Library on May 9. Terry Schwarz, of Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, moderated the panel. Joining her were Mansfield Frazier, who operates the winemaking operation Chateau Hough; Wayne Mortensen of Cleveland Neighborhood Progress; Rick Semersky of VIP Restoration; and Joyce Braverman, development director for the city of Shaker Heights.
The Alcazar, the historic apartment building and hotel located at the intersection of Surrey and Derbyshire roads in Cleveland Heights, has a new owner, and, as a result, some changes will be coming to the building. Montlack Realty bought the Alcazar for $1.4 million on Sept. 22.
The building currently consists of 184 units: 62 apartments, all of which include a kitchen and a bathroom, and 122 lodging units, which have bathrooms but no kitchens. According to Kirt Montlack, 48, whose family owns the real estate company, the plan is to eliminate the lodging units and increase the number of apartments to 96.
Montlack said the company will install new and larger kitchens in all of the apartments, as well as bigger, more modern bathrooms. The changes, which require the approval of the Cleveland Heights zoning board, will take place over the next year and a half.
The Cedar Lee commercial district, the largest of the traditional neighborhood commercial districts that Cleveland Heights is known for, may soon add a new anchor to its collection. The Orlean Company, already active in the city as a partner in the Bluestone and Kenilworth Mews residential developments, is planning a four-story, mixed-use building containing 77 market-rate rental apartments and nearly 15,000 square feet of commercial space on the long-vacant, city-owned parcel on the northeast corner of Lee Road and Meadowbrook Boulevard.
In a March 22 press release, First Interstate Properties announced that Oakwood Commons will feature a Walmart Supercenter. According to the press release, Mitchell Schneider, president of First Interstate Properties, "has signed an agreement to bring a Walmart Supercenter to the new Oakwood Commons development in South Euclid."
First Interstate Properties Ltd announced that it has exercised its option to acquire the Cleveland Heights portion of the Oakwood Country Club. "We exercised this option on March 1, so we now control the entire parcel," said Mitchell C. Schneider, president of First Interstate, headquartered in Lyndhurst. "We do have some flexibility regarding the actual date to take title, but I expect that will happen within the next several months," he added.
The following was sent via e-mail at about 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday Jan. 4 by the Severance Neighborhood Organizaiton – which has taken a leading interest in use of the the former Oakwood Country Club property. The developer of Legacy VIllage and other such developments has plans to use the property for a combination of "value-oriented" retail, high-density residential development and greenspace. This e-mail is provided in its entirety without editing.
The following was sent to the e-mail list of the Severance Neighborhood Organization, which is spearheading opposition to development of the former Oakwood Club. It is presented in its entirety with no editing.
Thanks to everyone who attended the [Jan. 10] South Euclid City Council meeting. We made a powerful statement by having a big crowd of about 35-40 people turn out to hear the first reading of the ordinance to change the zoning on the South Euclid part of the Oakwood property.
We are sad to report that the process left much to be desired. Although we remain dedicated to having this be a model process of discussion between residents, government and the business sector, in order to come to the best conclusion for all concerned, we did not get off to a good start in South Euclid on Monday night.
First Interstate Properties announced on Dec. 30 that it had purchased 62 acres of the former Oakwood Country Club property in South Euclid. First Interstate also has a contract in place to purchase the remaining 92 acres in Cleveland Heights.
In January, a story by Channel 3’s investigative reporter Tom Meyer indicated that Cleveland Heights Housing Commissioner Rick Wagner, at the urging of the FBI, may have exacerbated the impact of an alleged mortgage scam on Cleveland Heights. Specifically, Meyer’s report said Wagner waived escrow requirements to repair housing violations, allowing homes to change hands before repairs were made.
In the context of the alleged mortgage fraud—the subject of a 266-page indictment announced last August—escrow waivers allowed the homes to sell faster, ultimately ending up in the hands of unqualified buyers, and later to fall into foreclosure or abandonment.
After the story broke, City Manager Robert Downey asked Cleveland Heights Law Director John Gibbon to review the matter and report on the city’s role in the FBI investigation and its impact on the city.
Thirty-six-year-old Uri Gofman, of Beachwood, was indicted last summer by a Cuyahoga County Grand Jury "in a conspiracy that prosecutors say involved 453 homes in Cuyahoga County and $44 million in fraudulent loans," according to a report at the time by The Plain Dealer.
Now, a more recent report by WKYC-TV3, indicates that for roughly three years before the indictment, Gofman was getting help from Cleveland Heights Housing Manager Rick Wagner – exacerbating the impact of Gofman's alleged mortgage fraud to the city and its residents.
According to the WKYC-TV3 report, Wagner isn't accused of doing anything illegal; he claims he was helping the FBI in its investigation of Gofman. But in so doing, he allowed Gofman to purchase more homes here than otherwise would have been possible. The FBI didn't comment.
Here, according to the report by WKYC investigative reporter Tom Meyer is what happened:
Condition Outsells Price Sub: In a tough market, buyers will pay a premium for a house in top condition
Whether local, regional or national, it seems there are but five topics that dominate the news these days: the 2008 presidential election, the war in Iraq, the high price of gasoline, global warming, and the foreclosure crisis.
This may be one of the few times in history when national issues feel extremely local. With the exception of an actual home invasion, a homeowner is unlikely to feel more vulnerable then when a house nearby is under foreclosure and, subsequently, boarded up.