Latest News

Severance's owner has history of violations

Namdar Realty buys struggling shopping malls, like Severance Town Center, then spends little to maintain them.

Much of Severance Town Center (STC) is owned by Namdar Realty (namdarrealtygroup.com) and is managed by its partner, Mason Asset Management. Namdar bought STC at auction for $10.4 million in 2016. 

Namdar Realty, based in Great Neck, N.Y., is family-owned. Founded in 1999, it owns several hundred shopping malls across the United States. Igal Namdar heads Namdar Realty, and Elliot Nassim, the cousin of Namdar’s wife, heads Mason Asset Management.

Namdar Realty is known for buying "B" and "C" level malls that are “distressed” and “struggling.” Many lost their anchor stores as national chains (e.g., Sears, J.C. Penney, Macy’s) reduced their number of locations or went out of business.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 11:42 AM, 01.31.2023

Latest News Releases

Fairfax Elementary Cabaret Fundraiser Returns
- CH-UH Schools, January 13, 2023 Read More
CH City Council Seeks Charter Review Commission Applicants
- City of Cleveland Heights, December 20, 2022 Read More
Mayor Seren to be interviewed on WOVU, 95.9 FM
- City of Cleveland Heights, October 26, 2022 Read More
Nighttown Reopening Updates
- Nighttown, September 19, 2022 Read More
Ohio House and Senate Candidate Forum for the Aug. 2 Primary Election
- League of Women Voters, July 11, 2022 Read More

View more news releases

Best of the Heights voting opens Feb. 1

Beginning Feb. 1, Heights residents can show their appreciation for locally owned, independent businesses by voting for their favorites in the FutureHeights 2023 Best of the Heights awards.

Since 2005, FutureHeights has conducted the Best of the Heights awards as a way to recognize the unique attributes of Heights businesses, and their contributions to the local economy.

"FutureHeights is always proud to support and celebrate our local merchants with the 'Best of the Heights' awards," said Micah Kirman, FutureHeights' interim executive director. "Our quality independent businesses add so much to the health and vitality of our community, and the incredible merchants, who operate them so well, deserve to be recognized.”

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 10:59 AM, 01.31.2023

Brennan to deliver Feb. 15 State of the City

Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan

University Heights Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan will deliver his annual State of the City address on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 6 p.m., at the Dolan Science Center auditorium on the campus of John Carroll University (JCU).

In his fifth State of the City, Brennan will update the community on multiple projects, including new municipal facilities, updating the city’s zoning code, and the fieldhouse and South Gateway projects at JCU.

Brennan will discuss the city’s commitment to sustainability, and a partnership with Power a Clean Future Ohio. 

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 11:49 AM, 01.31.2023

CH council appointment deadline nears

A special meeting of Cleveland Heights City Council, scheduled for Monday evening, Jan. 30, had a single agenda item: Appointment of a Council Member.

With the same-day cancellation of the Jan. 30 meeting, that agenda item has moved to a Feb. 2 special meeting, scheduled for 10 a.m. 

CH City Council has until Saturday, Feb. 4, to appoint a new council member to fill the seat formerly held by Josie Moore.

According to the city charter, council has 45 days in which to appoint a new council member. If council were to fail to appoint someone by the deadline, the mayor would then have 10 days in which to fill the seat.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 10:46 AM, 01.31.2023

Why the Observer isn't a traditional newspaper

The Heights Observer’s strength—and its greatest weakness—is the way we come by the information that fills its pages. Every word is an unpaid contribution, uploaded directly to our publishing system by people from the CH-UH area we serve.

It’s a strength because it results in a publication people recognize as strongly reflecting the community. It’s a weakness because we can’t operate the way a traditional newspaper would—assigning reporters to cover important issues and events. There are a lot of goings-on people need or want to know about that we never publish, simply because nobody stepped up to gather the information and write an article. And unless someone comes forward with a seven-figure endowment, it’s not likely to change.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 12:00 PM, 01.31.2023

Moore's supporters deserve similar representation

Years before climate change, environmental justice, and Vision Zero became mainstream concepts, Mary Dunbar, former Cleveland Heights council member, recognized that the environment and the health of the community are inextricably interconnected. She became an advocate for a greener and healthier Cleveland Heights.

After Ms. Dunbar’s untimely resignation from council, Josie Moore stepped in to fill the vacated seat with a passion and clarity that was reassuring and energizing. She brought fresh energy and a platform befitting a city that perceives itself as progressive and welcoming. She offered a vision for a holistic and collaborative approach to decision-making that considered the potential impact of policies and projects on the economy, housing, social equity, and the environment.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 11:56 AM, 01.31.2023

I'm sad to say goodbye to Josie Moore

Those serving in public office sacrifice a lot. Many qualified people decline to seek election for that reason. Others decide after their election that the sacrifice is too great. One of those others is Josie Moore, who recently resigned from Cleveland Heights City Council.

Moore had ideas about how CH City Hall should operate under a new system. She thought the mayor and council members need to be “willing to reach out, discuss ideas and concerns, and be responsive to each other in a spirit of collaboration and problem-solving.” She called for leadership that sees civil disagreement as “an opportunity to find pathways for improvement.” She considered “open, ongoing, and respectful communication as the key to an effective working relationship that enables the achievement of our city’s goals.”

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 11:55 AM, 01.31.2023

Cleveland Heights is 'dementia friendly'

Six years ago, at the age of 62, I was diagnosed with early onset dementia. On that fateful afternoon, my wife, Emily, and I began a journey into the wilderness of dementia, disability and discernment. We had to accept the reality of my diagnosis: I had to retire early as dean of Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland; Emily had to put our financial and legal affairs in order; and, together, we had to figure out how we were going to live with dementia.

One of the decisions we made was to return to Cleveland Heights. We gave up our newly built dream home in Detroit Shoreway for a 100-year-old house on Scarborough Road. Why? We wanted to be close to family and friends in a neighborhood where I had long-term, embedded memory. We wanted a quiet, safe, walkable community with parks and trees.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 12:00 PM, 01.31.2023

She might have been an angel

Heights Hardware, sometime in the 1970s, looking like it did in the 1940s and like it does now. I stayed in the apartment above it, with two different sets of residents.

In February 1968, I wasn’t exactly aimless; I had goals. I wasn’t hopeless; I had dreams and wishes. I wasn’t totally homeless; there were a few places where I could stay. But I certainly wasn’t grounded, or focused, or even very motivated. Too much had gone wrong.

I was only 18, but my music career had actually shown more promise when I was 16 and 17. It was stalled. I was stalled.

I was staying with a high school friend—one of just two who were still in town—a guy who really was aimless and hopeless, and had even less motivation than I did. But his wife had a job. And they had an apartment right above Heights Hardware on Coventry.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 10:55 AM, 01.31.2023

Transportation committee supports lower CH speed limits

To the Editor:

As members of the Cleveland Heights Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC), we support the reduction of speed limits on residential portions of certain streets as proposed by Mayor Seren, recommended by city council’s Public Safety and Health Committee (chaired by Council Member Larson), and passed by council.

This action by the mayor and council is consistent with the city’s Complete and Green Streets Policy, approved by council in 2018, and Council Resolution 96-2021, adopting and supporting the ideals, principles, and concepts of Vision Zero for the city.

The city’s lowering of speed limits is also consistent with policy of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 11:58 AM, 01.31.2023

Clear snow for postal carriers

The Cleveland Heights U.S. Post Office is seriously understaffed, affecting not just our deliveries, but the health and safety of the postal carriers.

They are literally burdened with long hours in rain, snow, ice and mud trying to cover unfilled carrier positions. They are working in fatiguing and stressful conditions with increased potential for injury. In the worst situations, they are subject to robberies and shootings.

Cleveland Heights residents can help ensure postal carriers’ routes are as safe and unobstructed as possible. Remember, they are working long hours, into the evenings when natural lighting is dim. Many carriers may be filling in on an unfamiliar street.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 11:54 AM, 01.31.2023

Seeking substance inside CH City Hall

On Jan. 3, we witnessed a Cleveland Heights City Council meeting that lasted an hour and seven minutes, but felt interminable.

Mayor Kahlil Seren made two brief announcements, but inexplicably did not mention the Dec. 23–24 life-threatening storm Elliott and attendant heavy snowfall, which had choked some residential streets in the city for days. Nor did he utter a word about when the Community Center, closed due to flooding caused by Elliott’s sub-zero temperatures, might reopen.

Public comments ranged from polite complaints about unplowed streets to abusively long harangues by speakers who rudely ignored reminders that they had exceeded their three-minute time limit.

During council’s comment period, some members monopolized the floor to deliver state-of-the-city addresses, grandstand about their own accomplishments, or malign their cohorts.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 11:48 AM, 01.31.2023

Funds support COVID recovery in schools

Inadequate school funding is an old and tragic story in Ohio. Those who defend this reality like to say money doesn’t matter, but the federal government has a different view. In 2021 Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and granted $130 billion in Elementary Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to states and school districts to help students “recover, succeed and thrive.”

Ohio received $4.475 billion to award to local school districts. The Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District received $17.1 million to spend by September 2024. That’s equivalent to about $1,200 a year per student, for three years.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 11:46 AM, 01.31.2023

Library earns solid rating for pandemic year 2020

Despite the challenges of COVID lockdowns throughout 2020, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System qualified for a three-star rating from the Index of Public Library Service’s publication Library Journal.

Heights Libraries was one of only three in Ohio to receive a star designation for 2020—in comparison, Ohio had 27 star libraries in Library Journal’s rankings for 2019.

Heights Libraries has earned the highest designation, five stars, in 11 out of the 15 years that Library Journal has published the ratings. (The library received a four-star rating in two of the years, and was not rated one year.)

Library Journal reports news about the library world, emphasizing public libraries, and has a nationwide circulation of 100,000.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 10:51 AM, 01.31.2023

Apply by March 15 for a FH mini-grant

Mini-grant dollars at work at Millikin Playground. [Photo: Cindie Carroll-Pankhurst]

FutureHeights is now accepting applications for its spring 2023 Neighborhoods Mini-Grants program. Applications are due March 15.

Now in its eighth year, the program offers awards of up to $1,000 for community-building projects, programs, and initiatives at the neighborhood level, in Cleveland Heights or University Heights.

Applicants are not required to have 501(c)3 nonprofit standing to be considered. FutureHeights designed the program to enable neighborhood and grassroots-level groups to have access to funding that, without the nonprofit designation, otherwise can be challenging to acquire. 

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 10:50 AM, 01.31.2023

Heights IMD and alumni celebrate 100 years

Heights musicians perform at Severance Hall. [photo by Carl Jenks]

On Saturday, Feb. 25, the Cleveland Heights High School Instrumental Music Department (IMD) will celebrate a century of instrumental music at the school.

The evening concert will feature performances by current student ensembles and, on several pieces, alumni will be invited to dust off their instruments and play along. Former band and orchestra directors will also be invited to conduct. The concert will be held in the Heights High auditorium. Community members are encouraged to join the celebration as well.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 10:52 AM, 01.31.2023

CH speed-limit reductions add negligible travel time

I’m writing in response to Alan Rapaport’s opinion, in the January issue of the Heights Observer, regarding lowering speed limits.

Mr. Rapaport claims that lowering the speed limits on five roads will cause it to “take longer to get to shops, banks, restaurants, parks, libraries, churches, and schools,” and “will encourage drivers to seek faster shortcuts on side streets.”

After reading this, I decided to use Google Maps and some arithmetic to find out how much longer it will take.

From one border to the other, the lengths of Taylor Road, Lee Road, and Euclid Heights Boulevard are all about 2.7 miles. If one could drive all the way across the city without encountering stop lights or traffic problems, the trip would take 6.5 minutes at 25 mph, and 4.6 minutes at 35 mph.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 11:53 AM, 01.31.2023

Help rebuild Coventry playground

I first met Coventry playground on a fine July morning in 2000. 

Fate, in the form of a loan-repayment contract for my medical-school borrowings, had brought me to Cleveland from Seattle. My wife and I bought a home on Berkshire Road, not far from Coventry school. We flew to Cleveland with a few suitcases, our two young boys, and two cats. Mix-ups delayed the moving truck, which included the truly important stuff like tricycles, Legos and toys. What to do with these rambunctious boys stuck in an empty home?

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 10:48 AM, 01.31.2023

CH artist unspools time and motion

Eddie's Irises, composite photograph by Greg Donley.

In announcing a new exhibition of work by artist Greg Donley, Foothill Galleries owner Michael Weil wrote, "We get the sense [Greg] often is looking down and up and side to side, smiling, looking closely, historically, conscientiously, joyfully, photographically. That is the genesis of his 'still films,' as he calls them."

Still Moving, G.M. Donley's third exhibition at Foothill Galleries, will run through the month of February, and into at least mid-March. (A closing date has not been set.) Foothill Galleries is located at 2450 Fairmount Blvd., Suite M291.

The show will open on Thursday, Jan. 26, with an morning preview, 8–10 a.m., and an evening reception, 5–7:30 p.m.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 11:24 AM, 01.23.2023

Library welcomes new board member Soto-Schwartz

Melissa M. Soto-Schwartz

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System is pleased to announce the appointment of its newest board member, Melissa M. Soto-Schwartz. Her term began in January.

Soto-Schwartz, a professor of history and women’s and gender studies at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C), has lived in Cleveland Heights for 27 years.

Her seven-year term on the library board will end in 2029. Soto-Schwartz replaces outgoing board president Gabe Crenshaw, whose service ended in December 2022.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 11:19 AM, 01.17.2023

CRC applications due Jan. 17; LWV interviews CH council applicants

Cleveland Heights City Council extended its original deadline for applications for the city's new Charter Review Commission (CRC), setting a new deadline of Tuesday, Jan. 17, at 5 p.m. To apply to serve on the CRC, fill out the application at www.clevelandheights.org, and include a résumé.

Council has not ruled out extending the CRC deadline further; that discussion is on the agenda for its Jan. 17 Council Committee of the Whole meeting. As of Jan. 15, there were 19 applicants for the nine CRC positions.

As of Jan. 17, CH City Council is weighing 24 applications for the open council seat formerly held by Josie Moore, who resigned in December. (There were 26 applicants originally, but two have withdrawn from consideration.)

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 9:30 AM, 01.17.2023

Bye Bye Birdie: UH suspends its Twitter account

At the last University Heights City Council meeting of 2022, Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan announced the city will suspend use of its Twitter account, citing concern with the social media platform’s recent alarming changes.

“University Heights is a diverse and welcoming city,” Brennan reported to council. “And while we need not share all the same values and opinions to live together harmoniously, we do need to share the common value of mutual respect.

“Hate has no home in University Heights.”

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 9:29 AM, 01.17.2023

CH sets Jan. 6 deadline for council vacancy and CRC applicants

[UPDATE: Cleveland Heights has extended the deadline for Charter Review Commission applicants. The new deadline is Tuesday, Jan. 17, 5 p.m.]

Cleveland Heights residents interested in filling the city council vacancy, or serving on the city's Charter Review Commission (CRC), have until 5 p.m. on Jan. 6 to submit an application along with their résumé.

The city has posted the applications on its website, www.clevelandheights.gov: CH City Council application, CH Charter Review Commission application.

Josie Moore resigned from CH City Council on Dec. 16, creating the vacancy. She was elected in November 2021, to serve the remainder of the unexpired council term of Mary Dunbar. That term ends on Dec. 31, 2023; the seat will be on the ballot this coming November.

According to the city charter, council has 45 days in which to appoint a new council member. (If council were to fail to appoint someone by the deadline, the mayor would then have 10 days in which to fill the seat.)

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 2:25 PM, 01.02.2023

Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 1-3-23

JANUARY 3, 2023, regular meeting

 

  • Public comments
  • Clerk of council report
  • Mayor’s report
  • Council actions
  • Council member comments
  • Committee of the Whole

 

Present were Mayor Kahlil Seren, Council President Melody Joy Hart, Council Vice President Craig Cobb, and Council Members Tony Cuda, Gail Larson, Anthony Mattox, Jr., and Davida Russell. Also present were Addie Balester, clerk of council, and William Hanna, law director. The meeting ran for one hour.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 2:55 PM, 01.13.2023

Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education meeting highlights 1-3-23

JANUARY 3, 2023, organizational and regular meetings

 

  • Election of officers
  • Treasurer’s report
  • Committee assignments
  • Board comments and announcements

 

Present were President Malia Lewis, Dan Heintz, James Posch, Jodi Sourini, and Beverly Wright. Also present were Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby and Treasurer Scott Gainer. The organizational meeting for election of officers was followed immediately by the regular meeting. The organizational meeting lasted about 20 minutes, the regular meeting was about 45 minutes, and the entire session was 1 hour 5 minutes.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 2:56 PM, 01.13.2023

University Heights City Council meeting highlights 1-3-23

JANUARY 3, 2023, regular meeting

 

  • Staff reports
  • Mayor’s report
  • Council actions
  • Moving back to City Hall
  • Committee reports

 

Present were Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan, Vice Mayor Michelle Weiss, and Council Members Barbara Blankfeld, Christopher Cooney, Justin Gould, Brian J. King, John P. Rach, and Sheri Sax. Also present were Kelly Thomas, clerk of council; Luke McConville, law director; and Dennis Kennedy, finance director. The meeting ran for one hour and twenty minutes.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 2:53 PM, 01.13.2023

Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 12-27-22

DECEMBER 27, 2022 - regular meeting

 

  • Insurance contract

 

Present were Mayor Kahlil Seren, Council President Melody Joy Hart, Council Vice President Craig Cobb, and Council Members Tony Cuda, Gail Larson, and Anthony Mattox, Jr. Davida Russell was not present. Also present were Addie Balester, clerk of council, and Laure Wagner, assistant law director. The meeting was very short - three minutes - with only one agenda item.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 2:59 PM, 01.13.2023

Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education meeting highlights 12-20-22

DECEMBER 20, 2022, special meeting

 

  • Library board appointment
  • Recognitions and awards
  • Superintendent’s report
  • Treasurer’s report
  • Title IX expansion
  • Martin Luther King, Jr., essay contest
  • School facilities announcements

 

Present were President Malia Lewis, Dan Heintz, James Posch, Jodi Sourini, and Beverly Wright. Also present were Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby and Treasurer Scott Gainer. The meeting started at 5:30 p.m. to interview and appoint Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library Board Trustees. The board then went into executive session, and the regular work session subsequently began at 7 p.m. and adjourned at 8:50 p.m.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 2:58 PM, 01.13.2023

University Heights City Council meeting highlights 12-19-22

DECEMBER 19, 2022 - regular meeting

 

  • Mayor’s report
  • Finance committee
  • Cleveland Kosher Food Pantry 
  • University Square MOU
  • CIC funding
  • 2023 Budget
  • Aleksander Shul lawsuits 
  • Other council action
  • Relocation of council meeting to its chambers
  • Charter review commission

 

Present were Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan, Vice Mayor Michelle Weiss, and Council Members Barbara Blankfeld, Christopher Cooney, Justin Gould, Brian J. King, John P. Rach, and Sheri Sax. Also present were Kelly Thomas, clerk of council; Luke McConville, law director; and Dennis Kennedy, finance director. The meeting ran four hours and 15 minutes.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 2:54 PM, 01.13.2023