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Development News

$3.5 million in improvements commence on Lee Road


After a few delays, the Lee Road Streetscape Improvements plan is underway in Cleveland Heights. Last Monday, May 9, the city and the Cedar-Lee Special Improvement District (SID) began a six-month project that will include street resurfacing, new sidewalks and new traffic lights on Lee Road between Corydon and Superior Roads.

"I think it's great," says Adam Fleisher, co-owner of the Wine Spot. “As a merchant, I’m really excited about it. Lee Road is a great destination place, but it needs updates.”
 
The $3.5 million project is part of a master plan that was created in 2008, just before the economy soured. The plan was taken up again in 2011 with a preliminary engineering analysis, which led to an application for public funding.
 
The city received $1.5 million from Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) and $1.6 million from Cuyahoga County, as well as $20,000 from RTA for the bus stop on the corner of Lee and Cedar Roads and $45,000 from the Ohio EPA to fund the project.
 
The Cedar-Lee SID is responsible for funding the landscaping, planters and other street furnishings. The SID funds come from merchants in the district who contribute to it.
 
After the only bid that came in 2012 was too high, the city hired CT Consultants to revise and execute the plan. S.E.T. Inc. is doing the actual construction.
 
Running north to south from Cain Park on Lee and Superior Roads to the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library just past Corydon Road, Cedar-Lee is the longest commercial district in Cleveland Heights, says SID president and owner of Zagara’s Marketplace John Zagara.
 
Lee Road has been reduced to one lane in each direction without turning lanes, and is lined with orange pylons as construction began yesterday on the west side of Lee from Superior to Coleridge.
 
On-street parking has been eliminated during construction, but Zagara says there are plenty of parking alternatives.
 
“Lee Road was designed originally [for patrons] to come up the side streets and enter through the side entrances and the back,” Zagara explains, adding that there is plenty of parking available in the lots and garage off of Silsby, Meadowbrook and Cedar.
 
The valet parking service that is available on weekends will move to side streets and the parking lots.
 
Current traffic light poles and will be replaced with poles painted hunter green or black, says Zagara, “to create a differential of the district.”
 
When the street is torn up, new electrical systems will be installed to put in LED pedestrian lighting on the sidewalks. “We placed a priority on better lighting throughout the district,” says Zagara, adding that the street becomes very dark late at night when bar patrons are leaving and other stores are closed. “We wanted to get the lighting for safety.”
 
ADA compliant drop off locations, handicap spaces and crosswalks will be added to the road once it is resurfaced.
 
The large rectangular planters along the street will be removed and replaced with other landscaping to make the sidewalks more pedestrian friendly. “Our current curb appeal is impacted by a hodge podge of street furnishings,” explains Kelley Robinson, director of the Cedar Lee SID. “We will be purchasing new planters that will complement the new street furnishings and help create a more inviting atmosphere.”
 
While the sidewalks will not necessarily be larger when portions are replaced, Robinson says the removal of the current planters will make it easier to for pedestrians to navigate.
 
Fleisher is impressed with the plan. "More sidewalks mean more seating space,” he says, referring to Wine Spot’s front patio.
 
Zagara calls some of the improvements, such as the painted light poles and landscaping, “niceties” that help the district keep up with surrounding shopping districts. We’re competing against places like Legacy Village,” he says.
 
No major improvements have been made to the district since 1983, says Robinson.
 
The six-month project should be done by October or November, Zagara says. Robinson is having maps made to show patrons the streetscape plans, which merchants can display in their shops.
 
Fleisher plans to display one at the Wine Spot. “Time will pass quickly,” he says. “It will be ready by the holidays. The people who come to Lee Road will appreciate it when it’s done.”

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 18 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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