A final, critical piece of funding has now fallen into place for the City of Shaker Heights'
long-awaited Van Aken District plan. The city recently announced that it had been awarded $4.4 million from the Ohio Department of Public Works (ODPW). That, on top of $14 million the city already has assembled, will allow Shaker to proceed with Phase I late next year.
Phase I of the project will reconfigure the confusing, much-maligned junction of Van Aken, Warrensville and Chagrin roads into a traditional, four-way intersection. The road reconfiguration is just the first step in a larger plan to redevelop this prominent space as a vibrant, mixed-use downtown for the city.
"This vision was shaped by residents," says Joyce Braverman, Planning Director for the City of Shaker Heights. "One of our planning meetings was held during a snowstorm, and we had 120 people show up. They didn't just sit and listen, they sat at tables and helped us to design what the streets would look like."
In addition to the ODPW award, Phase I is being funded by $2.3 million from the City of Shaker Heights, $4 million from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), $7 million from the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, a $500,000 federal appropriation, $500,000 from the Federal Highway Administration and $500,000 from the Cuyahoga County Department of Public Works. In addition to the reconfiguration, there will also be improvements to transit access, pedestrian facilities and streetscapes, including tree planting. Prominent, new crosswalks will improve the pedestrian experience while reducing wait times and making the district easier and safer to navigate.
As Phase I is being completed, the city will continue to move forward on later phases of the plan, including working with RTA to extend the Blue Line rapid transit and seeking a master developer for parcels of land owned by the city and private developers. Shaker Heights ultimately envisions a mixed-use district comprised of 500 new housing units, 160,000 square feet of new retail space and 250,000 square feet of office space and community green space.
Source: Joyce Braverman
Writer: Lee Chilcote