Cleveland Heights moves forward with Cedar-Lee redevelopment plan

 A retail district redevelopment project in Cleveland Heights deemed by backers as “transformative” is making steady progress, according to city officials.

Late last month, Cleveland Heights City Council authorized a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for a $50 million improvement of the Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook site. Set to comprise 4.8 acres on the corner of Lee and Meadowbrook Roads, the development will offer a mix of retail, restaurant, and office space. The current site consists of surface and covered parking areas as well as a swath of vacant land.

Cleveland Heights director of economic development Tim BolandCity administrators are finalizing their vision with project partner Flaherty & Collins Properties, the developer also constructing the $80 million Ascent at Top of the Hill slated for launch in summer 2022.

Cleveland Heights director of economic development Tim Boland says the Cedar-Lee development agreement should be ready for city council review sometime after Labor Day. A pair of consulting companies—Newcomb-Desmond & Associates and WSP—are helping the suburb evaluate parking and traffic conditions as the plan edges closer to completion.

The development spans the vacant lot at 2223 Lee Road—a surface parking lot—and the parking garage off Tullamore Road running behind Lee Road establishments between Tullamore and Cedar Roads.

On a larger scale, the project realizes the goal of previous planning efforts, among them Cleveland Heights’ 2017 master plan.

“Redeveloping the site for mixed use has always been the long-term goal,” says Boland. “This is an area with tremendous potential for attracting new residents and investment and increasing the economic vibrancy of the Cedar-Lee district.”

Cleveland Heights planning director Eric ZamftProjected to bring upwards of 300 new residents to the community, the proposal calls for more than 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail along with 200 to 225 luxury apartments. While there are no specific details yet on street-level retail, Cleveland Heights planning director Eric Zamft says non-traditional maker spaces or other entrepreneur-attracting developments are a possibility.

“It’s of the utmost importance that those ground-floor spaces be active,” Zamft says. “Maker or other community spaces are part of that goal.”

New commercial and retail construction is planned on the Meadowbrook and Lee portion of the site, with possible additional retail north of Tullamore and Cedar. The currently proposed combination of buildings, public spaces, parking, and infrastructure equates to an attractive investment opportunity for a community already awaiting Top of the Hill and the College Club renovation and townhome project.

“We have a lot of momentum—the city is trying to put forth the approach that we’re open for business, and new investment and redevelopment are responsible for that,” says Boland.

As the local business community continues to emerge from pandemic-related shutdowns, the Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook effort can create options for individuals interested in aging in place or moving to an exciting new community.

“Having a transformative project at that site is a great opportunity for the city,” Boland says. “You don’t often find a 4.8-acre site in the heart of a successful district that already has a parking garage nearby. This project is aligned to help the existing district build on its past success.”

Read more articles by Douglas J. Guth.

Douglas J. Guth is a Cleveland Heights-based freelance writer and journalist. In addition to being senior contributing editor at FreshWater, his work has been published by Midwest Energy News, Kaleidoscope Magazine and Think, the alumni publication of Case Western Reserve University. A die-hard Cleveland sports fan, he also writes for the cynically named (yet humorously written) blog Cleveland Sports Torture. At FreshWater, he contributes regularly to the news and features departments, as well as works on regular sponsored series features.