City links: Cleveland Heights gets ambitious with Taylor Tudor reconstruction proposal

The City of Cleveland Heights is always seeking to link its assets located in the eight-square-mile suburb, and the latest opportunity to connect has come with the proposed Taylor Tudor Plaza project on the city’s east side.

The 1928 Taylor Tudors consists of three three-story brick Tudor buildings, bounded by South Taylor Road and Superior Park Drive, with ground-floor retail space and two floors of residential units.

However, would-be project lead WXZ Development Corp. is not interested in merely refurbishing the trio of buildings that comprise the parcel, notes Cleveland Heights Mayor Kahlil Seren.

With the blessing of Seren and other city leaders, Fairview Park-based WXZ views the $37 million Taylor Tudor revitalization as a jumping-off point for a vibrant and connected neighborhood surrounding Cain Park.  

Taylor Tudors reconstruction renderingTaylor Tudors reconstruction rendering“We’ve considered the site’s close proximity to Cain Park and its historic role as a business district,” WXZ vice president of development Matthew Wymer wrote in a 2021 submission proposal. “We believe we can help create a welcoming, diverse neighborhood [that] celebrates the existing history and culture while attracting new energy to the district.”

Plans for Taylor Tudor Plaza continue as Cleveland Heights negotiates a formal development agreement with WXZ to renovate 44 currently unoccupied apartment units and reactivate approximately 23,000 square feet of commercial and retail space. Officials hope to finalize the agreement by the end of this year.

This is only the beginning of a larger-scale vision for Taylor Tudor, say proponents.

The full revitalization encompasses a section along South Taylor Road between Superior Park Drive and Taylor Road Synagogue in Cleveland Heights’ Stadium Square Historic District -named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2020 for the 1927 plan to build a 14,000-seat football stadium on the seven-acre parcel.

Stadium Square, ca. 1930Stadium Square, ca. 1930In its final form, the proposal would transform the Taylor Tudors into a commercial hub that links to the synagogue, Cain Park, and other Cleveland Heights resources.

City officials are optimistic about a plan that looks beyond the narrow scope of rehab and reconstruction. In March, Cleveland Heights received $5.9 million in historic preservation tax credits from the Ohio Department of Development to support the restoration of the historic site.

The inclusion of Taylor Road Synagogue upon resolution of its ongoing foreclosure proceeding may add a cultural center and winter entertainment venue when Cain Park goes dark for the season. This type of large-scale thinking drew Cleveland Heights to WXZ in the first place, says Seren.  

“We had some good responses to the historic preservation piece,” says Seren, “but ultimately, the developer we selected provided something more creative that we could not turn our backs on.”   

Building up the neighborhood

The current $37 million proposal expands to $100 million when including the synagogue as well as the Taylor Commons shopping plaza across the street from the Taylor Tudors.

WXZ has proposed the commons as a mixed-use site with 208 apartments, a 312-space parking deck, and 37,000 square feet of commercial and retail use. The company already has a long relationship with Taylor Commons owner Paran, say Cleveland Heights officials.

The identical three-story Tudor buildings that were built between 1927 and 1929 will be rehabbed to their historic uses as apartments and street-level retail.

Taylor Tudors reconstruction renderingTaylor Tudors reconstruction rendering One-bedroom units will range from 650 to 720 square feet, with two-bedroom apartments built out at 1,000 to 1,100 square feet. The southern-most Tudor building has been vacant for seven years, though a few tenants remained on the northern portion until the last year or two, says Cleveland Heights assistant economic development director Brian Anderson.

As a potential community hangout, visitors will have the ability to frequent coffee shops and other retail shops before walking to Cain Park for an event.

Tying the Tudors to the rest of the Stadium Square District can maximize the benefits of both properties, says Saren. The connection can also drive additional investment to the $80 million Ascent at Top of the Hill mixed-use development on Cedar Hill as well as The Marquee at Cedar Lee project that broke ground in May.

“We can’t just rely on momentum; we have to keep pushing with an emphasis on progress,” Seren says. “We could have just rehabilitated those buildings, but now we’re bringing large portions of the business district into the 21st Century.”

Alex Quintana, whose Quintana’s Barber & Dream Spa has been at 2200 South Taylor Road since 2003, says he hopes a bustling Taylor Tudors redevelopment sparks progress citywide—a scope that ideally includes the long-struggling Severance Town Center property.

“Look at Van Aken, now it’s the Van Aken District,” says Quintana. “Taylor Tudors could make for a larger conversation around a bigger project like Severance. Taylor Road can be a measuring stick for this administration when it comes to projects going forward.”

In the meantime, the city plans to host community meetings about the Taylor Tudors proposal. Although Seren says he understands concerns about change, he looks forward to bringing residents on board an ambitious new development.

“Cleveland Heights is a progressive city, but there are strong thoughts of the status quo over the positive possibilities of change,” he says. “It’s about overcoming that sense of risk aversion and taking advantage of the opportunities ahead of us.”

Douglas J. Guth
Douglas J. Guth

About the Author: 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 Crain’s Cleveland Business, Ideastream, and Middle Market Growth. At FreshWater, he contributes regularly to the news and features departments, as well as works on regular sponsored series features.