The University Square site should remain a commercial district.
I do not favor apartments at the site, which is one proposal. I would rather see existing or surrounding apartment sites redeveloped for the purpose of bringing modern market rate apartments to our city rather than lose a central commercial district.
Macy’s and Target own their real estate. Indeed Macy’s and its predecessors have had a presence on this site since 1958, when a former golf course was redeveloped into May on the Heights, May Company’s second suburban department store. Building on their presence at the site, the rest should be cleared and redeveloped, including that ill thought, dark and disinvitational parking garage.
As mayor, I would hold public meetings, take public comments from our residents, and commission a market study, analyzing what is nearby, what is missing, and for what there is demand. With that, I would work with the bondholders to find a developer who would bring about this collective vision, full of the businesses this city demands. The majority bondholder is based in San Francisco, and we should not assume that they know better than we do either our community or what would succeed here.
What might that look like? We are an increasingly younger city, full of college students, young families, and young professionals. With that in mind, I believe the redevelopment of University Square should promote an active lifestyle and be full of entertainment options. A place to congregate, not unlike Legacy Village, but with pedestrian and bicycle access. The destination might include activities such as bowling, laser tag, indoor golf, wall climbing, and ax throwing, together with a brewery, winery, gastropub or other dining experiences, together with some boutique and specialty retail. These are attractions that will be of interest to people of all ages, both within the city and from outside of our city.
But we must not forget the larger picture. We need a real master plan in this city, and we need to update our decades old zoning code. The redevelopment of University Square must be put into a context of what we envision for our entire city over the long term. It should be thought out in the context of the Wiley property and Cedar Center, bookended by Cedar-Taylor to the west and Cedar-Green to the east, together with Warrensville-Fairmount to the south.
The bottom line is that the present configuration that opened in 2003 is a failure. We cannot afford to get it wrong this time.
More thoughts on economic redevelopment here.
What do you think?