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Developer of Cedar Center North in South Euclid shows plans to city’s planning commission

By Jeff Piorkowski, Sun News
May 02, 2011

SOUTH EUCLID — Developer Peter Rubin unveiled a plan for the Cedar Center North shopping center his Coral Co. is developing off Cedar Road and, after hearing critiques from members of the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission, it was back to the drawing board.

Rubin, Coral Co.’s president, showed and talked about the site plan at an informal meeting of the commission April 28. After the commission had its say and following the meeting, Rubin said the recommendations would be taken into consideration as future plans are drawn.“Our team will get right back to work on it tomorrow morning,” he said.

The site plans must be approved by the commission and City Council before construction work can take place on Phase One of the project, a large phase that accounts for building in the center of the property.
Construction on GFS, a food market, has already begun on the west end of the development on a portion of the property that is not part of the first phase.

Keeping things moving Rubin wants to keep the project moving forward, stating that he is looking to start construction on Phase One in August and have stores open by this time next year. He said that three-fourths of the 64,550 square feet of retail/restaurant space that will make up the first phase is already committed to future business occupants. “We’ve already done 30 plans,” he said upon showing the site plan to the commission. “We keep tugging at it and it may just be that it’s still not right.”

The first phase plan, covering 7¾ acres, has a row of five retail stores along the back of the site (to the north of Stanhope Road, which cuts through the site), the largest measuring 12,000 square feet. There are two restaurants that anchor either end of the first phase boundaries, right along the front of the development at Cedar Road.

Rubin said two restaurants are already committed to occupy these sites and that both plan to include outdoor dining spaces. There is a third restaurant planned in the space halfway between these two restaurants and in the center of the front parking area.

“Walkability was an important factor to us,” Rubin said, stating an intention to make walking easy between Cedar Center on the south, University Heights, side of the road (where Whole Foods is an anchor) and Cedar Center North. But commission member Tracie Zamiska was critical of the site plan, stating that a pedestrian must first cross Cedar Road, not always an easy task, and then walk through the parking lot area that makes up a great deal of the frontage in the Cedar Center North plan to get to its stores.

Zamiska and other commission members appeared to be underwhelmed by the public greenspace included in the site plan, space that the city has heralded as being an important part of the development as it will serve as host to public functions. The site plan has this greenspace located at the end of the main drive leading into Cedar Center North from Cedar Road. It measures 150 feet wide and 30-40 feet. The public space is situated in what would be the front yard of an 8,000-square-foot retail building.

Give the people what they want

Zamiska said she and residents attended design charrettes in which residents gave ideas to Coral as to what they wanted to see at Cedar Center North, including the type of greenspace wanted.
“I was at those charrettes,” Zamiska said after seeing Coral’s plan for greenspace. “Why did I waste my afternoons? This public space is not what the people wanted. You have to cross a driveway to get to it.”
The site plan is required to contain at least 20 percent total greenspace. Commission member Andre Reynolds didn’t like the way much of that greenspace was spotted throughout the first phase site.
“I don’t think greenspace is just a parking buffer,” he said, noting how much of the greenery came at the ends and sides of parking rows. “Some additional greenspace would be a selling point to this development.”
Commission Chairman Art Goddard said too much of the plan caters to cars, and not enough to pedestrians and bicyclists.

Looking at the site plan Goddard said, “The grid plan for cars jumps out at us. I want to see the grid plan for pedestrians and bike traffic jump out at us.” Zamiska, who formerly worked as a city inspector, said that this development must turn out to be a good one because it has to prove something to residents.
“I’ve talked to a lot of people,” she said. “Nobody in the community thinks this will be successful.”
Rubin said that with so many spaces committed to retailers and his company’s insistence on getting it done right, Cedar Center North will be a success.

While another meeting to discuss site plans was not scheduled, Goddard said he would like to soon set up a schedule so that plans will move along.