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South Euclid sells Cedar Center property to developer; incoming tenants named

Jeff Piorkowski, Sun News
October 25, 2011

SOUTH EUCLID — The names of more businesses coming to Cedar Center North have been released in the aftermath of the city’s sale of just over seven acres to developer Peter Rubin’s Coral Co. and its partner DeVille Developments of Canton.

Rubin stated after the Oct. 24 City Council meeting at which council approved the sale, that Panera Bread will be coming to Cedar Center, and that the popular China Gate Chinese restaurant, which had been located in the old Cedar Center, will return. Others known to be coming in the first phase of the new Cedar Center’s development are eateries Five Guys Burgers, Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches and Chipotle.
Rubin would not yet divulge the identities of the other tenants to come, stating merely that they are an Italian restaurant, coffee house, women’s salon and a pet supplies store. In all, he said, these stores make up about two-thirds of the businesses coming. “We’ll announce more in 30-60 days,” he said.
The sale agreement

The city sold the property to Rubin for approximately $1.4 million. Community Services Director Keith Benjamin said that that price is but one part of a package that will see the city realize $3 million-$3.5 million for the sale. Also included will be tax increment finance money.

TIF projects have the developer make payments to a special fund equal to the expected tax liability. This money is then used by the city to pay for infrastructure improvements at the site.
In addition, the developers will give to the city $5,000 per year for five years to fund city events (arts and crafts fairs, band concerts) to be held at a public green space at Cedar Center. The developers are also paying to establish that public green space.

A long road traveled For Rubin, Mayor Georgine Welo and longtime council members, the sale meant a long-term goal had been reached. “It’s easy to have a vision when you’re sitting at a Planning Commission meeting in 1991,” Welo said of her vision for changing the blighted Cedar Center 20 years ago while serving on that commission. “I never thought I would have the opportunity (beginning) in 2004 as mayor to make it happen.”
Speaking to Rubin during the council meeting, Welo said, “You came to me at the beginning (of redevelopment talks) and said, ‘Mayor, I want to build Cedar Center.’ Tonight, Peter, you’re going to build Cedar Center.’”
Rubin signed a deal with the city three years ago. Before that, however, he was not among the city’s first choices of developers, as out-of-state developers were initially tabbed. Those deals fell through for various reasons.

“We were the bridesmaid twice before,” Rubin said. Rubin, in fact, made a deal in 1998 with the Matz family, owners of a large chunk of the former Cedar Center, to buy property there for redevelopment.
“There were 11 different owners at the time, and we were never able to move on,” he said. “The private sector could not assemble properties on that site.”

Rubin said public sector help was needed, and he thanked Welo and council members for maintaining the course despite criticism. That criticism came from those who questioned the $16-million-plus the city paid for Cedar Center, and the delays in making anything happen there.

In the summer, GFS Marketplace began building on an outparcel. That store opened last week. Bob Evans Restaurant two weeks ago announced it would open next spring on another outparcel. The city sold the land directly to GFS and Bob Evans, but Coral will lease property to the businesses just announced.
Rubin also spoke of his sadness over the Oct. 22 death of Sanford “Corky” Kurland, a co-owner of the renowned Corky and Lenny’s restaurant. The original Corky and Lenny’s was opened at Cedar Center, and closed there in 1994.

Speaking about the Cedar Center redevelopment, Rubin said to city leaders, “You are allowing new legends to begin.” Veteran Ward 2 Councilman Moe Romeo called the occasion “monumental,” while Romeo’s longtime colleague, Ward 3 Councilman Ed Icove spoke of the years of planning leading to the redevelopment.
As examples of the blight at the old shopping center, Icove spoke of 1996, when the movie theater there moved, and of April, 2004 when the fire department found the movie theater building unsafe and ordered its demolition.
“On June 12, 2000, as a team, the city developed a plan for this unique gateway,” Icove said. “The plan was enacted as the ‘Cedar Center District’ and was based upon our Cedar Center Development Plan (of November, 1999).”

That plan called for permitting and encouraging a mix of uses at Cedar Center, providing increased opportunities for economic development, and establishing guidelines to reinforce the district’s “sense of place.”
“The legislation before us (to sell to the developers) is exactly this type of development,” Icove said.
Benjamin said that one, or possibly two phases remain, as the city will sell more Cedar Center parcels.
“This (sale and announcement of tenants) creates a synergy that will, hopefully, increase the value of the property we still have to sell,” Benjamin said.