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Guest KJP

Shaker Heights: Van Aken District Transit Oriented Development

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I hope this is true.  This is one of my favorite new developments in town for a whole host of reasons and I think it should be much bigger to be successful and I don't want to see it lose its current momentum.

 

For what it is worth, I read somewhere (can't recall where) that the developers are focusing in on the parking lot across Farnsleigh (which has been around since I was a boy...which means a long time) as the site for Phase 2.  I would rather see them develop the intersection of Chagrin and Warrensville next (and with something in the 8-10 story range) as the current arrangement (with the new temporary surface lot) makes the development look sparse and incomplete to a large extent.  This of course would not make KJP happy but I don't see any interest or momentum in regards to expanding the Blue Line (if I saw even a glimmer I might change my mind) and I would rather not see this spot remain barren land for the next 20 years for one reason or other as often happens in Cleveland (a la Public Square lot now going on 25 years).

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Doesn't have to be an either-or situation. Yes, go ahead and build at the NW corner of Warrensville and Chagrin. Build big. But design it for now AND the future. My model is the American Plaza station in San Diego. In the interim, it can be a year-round plaza, including for a farmers market, festivals or just an outdoor place to decompress from the office or a lunch spot regardless of the weather. In the future, it can be a transit station AND a year-round plaza like San Diego's (even though their weather demands less of this public realm than it would here)...

 

 

SanDiego-America_Plaza_Trolley_Station1.jpg

SanDiego-trolley-AmericanPlaza1.jpg

Edited by KJP
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^I have mixed feelings about the location of this facility.  While I guess it makes sense to be situated  right next to Thorton Park, I was hoping that the intersection would have eventually developed (with the development of the former Buick dealership across the street) into something more pedestrian friendly.

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I agree that the developers, city and RTA need to push to at leat leave the right of way open. We talk about needing more mid-low skill jobs around our transit lines to provide for better access to inner city residents. Well, there are 1000+ brand new jobs just about to open up a short mile down Northfield Road from the current terminus...

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Just now, YO to the CLE said:

I agree that the developers, city and RTA need to push to at leat leave the right of way open. We talk about needing more mid-low skill jobs around our transit lines to provide for better access to inner city residents. Well, there are 1000+ brand new jobs just about to open up a short mile down Northfield Road from the current terminus...

 

And extending south gets us to the Randall Industrial Track to Solon, which is a wide, lightly used railroad right of way. Or, we can go the east along Harvard by a couple of miles is Pinecrest with its 2,300 office and retail workers, plus a community college, a new hospital complex and a Fortune 500 headquarters along the way. Or we actually consider both.

 

If the Blue Line extension were planned today, under new federal guidelines, it would have achieved a rating high enough to win federal construction funds. Granted, GCRTA lacks the funding for the local share right now, but I'm hopeful that any new transit funding options coming along in the next couple of years will make these smaller-scale rail extensions achievable. Even a TIF from affected properties along the route might generate a significant local contribution. We have to keep the door open to future opportunities. That's what urban planning is all about.

Edited by KJP

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If funding is ever available for an expansion of the Shaker Rapid y preference would be for a spur to University Circle (you know the current cliché..."Cleveland's second downtown).  It is actually not that easy to get to UC from Shaker even though it is so close.  If there was a stop in the heart of UC and a terminus on the Cleveland Clinic campus I believe home values in Shaker and Beachwood would skyrocket.

 

Given limited funds I am less enamored with an extension of the Blue Line east.  I would be more receptive if Chagrin Highlands had turned out like I had hoped when it was first proposed in the early 90's around New Urbanism principals.  Instead it is strip malls, huge fortress office complexes and very car oriented.  If a station was located some where there currently you could not really walk very easily from place to place.

Edited by Htsguy
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The Harvard extension option was the highest rated alternative six years ago. Point is, a few things have changed since the Blue Line extension study was done -- Amazon at Randall, Pinecrest at Orange and FTA criteria for ranking the extension alternatives. RTA made a long-term statement to the developers of Van Aken about short-term land-use and policy conditions. Van Aken's developers may be responding accordingly. My goal is to get RTA to inform the city and the developers that it would like to reserve a public right of way about 40-50 feet wide from the end of the Blue Line to the NW corner of Kinsman and Warrensville for future transit extensions.

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I've been saying for years that CC and UH should bite the bullet and finance a light rail from each campus as the hub, with a spoke going Downtown, and a spoke going Uptown. Given the scale of Van Aken's ambition, it would make sense to add a spoke this way. 

 

But... I dream too big lol 

Edited by YABO713
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In case we forget RMS's guideplan. If followed, it would permanently block any transit extension.

VanAkenDistrict_RMS-TOD-siteplan.jpg

VanAkenDistrict_RMS-aerial.jpg

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a nice pull for a grocer option for VAD.  Heinens is down the street and I think something local and more boutique fits the neighborhood very well vs another Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods or earthfare.  Will shop here often

9567011F-0113-4D3E-B6E6-3BF0A269F5A7.png

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