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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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Does anyone know if the Market Hall (specifically Rising Star) is open yet? They haven't been very good with advertising, only saying coming in "December" - which isn't helpful since we are halfway thru December already... 

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I've been wondering the same thing, mainly with Brassica.  I don't believe Brassica is open yet, as their website still says coming soon and recently on Facebook they posted that they were still hiring.  Then again, on the VAD website, it doesn't say when they are opening, which for other stores like Mitchell's seems to indicate they are already open.

 

Also, does anybody know where Nature's Oasis will be located?  Is it going where Fresh Market was going to be located?  Or is it going to be west of Warrensville Center with everything else?

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Banter is the only food option open so far in the Food Hall. Our family got dinner there Sunday night. Quality was as good as Gordon Square location. Rising Star counter is still under construction and looks like it has a few weeks of work to go. Per the guys at Banter, the next option to open will be the pasta location. Brassica to open in 2019. The space is still a shell.

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I work upstairs, there was another restaurant operating in there today, but I didn't have time to stop down and learn more. I'll keep everyone posted. 

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Had lunch at Banter over the weekend - pretty good. Also got coffee at Rising Star, which is now open (!!!). The market hall is really a cool space, with an eclectic group of different seating options throughout, from traditional tables, to couches, to a terraced set of stairs. The different small vendor stands and shops that open into the interior give it the feel of a traditional marketplace, but with a relaxing atmosphere. Needless to say, I will likely be here quite a bit.

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VAD scheduled openings:

 

- Restore - 4/5

- Michael’s Genuine - 4/8

- Brassica - 4/12

- District Art Gallery - 6/1

- Nature’s Oasis - 6/1

 

- Shinola + Sawyers Restaurant ‘ALIVE’ are opening this summer. Official announcements will be made soon.

 

 

Edited by ParklandBradley

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On 3/21/2019 at 1:25 PM, ParklandBradley said:

 

Yup, like they said.  Just saw also this morning.  

I love Shinola.  I wish they were placing the Store on Shaker Sq. or Downtown.

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On ‎4‎/‎7‎/‎2019 at 9:09 AM, MyTwoSense said:

I love Shinola.  I wish they were placing the Store on Shaker Sq. or Downtown.

 

They previous tried this type of retail on Shake Square and it failed.  I guess it didn't cater to enough of the residents to the west. 

 

Plus, remember it is owned by the Coral Company. 

 

Their biggest leasing accomplishment in the past year has been to land the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center in one of the prominent empty spaces.  This is wrong on so many levels.     

Edited by ParklandBradley
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7 hours ago, ParklandBradley said:

 

They previous tried this type of retail on Shake Square and it failed.  I guess it didn't cater to enough of the residents to the west. 

 

Plus, remember it is owned by the Coral Company. 

 

Their biggest leasing accomplishment in the past year has been to land the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center in one of the prominent empty spaces.  This is wrong on so many levels.     

I've lived on SS a thousand years....don't remind me. :classic_sad:   If  had the money to buy the Square.   Le Sigh.  A guy can dream...right?

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Michael Schwartz's restaurant at the VAD is now open this weekend. Food and service is amazing. Cuisine is very Miami-like with light dishes of seafood and vegetables. I've been to his restaurants at the Raleigh hotel in Miami Beach and his branch of Filia in the Baha Mar resort in the Bahamas and this location has the same quality. I live in Shaker Hts and this is now our new warm weather fine dining place to complement our frequent trips to Fire. 

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Any possibility RTA will get off their duffs and preserve the rapid right of way through this project?

 

Also, how does it win a planning award without preserving mass transit right of way?

Edited by Terdolph

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I've been pushing RTA to pass a resolution that is already written for them in order to preserve the right of way through to the Northwest corner of Chagrin and Warrensville. However the board and staff have not done anything with the draft resolution. They are hell bent on limiting themselves for the next 100 years because they don't have any money at this very second to build a Blue Line extension.

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6 hours ago, KJP said:

I've been pushing RTA to pass a resolution that is already written for them in order to preserve the right of way through to the Northwest corner of Chagrin and Warrensville. However the board and staff have not done anything with the draft resolution. They are hell bent on limiting themselves for the next 100 years because they don't have any money at this very second to build a Blue Line extension.

Hard to believe, but I believe it.

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12 minutes ago, Mendo said:

Doesn't appear there is any interest in adopting KJP's draft resolution. Here is the marketing brochure for "Van Aken South"

 

https://images2.loopnet.com/d2/p47nDGlv9R0_7GzBBiR95ysNXrSqdh7ihzyMfDBKwj8/document.pdf

 

van_aken_south1.jpg

van_aken_south3.jpg

van_aken_south2.jpg

I know this is early days and very much conceptual at this point but not loving the siting for the proposed grocery store, especially surface parking fronting Warrensville.  In fact I would like to see more apartments on this corner, probably over retail.

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42 minutes ago, Htsguy said:

I know this is early days and very much conceptual at this point but not loving the siting for the proposed grocery store, especially surface parking fronting Warrensville.  In fact I would like to see more apartments on this corner, probably over retail.

 

The city was pushing hard to get Fresh Market to move their proposed store up to front Warrensville, instead of it being set back with parking like is shown there. Last I heard though, Fresh Market pulled out of the development completely, so perhaps there will be an opportunity to reimagine that site plan if another tenant wants to go into that spot? 

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Not sure how current those plans are (I thought the idea for a grocery store there was dead, period), but I really don't like how Warrensville is treated as a back alley. Its going to end up as nothing but parking garages and loading docks lining it on that side unless these plans change. Granted the other side of the street isn't friendly from a pedestrian aspect as it is, but denying any future of activation on the west side does nothing to encourage it on the east side.

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The site plan definitely isn't new. First time I've seen the conceptual massing though. Not that it means it's new either I guess.

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By the way...I wonder who thought it was a good idea at the city to allow that rock climbing facility on that tight lot at the northeast corner of Warrensville and Farnsleigh?  I feel sorry for the tenants of the Golfview Apartments who have to stare at a huge blank wall 15 feet from their windows.

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18 hours ago, TPH2 said:

 

The city was pushing hard to get Fresh Market to move their proposed store up to front Warrensville, instead of it being set back with parking like is shown there. Last I heard though, Fresh Market pulled out of the development completely, so perhaps there will be an opportunity to reimagine that site plan if another tenant wants to go into that spot? 

 

Fresh Market, in general, has been closing stores and exiting states. I shopped at the store on occasion for cuts and seafood but always found other staples to be vastly more expensive than even Whole Foods. A Giant Eagle Market District would be amazing.

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Are there enough transit advocates left  in Cleveland who could organize themselves and call RTA to a public meeting about preserving the right-of- way for the future? 

 

20 hours ago, Mendo said:

Doesn't appear there is any interest in adopting KJP's draft resolution. Here is the marketing brochure for "Van Aken South"

 

https://images2.loopnet.com/d2/p47nDGlv9R0_7GzBBiR95ysNXrSqdh7ihzyMfDBKwj8/document.pdf

 

van_aken_south1.jpg

van_aken_south3.jpg

van_aken_south2.jpg

 

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There are two public comment sessions at each RTA board meeting. The first deals with subjects on that meeting's agenda. The next public comment session is on anything, but they have to be kept to 2 minutes or less.

 

The next RTA board meeting is:

 

Board and Committee Meetings

Tuesday, May 14, 2019 - 9:00am to 12:00pm

 

Please keep your comments brief and respectful.

 

Here is All Aboard Ohio's proposed resolution (with cover letter): http://freepdfhosting.com/6e8a272766.pdf

 

How fast is the situation changing in the Blue Line extension study area? Since we wrote that resolution last fall, it has already fallen out of date. It could be amended to include some new projects, including the expanded UH Ahuja Hospital in Highland Hills or the $80 million Northfield Town Center Development (Phase II) on 22+ acres of land in Warrensville Heights. The Van Aken District, the Amazon Fulfillment Center, Pinecrest, etc. --- none of these projects were under serious consideration (or at all) when the Blue Line extension was studied a decade ago. Not only should RTA urge the preservation of a right of way for a future extension of the Blue Line. It should re-study the rail extension under the FTA's new New Starts criteria (which would have been favorable to a Blue Line extension had it been studied a few years later) and with the changed reality of the study area.

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On 10/24/2018 at 10:10 AM, Htsguy said:

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.

 

Good points.  I've been saying for awhile that both the Green and Blue lines don't need to go downtown, especially if you put better transferring facilities at Shaker Square or better yet somewhere the Red Line can join in too.   One or the other can go to the Clinic.   Which is the second biggest employment concentration in NE Ohio, IIRC.

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I have a few thoughts on this development phase as a Shaker resident. Didn't want my first post to be about this, but so be it:

 

-  I certainly would hope the actual Van Aken South building looks nothing like that concept, as that is hideous. Anyway, I agree with others that its crazy to think they could continue to turn their back to Warrensville Rd. While I don't necessarily think it needs patios, it certainly shouldn't be treated as a garage and dumpster Rd. It should have ground floor retail access built up to the sidewalk wrapping a garage.

-  In regards to Blue Line being cut off, of course it absolutely needs to be extended as we all agree. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm not as concerned by this building. I would anticipate that if the blue line were to ever be expanded it would be quite a few years into the future with the rate things are done around here. I would think by then, Van Aken phase 4/5 could be in the offing which tears down and redesigns the Walgreens strip. Couldn't the blue line re-route south parallel to this new phase 3 building / west of new road and come possibly as an L over to the south side of Chagrin at the intersection? Maybe phase 5 includes an elevated station in the new building? Ok I'm getting carried away. The biggest issue may be the design of the new Wendy's currently, inexplicably being allowed to rebuild on this prime corner! There was always going to be a design issue for RTA crossing thru this major intersection particularly at a diagonal. Don't know, just some thoughts.

- The grocery lot I believe is really just a placeholder design wise until they find someone actually willing to locate a store there. It is correct that Whole Foods mandated a Warrensville fronted parking lot. Others may not depending on how they view things. Obviously its a shortsighted plan to only build a free standing starbucks / drive thru type building on the corner of farnsleigh, which I believe was originally planned to pair up with the grocery lot. It needs a multi story building on the corner to really activate that area in a pedestrian friendly manner.

 

Anyway, carry on.

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