A development vision for the south-western part of Tremont called Lincoln Heights won unanimous support Monday from its immediate community. Now, that conceptual vision is headed to City Planning Commission on Friday for its possible adoption.
The plan shows existing and proposed buildings, greenspaces and parking lots in the area generally along West 25th Street and Scranton Road, from about Fairfield Avenue south to Interstate 90/490.
While that area hasn't seen the intensity of development as the rest of Tremont, there are signs on the landscape and in recent property transactions that show its fortunes are starting to change.
"The purpose of the plan is to proactively think about neighborhood development with the community," said Ward 3 Councilman Kerry McCormack whose ward includes Tremont, Ohio City and Downtown.
City Council on June 4, 2018 authorized City Planning Commission Director Freddy Collier to enter into an agreement with the Tremont West Development Corp. for the Tremont Lincoln Heights Planning Study. Council also approved using $5,000 in Ward 3 Casino Revenue Funds for that purpose.
"This is a perfect example of how to proactively engage residents and the community in city planning," McCormack added.
Seventh Hill Design of Cleveland to draft the plan and produce some graphics to help illustrate it. Seventh Hill Principal David Jurca shared those conceptual images publicly today via Twitter.
"Our Lincoln Heights plan was unanimously approved by the block club and Tremont West (Development Corp.) board," Jurca wrote. "Now, we present to the Planning Commission this Friday. A hand-drawn rendering of the vision plan is shown, but some of the most important elements are policies to address affordability."
"Seventh Hill's David Jurca and team did an awesome job engaging all of the stakeholders in this area," said Khalid Hawthorne, housing and economic development director for Tremont West Development Corp.
"This area experienced large increases in property tax values of 200-300 percent," he added. "That is great if you are able to take out a home equity line but if you are low- and/or fixed-income it just means extra expenses. Will long-term residents be forced to sell?"
He said part of the solution is requiring that 20 percent of housing units in a given development involving city-owned land-bank properties be priced as "affordable." That policy is spelled out in Tremont West Development Corp.'s Near Westside Housing Inclusion Strategy and is available on the community development corporation's Web site.
The renderings show some under-construction buildings as existing, such as St. Joseph Commons, the new Front Steps Housing and Services building at 2554 W. 25th St. Or, there's the The Tappan, 2703 Scranton Rd., Sustainable Community Associates' latest development.
Some of that land is owned by affiliates of Tremont-based SoLo Development. But SoLo President Adam Waldbaum said he wasn't aware of what the intent of the plan was in showing those building concepts, although he is a member of the Lincoln Heights Block Club.
"I'm not developing anything at this moment in that area," he said, adding that he did not wish to discuss his company's plans. "As time progresses, I'd like to share more."
When asked if the plan could help provide residents with some expectations of what future developments could involve, thus reducing so-called NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) opposition, he said the planning exercise was successful in incorporating a variety of opinions.
"Seventh Hill did a really good job in taking everyone's thoughts into consideration," Waldbaum said. "I gave my input to it. I'd like to see some things go differently (with the plan) but wouldn't we all."