Cedar Lee

Cedar Lee

Cleveland Heights, OH

http://www.futureheights.org/

The Cedar Lee Business District in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, is home to more than 150 small, independently owned businesses and several anchor institutions, in a walkable, urban setting. New micro-breweries and wine shops compliment coffee shops, ethnic eateries, boutiques and service businesses, some of which have been there for decades. Its Main Street feel is enhanced by many arts venues, including Cain Park (a city-owned outdoor theater and music venue), Cedar Lee Theatre (an independent movie theater), Heights Arts (a nonprofit gallery that promotes local artists) and Dobama Theatre (an equity theater that produces contemporary plays by established and emerging playwrights). FutureHeights, a nonprofit community development group, has been working with Cedar Lee Special Improvement District, the city, and others to revitalize the district. In 2013, it organized the inaugural Heights Music Hop, a free music festival, to counteract a negative image and safety concerns. Then, on June 30, 2014, Jim Brennan, owner of Brennan's Colony, a popular restaurant and bar, was killed during an attempted robbery. Fueled by racism, the district's image, business traffic and safety concerns worsened, and vacancies increased. With a new market study to guide district improvements and a recently completed $3.3 million streetscape project that improved the environment for pedestrians and bicyclists, the district is poised for growth. Cleveland Heights High School, at the district's center, reopened in fall 2017 after a LEED Silver, $95 million renovation that revealed the 1926 building's historic fa├žade, created light-filled interior spaces, and increased community access to the auditorium and natatorium. In 2018, the city is seeking a developer to construct a multi-use building on vacant land it owns in the heart of the district, and FutureHeights is leading a creative place-making effort in the Cedar Lee Mini-Park, a vacated street that connects parking areas to the businesses.