The city has seen more than $60 million in development during the past four years.
Dru Siley, the city’s director of planning and development, has been a part of most of it.
He talked about some of the city’s achievements — showing a slideshow presentation with some improvements — as well as a few of the challenges ahead.
“We’ve been so busy over the last few years,” said Siley, who marked his four-year anniversary with the city last week. “It’s nice to have the opportunity to talk about some of this. I am in awe over what we’ve been able to accomplish."
The “Year of the Bicycle”
So far in 2012, the city has been taking some serious strides toward its goal of making Lakewood one of the most bike-friendly cities in the state. There’s a comprehensive bike plan; sharrows coming to the commercial corridors; and bike racks popping up all over the city. “Bike racks represent more than a little inverted tube of metal,” Siley said, adding that a surprisingly large number of residents use bikes as a primary source of transportation. “Lately, it’s been the year of the bicycle.”
Siley pointed to some of the major renovations along Detroit Avenue, including the Lakewood Plaza renovation and the Bailey Building. “You forget how bad some of these building were before (renovation).” He also talked about some of the other projects including Nature’s Bin’s plans to move into the McDonald’s on Sloane Avenue; CVS Pharmacy on Detroit Avenue; the Clifton Pointe townhomes along the river; and the University of Akron Lakewood campus.
Dollar stores the four horsemen of the apocalypse?
Siley said that the recent announcement of a couple of dollar stores’ plans to open on Detroit Avenue has caused some panic. “There are rumblings that dollar stores are the four horsemen of the apocalypse, and will lead to the undoing of Lakewood.” It’s not true, he said. He noted that the city doesn’t have much say in private transactions. “But by no means are they the identity our community.”
Siley also talked about the mayor’s aggressive and comprehensive Housing Forward plan to get as many as 95 percent of Lakewood homes up to housing code. With 32,000 housing units and about 13,000 homes, “Housing is our biggest economic engine,” he said. “We have the kind of housing stock that can be around for more than another 100 years.”