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Neighbors Speak Out Against 'Phase 2' of Clifton Pointe Development

The proposal for the second phase of the high-end townhomes took another step forward on Monday. But that didn’t sit too well with neighbors.

The proposal for a second phase of the Clifton Pointe development on Sloane Avenue took another step forward on Monday.

As construction of the first phase is under way — and all 17 units are sold — Lakewood City Council is considering a measure that would extend the 10-year tax break to the second phase of development.

The second portion of the project would also require a zoning change.

But the development proposal hasn’t come without opposition.

About a dozen neighbors of the proposed, high-end townhomes along Sloane Subway attended a couple of council’s committee meetings to speak out on Monday.

Many of those residents shared concerns that included the “size and scope” of the project; parking; landscaping; a possible impact on property values; and safety on Sloane Subway.

“It’s going to be an abrupt change,” said one nearby resident. “We’re putting he highest density zoning up to the lowest density zoning.”

“People are lauding this as a beautiful project,” said another neighbor, “but people in Clifton Park don’t see it that way.” 

The current project on Sloane Avenue is already considered a but council must now decide whether to modify the proposal to include the parcels of land across Sloane Subway to the former Irish Cottage property.

The distinction means that potential developments could qualify for tax abatement.  

However, the tax break would only apply to the increased property value over the next 10 years.

In other words, the properties will still be assessed the same tax amount as before the development: a total of about $22,000 per year.

Council members in attendance unanimously voted to move both issues its next regular council meeting for a full vote.

“There were two dilapidated — and under utilized — doubles, a total value of about $550,000,” said Ward 1 councilman David Anderson. “(They will) essentially be replaced with $8 million in a residential investment.”

“This is a parcel of land that has been vacant for a number of years,” added council president Brian Powers. “I am an at-large councilperson, so I represent the entire city. I’ve heard from a number of my neighbors, many of them opposed and many of them in favor.”

There were a couple of tense moments during the meeting, particularly one in which a resident accused the city of negligence in distributing public notices about the meetings. 

The Lakewood Planning Commission recently unanimously voted to approve the rezoning, but first the project needed the green light from council, as well as from the city’s planning commission and the board of zoning appeals.

Mayor Michael Summers recently told Lakewood Patch that Clifton Pointe is the “largest housing investment in Lakewood in a very long time.”

“This will create a different kind of image, and provide a different lifestyle,” he said. “That all 17 homes sold so quickly, tells me we’ve got 17 families that wanted to live in Lakewood but they didn’t want to live in an old home.” 

The site plan — unveiled at Monday’s committee meeting — will now be presented to the city’s architectural board of review.

Alex Vandehoff April 23, 2013 at 12:03 PM
'Safety on Sloane Subway" - well, it's a hairpin turn that goes uphill both ways. It's never been 'safe.' Collin - is there further detail on what the neighbors are worried about? It sounds like yet another NIMBY situation - complaining about landscaping? I could walk down any one street in Lakewood and find multiple homes with landscaping worth complaining about (this includes you Clifton Park, don't act like everyone is perfect back there)
Michael Rice April 23, 2013 at 02:37 PM
The only impact on property values that I could see would be an increase. Unfortunately, I am more concerned with the apartments between the Detroit Road Extension and Sloane Avenue negatively effecting my property value.
Rob Shearer April 23, 2013 at 08:11 PM
Can I assume that the council meeting where this will be heard is the May 1 meeting?
ian king April 23, 2013 at 08:39 PM
Continues to amaze me the retro bubble that so many Lakewoodites prefer to live in. Folks, this is not a high demand/growth city in 2013! Maybe 20 years ago, but take a walk down Madison from 117th to Rocky River. Walk down Detroit from 117th to Rocky River. You will see some new development - thank you Drug Mart, GetGo and some small business owners for taking the risk - but you will see hundreds of empty storefront and lots. And I don't see any business lining up to rent/buy these storefronts that are rundown, badly need repair, and occupy spaces that are kinda useless for retailing today. Now, take a stroll down Clifton from 117th to Sloane - lots of nice houses, but an awful lot of rundown, in need of repair apartment buildings. And also declining homes. To anyone who has an open eye and an open mind, there are major issues in Lakewood as an inner ring suburb, in economically depressed NE Ohio, with high unemployemnt, and high property/personal taxes. Gee, and the neighbors want to COMPLAIN about a developer actually wanting to entice some folks with $$ to invest in housing in Lakewood? Go Figure! Please Lakewoodites, wake up and encourage any/all residential/commercial development in this town - or perhaps you want to find yourself living in another Detroit/Dead Rust Belt Suburb in a few years. (btw, yes, Lakewood got great ratings from Cleveland Scene - but has that increased our population, lowered our taxes, repaired our streets/apartment bldgs., etc.?)
Pat Ballasch April 23, 2013 at 08:39 PM
Let's break away from the idea new projects shouldn't pay property taxes. Taxes cover city & county services and over 50% of property taxes provide funds for public schools. When new residents don't pay taxes everyone else picks up the slack. The Clifton Point properties fantastic views. Valuable riverfront property shouldn't be seen as needing to be subsidized by taxpayer funds. The city decision makers may need to be brought up to speed on protecting public interests.
Pat Ballasch April 23, 2013 at 08:57 PM
Keeping a city healthy includes everyone taking care of their property. It's also important people pay their fair share of the costs for services. There are plenty of things in our fair city that make it unique & valuable. There's a difference in encouraging growth & investment & giving it away. Community is about working for a greater good. I'm glad there's plenty of people presently rebuilding & improving some great structures in our city. Lighting the candle rather than cursing the darkness.
Wm. Fraunfelder April 23, 2013 at 09:40 PM
I would compare new subsidized residential development with attracting new/established businesses to Lakewood: why move/live/operate here? What are your motivating factors? If Council feels only tax breaks via new housing are the vehicle to spur new residential development and the demographics it attracts, they should also be prepared to engage the business community with the same form of "quasi-eminent domain, tear-down to rebuild the income-tax base" approach to grow our commercial tax base. Funny thing, taxes. Income taxes pay for city services and salaries. Property taxes pay for schools. When Council can start playing with our housing stock out-right, we should be quite wary as to who has what to gain by doing so. But, at least we know which pre-existing, tax-paying demographic we're hurting.
The original Bill April 23, 2013 at 09:44 PM
The 10 year tax break they are getting doesn't take away any revenue from city & county services or the schools. They will still pay the real estate taxes that are currently being paid on that property for 10 years at which time they will begin to pay taxes on the valuation of the developed property.
Kathy April 23, 2013 at 11:02 PM
This development is positive for this city's future. The previous owners of the Irish Cottage owed over 40k in back real estate taxes. Those taxes have now been paid, presumably by the new owners. With the condition of the property as it stands, it is highly doubtful that a private owner would step up to pay such an enormous tax lien and then fix up the property to boot. It is much more desirable to have new housing, which will improve the surrounding property values, then to have an eyesore sit and rot while racking up more delinquent taxes. It's hard to complain about tax breaks when the previous property owner was not paying taxes at all.
dougmoore April 23, 2013 at 11:30 PM
Its a tender balance between PROGRESS & FAIRNESS! Wise people of Lakewood set your standards, be reasonable, open-minded & drive toward PROGRESS! Its competitive out there & its too easy to fall off of the competitive map. There are several lakeside cities who, apparently, lack the vision to secure that balance..Lakewood seems too smart to slide back to them..but nothings guaranteed!
Pat Ballasch April 24, 2013 at 12:18 PM
If the property was foreclosed on and sold at a sheriffs sale a new owner wouldn't be responsible for back taxes.
Linda Rogers April 24, 2013 at 12:26 PM
Lakewood has to have modern structures to offer people who desire that type of housing and lifestyle. The goal is to get people to move here, work and spend their money here. I think this is a positive project for the city.
Kathy April 24, 2013 at 01:45 PM
I believe the developer purchased the property before it foreclosed
ian king April 24, 2013 at 05:44 PM
Hi Wm. - it would be nice if Lakewood could move forward and start to create a new identity for the 21st century. The bungalow/city of beautiful homes identity was ok and still is.... but a lot of our housing stock is declining, and not conducive to the open floor plan favored by many younger generations today. Lets continue to promote Lakewood as a city of beautiful homes, but lets encourage the city and Lakewood Alive to offer annual weekend of workshops and seminars on how to make a 1920/30s/40s home doable for today's families and their open space lifestyle. I mean does a 47in TV really fit into a traditional bungalow living room? How can that bungalow living room be adapted to fit our giant sized TVs? And kitchens with dishwashers, microwaves, more counter spaces, etc.? A weekend of workshops/seminars/DIY - similar to what DWELL magazine offers once a year for mid-century modern fans - would encourage creative thinking about how to re-adapt our cute homes for today's living. And why not capitalize on how smaller homes are energy efficient - the McMansions in Avon are not the future! So....how about a new identity/a new marketing campaign for Lakewood = Lakewood, The Energy Efficient Lifestyle - or something like this, that encourages new thinking on how to adapt our aging housing stock to 21st needs/lifestyles while also being energy efficient.
ian king April 24, 2013 at 05:48 PM
Hi Pat, Please remember that when that darkness is lit by the candle's flame, all that was invisible and not seen is now clearly visible and is reality!
Clevelander April 25, 2013 at 03:28 PM
The goal with Clifton Pointe is to create a world-class living environment that attracts and retains people who want to be in the inner-ring suburbs. People want to live in Lakewood but do not want to deal with the upkeep of an older home. The tax abatement is only on the increased value, there is no reduction on the taxes. This is a great opportunity for Lakewood and everyone involved wants to make Lakewood and Cleveland a better place to live.
ian king April 25, 2013 at 04:03 PM
Nicely stated Clevelander! And how about encouraging our city officials to turn our empty schools into art studios/art centers/community creative centers?
dougmoore April 25, 2013 at 07:49 PM
My understanding is that the state controls what ultimately can happen to our "empty" schools..if Im in error let me know.
ian king April 25, 2013 at 08:00 PM
Hi Doug, well isn't that why we have a city government? To petition and advocate for creative reuse that benefits our city? I am sure if our Mayor and our city lawyers went to Gov. Kasich, especially since Fitzgerald lives in Lakewood, I think we may be amazed at what we may get from the Gov to get a few more votes in the upcoming election. Once again, Ohio seems out of the loop with other states. San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Chicago would never let unused schools sit vacant for years like we do here in Lakewood. I guess it is because Lakewood has so much "demand" for our real estate here we just better sit on it for a few more years. LOL!
Karen April 26, 2013 at 12:27 AM
I live in Clifton Park and think that this development is a positive step in the right direction. If folks are so worried about safety on the Sloane Subway, then make it pedestrian only. It's not like it's a critical road for traffic.
ncoast April 26, 2013 at 01:59 AM
Ian..you're an interesting duck! I was only stating something I heard awhile back. The rustbelt state requires that other schools..charter, private, etmc have first option on the buildings. How long this is mandated I don't know..anyone help me out? But, Ian, thanks again for letting us know that the perfection exists elsewhere!
ian king April 26, 2013 at 04:42 AM
HI ncoast - perfection could exist here if there was the desire, leadership, vision, will and passion to make things happen/change things for the 21st century. But my observation having lived here a few years now is that the leadership of this area, along with a lot of the residents (and again, the facts are that this is an area of a lot of aging in place folks, most of the young college grads leave the state) still embrace the old rust belt mentality - that being ake it or leave it - or why sacrifice now for the future when we can get the minimum from somebody/somewhere --- there is a reason most people outside ne ohio/ohio as a whole, do not have a favorable impression of this state or the region. why is that? i think a lot of us who live know the reality of that perception - so please don't shoot the messenger, just try to change/influence the message!
michael bastian April 26, 2013 at 05:19 PM
The council discussion about tax abatement does expose an interesting point of view that development of tippy tip end of Clifton Park has some similarity with development standstills on the much more challenging east side. I seriously question that the developer in this case would find it any harder to sell the new units without the tax abatement. The first abatement may have sealed the deal the second is more than unneccessary. What more, i will leave to the audience. As far as new development, I don't care for the style but who's to say they don't become classic. Mr. King seems to have some good points but Northern Ohio's lack of vision is no more or less than San Francisco's, Portland or other darlings of the new urbanism. It's lack of money is and giving away 10 years of the increase seems counter productive
Matt Sargent April 26, 2013 at 06:34 PM
I think it is a wonderful plan. I grew up in Lakewood, and am a homeowner myself in Lakewood now. There are some homes that are in need of revitalization and some that have gone to far. It's a good idea to bring in some diversity in home options while still maintaining the treasures Lakewood has to offer in its older homes too. Lakewood is all about the character of its offerings if anything. I drive down Sloan every day, some homes are a gem I would never want to see leave, while others seriously need help. That area has the opportunity to be a hugely desirable area. -Matt

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