Westgate Mall gone?
By Brad Miklosovic
Published Jan. 26, 2005
F. Knoble has informed the Richard E. Jacobs Group that he is opposed
to a proposed plan to demolish Westgate Mall.
Group met with Knoble and Economic Director Kory Koran Jan. 5 to
discuss the fate of the mall. Knoble said they were told that the
Jacobs Group intended to demolish the mall, except for Kohl's Department
store. The project would include three large box stores and an "Avon
Commons type" of outdoor retail space.
the Jacobs Group would not comment on any proposed project. Spokesman
William Fullington said, "The Jacobs Group has been working a long
time on redeveloping Westgate Mall in a way that the residents of
Rocky River, Fairview Park and the surrounding area would benefit
the proposed plan would reduce the square footage of the mall from
the current 700,000 square feet to approximately 500,000 square
feet and that the mall would be torn down in 2006 and rebuilt and
reopened in 2007.
The Jacob Group,
the mayor said, was making the change because they claim that the
upscale shopping demographic has been covered by Crocker Park and
Westfield Shoppingtown Great Northern.
"I do not believe
the upscale market is satisfied by Crocker Park and Great Northern,
as you have stated," Knoble said in a letter to James F. Eppele,
vice-president of real estate development for the Jacobs Group.
"Properly marketed, Westgate is an ideal location for small specialty
shops, whether local or national chains."
The city also
has some concerns about the amount of traffic any redevelopment
would have on the city's infrastructure.
isn't located near any Interstates, consumers must travel through
Rocky River to get to the mall. There are no Interstate off ramps
in Fairview Park.
leading to Westgate are residential, except Center Ridge Road itself,
and even it is residential west of Spencer Road," Knoble wrote.
"The increased traffic caused by regional 'big-box' stores would
severely impact our fine neighborhoods."
been a continual concern for Knoble.
one complaint I receive is from too much traffic," Knoble said.
"Residents complain that streets are being used as through streets
from I-90 to Center Ridge Road. It has been a continual problem
since Target opened."
that the streets between I-90 and Center Ridge Road are all residential
streets and none are commercial. He didn't believe the city could
limit traffic on any of the residential streets, like Shaker Heights
attempted to do several years ago.
the traffic go?" the mayor asked. "There are no commercial streets
between I-90 and Center Ridge Road."
increase in crime likewise worries Knoble.
traffic, there is increased criminal activity," the mayor said.
"They will come out on to Center Ridge Road, whether we want them
to or not."
that "the ability of our police and fire departments to meet the
needs of a 'big-box' center will challenged under our mutual aid
pact with Fairview Park, yet the city of Rocky River will receive
little if any additional revenue."
was the impact a "big-box" store would have on established businesses
in Rocky River.
"If one of
the stores were to be a Lowe's, what would the impact be on Home
Depot or Ingersoll's?" Knoble asked. "Why do we need two major retailers
within a mile of each other? One would eventually be empty and then
we are back to where we started."
if a Wal-Mart were to open, it would impact on a variety of stores
in Rocky River. But he also pointed out that the Jacobs Group hasn't
named any possible tenants for the project and he was only using
Wal-Mart and Lowe's as examples.
a spokeswoman for Lowe's, said company policy is not to comment
on any development projects until the deal is closed. She said therefore,
she can't comment on whether Lowe's is looking at the site.
"We are looking
at potential development in the state (Ohio). Other than that I
can't say anything until a deal is closed," Smith said.
did not return calls for comment.
There are also
concerns about what effect any possible Fairview Park tax abatement
would have on the Rocky River schools.
abated their own city for the past seven years," Knoble said. "That
would reduce the income for the schools."
and some of the surrounding area, while located in Fairview Park,
are in the Rocky River School District.
Ward One Councilman
Robert Frost echoed the mayor's concerns, adding he would like to
see Westgate redeveloped and "be a vibrant contributor to our schools'
But tax abatement
"That for me
is the biggest downside, over and above the other factors," he said.
"To have the burden on the infrastructure, the commercial threat
to our local businesses and the lack of taxes because of tax abatement
makes it all downside."
Pamela Bobst said the city would need to review the impact of any
of Westgate is important to both Rocky River and Fairview Park,
not to mention the Center Ridge Road corridor," Bobst said. "We
would want to look closely at any possible impact development would
Mayor Eileen Patton couldn't be reached for comment.
officials indicated the city would take any redevelopment in stride.
in favor of economic development in a viable mall," Patton said
earlier this month, before the plans for demolition were made public.
the recent store closings and decline in mall traffic. They also
acknowledge that the Jacobs Group can make whatever changes they
want as long as they comply with the zoning and building codes.
noted Westgate was her favorite place to shop, said the decline
in the mall's popularity was disheartening.
creeping away," she said. "And it's sad."
the property is an important source of revenue for the city and
that her administration would work diligently with the owner in
interested in the site in keeping it retail," she said.
Ward 4 Councilman
William Westfall, noting that Westgate began as an open-air strip
mall before being covered over, said last week he didn't think there
would be opposition to a redevelopment plan at Westgate.
change," he said.
Ward 3 Councilman
Fred Gauthier noted that a new Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant
is planned for the corner of Center Ridge Road and West 210th Street.
"If the thought was that (that location) was going to die, they
wouldn't put it there," he said last week.
there were other issues regarding noise, aesthetics and community
pride he wanted to discuss with the Jacobs Group.