Dozens attended last week’s Planning Commission meeting to offer their opinions on Roundstone Insurance of Lakewood plans to build a 70,000 office building on the former site of the Cowan Pottery factory. This would move their headquarters from Lakewood and include office buildings and a parking garage.
The project is still in the planning stage. There is no current cost estimate. The company had previously announced they would build as part of the mixed-use development in the old Lakewood Hospital site. They withdrew several months ago.
In order for construction to begin on the newly relocated project, Rocky River officials will need to tear down a bungalow once used by the Cowan studio on Lake Avenue. The Cowan Pottery studio and R. Guy Cowan is considered to have played a role in the history of ceramic art in America. The factory that hosted the site burned down in the 1930s, but he used the remaining bungalow to showcase his ceramics.
A permanent exhibit of Cowan’s pottery is at the Rocky River Library.
“The Cowan property holds no federal or historical registration as a landmark,” said Building Commissioner Ray Reich. “There are no plans of picking it up and moving it anywhere. It’s not on any registry where it is protected. And it is not in the best shape after looking at it the other day.”
Along with the Cowan site, demolition will be done on a restaurant and a line of commercial buildings along the railroad tracks.
Many of those attending the Planning Commission meeting were upset about the demolition of the site, seeing it as a historical structure. In addition, residents had complaints about the communication revolving around the project.
“Complaints were heard and the objections have been considered by the Planning Commission,” said Reich. “The chairman will continue to welcome letters, either in support or opposition until the project moves through to either being granted or denied.”
Further objections were concerns about the amount of traffic that would come into the residential area.
In response to this, the Planning Commision will be conducting a traffic study. They said that residents will be more informed as the project planning continues.
“I know that there are a lot of people upset by a lack of transparency,” said Reich. “We have notified everybody within 150 feet of the project. When we heard that residents felt that nothing informative about the project was online, we made everything available online. The applicants with the project have been following the ordinances in this process. We are following those ordinances as we would with any other project.”
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