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City Architecture selected as master plan consultant

By Kevin Kelley

Fairview Park

City Architecture, a Cleveland firm that provides architecture, urban design and city planning services, was selected March 15 as the consultant for the city’s update of its master plan.

The city will use a $30,000 Community Development Block Grant, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and awarded by the county, to pay for City Architecture’s services.

Matthew Schmidt, a project manager with City Architecture, said his firm is honored and excited at haven been selected for the project.

“We look forward to engaging residents, businesses, community institutions and other stakeholders throughout the planning process,” Schmidt told West Life. “We anticipate creating, in partnership with the city, a shared vision that will bring excitement, value and investment to key locations within Fairview Park.”

The goal of updating the master plan is to identify and prioritize areas of the city for improvements. Issues typically addressed in master plans include economic development, recreation, the environment, housing and transportation. Early comments by members of the steering committee indicate the vacant storefronts along Lorain Road will be a high priority.

Seven firms had presented proposals for the contract, and the 19 members of the city master plan steering committee narrowed the field to three. In addition to City Architecture, the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission and Environmental Design Group gave presentations to the steering committee Thursday.

The Cuyahoga County Planning Commission issued the city’s first master plan in 1999. Environmental Design Group, then known as the Floyd Browne Group, developed a streetscape improvement plan for the western end of Lorain Road in 2007. Although the city received a grant to proceed with the plan, cumbersome government regulations involved with implementation led the city to drop the project.

All three firms that presented described a more-or-less similar process of gathering information about the community, identifying target redevelopment areas, setting goals, and attempting to fund the implementation of those goals.

All three firms mentioned, to varying degrees of emphasis, the importance of sustainability and environmentally friendly design of future projects.

Various methods of involving the public in the planning process were also discussed by the three contenders.

City Architecture emphasized its diversity of project experience and contacts with developers. Schmidt and Alex Pesta, another City Architecture planner, said the company uses both architecture and planning to create places people want to be at.

In the end, the choice was between City Architecture and Environmental Design Group. The latter firm had a narrow edge in an initial vote, as well as the

support of Development Director

Jim Kennedy, who said EDG gave the most comprehensive presentation. Mayor Eileen Patton supported City Architecture, arguing it was worthwhile to get the opinion of a firm that had not previously worked with the city.

Because City Architecture had done Rocky River’s master plan report in 2005, Patton called her colleague, Pam Bobst, at home to ask her opinion of the firm. Rocky River had a good experience with City Architecture, that city’s mayor reported.

Following some discussion, Kennedy switched his support to City Architecture, with the reasoning it will be good for the city to go with a new planning firm.

The next master plan meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. April 19 at the Gemini Center.

 

 

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