By Sue Botos
Improved signalization is hoped to be the next step in the revitalization of Center Ridge Road.
At City Council’s last committee of the whole session, Mayor Pam Bobst announced that safety-service Director Mary Kay Costello has applied for a grant to improve traffic signalization and pollution control on the major city thoroughfare.
The over $2 million grant is part of the NOACA (Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency) Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Improvement Project, which Costello said could save the city up to 80 percent in energy costs by improving traffic flow at the 12 intersections along Center Ridge that are within the community. The city will be responsible for 20 percent of the matching funds.
Costello said that new traffic signals would have LED lighting and fiber-optic technology. While congestion along Center Ridge has picked up during the past few years, Costello said the only complaints she has received are from residents trying to navigate the portion of the street where Northview and Linden roads do not line up to form a straight intersection.
The turnaround of Center Ridge’s western end, which is anchored by the Brighton Chase apartment complex, had a big influence, according to Costello, on the decision to request the grant for this area of town. “We felt that it (Brighton Chase) made this a unique corridor. There are many other corridors in the city, but this is the one we kept coming back to,” she stated.
Due to the brutal winter, the luxury apartment complex is scheduled to be ready for its first tenants in July, rather that the projected spring date.
“There are exciting things happening here,” Costello continued, pointing out the addition of two new eateries, Nada Bar coffee shop at 20130 Center Ridge and the neighboring, soon to open Brown Sugar Thai restaurant.
She added that Fitworks has settled into its new quarters in the former Target building, and Piada Italian Street Food has become a foodie destination for the city.
One of the few major roadblocks to the Center Ridge building boom is the long-abandoned Executive Club and adjoining office structure. Last year the complex, built in the 1960s as an “executive men’s club,” was declared unsafe by the city fire department, which has posted signs in the windows consisting of a red square with a white “X” through it. The designation marks the buildings as abandoned and dangerous for firefighters to enter.
City fire prevention officer Robert Crowe told West Life that, while the building is structurally sound, vandals have made off with copper pipes and heating units.
“We’ve received some inquiries about demolishing the building,” city building Commissioner Kevin Beirne said when reached for comment. He added that while the city has taken such preliminary steps as analyzing material found in the pool for hazardous waste, and checking for asbestos, the property owner must sign off on the work.
In March 2009 the buildings were purchased by the Kautilya Group, a New Jersey-based company, for $1,975,000. Since that time, CEO Gary Patel has communicated sporadically with city officials, and has been vague about plans for the building.
In addition, Beirne said that the Center West building, near the northeast corner of Wager Road, is empty, and was purchased at auction by Rocky River residents. The plan is to tear down the structure once environmental testing for asbestos and other hazardous materials is completed, but Beirne said he is not aware of any future plans for the site.