River’ prospers, development director reports
By Allison Pritchard
Published Oct. 29, 2008
is in what many call the biggest recession since the Great Depression,
Rocky River buildings are doing relatively well. It’s no wonder
the theme of Kory Koran’s Economic and Community Development Update
Thursday was “Amazing River.”
in Rocky River at an amazing pace, Koran told the crowd of business
people. This was the director of economic and community development’s
sixth annual speech at a Rocky River Chamber luncheon.
In 2007, the total increase in value was $17.7 million
for commercial buildings in River, and residential and commercial
combined totaled $22.7 million, Koran said about the city that was
rated as the fourth best suburb in Cleveland magazine’s June issue.
Only five Cleveland
area communities showed a gain in value of residences, with Rocky
River being the only one on the West Side to gain in value, Koran
added. The city also ranks number eight of 40 zip codes in the Cleveland
metro region for the number of days it takes to sell a home, which
is 66, he said.
In terms of
personal residences, some new residences are struggling and some
are doing well, Koran said. Of the three residential Chandler projects,
River Place and River Side are almost complete, and Grand View,
which has suffered financial difficulties, got its first occupancy
permit last month and is getting back on track, Koran said.
The big residential
craze this year was home renovations, or what Koran referred to
as the “building an addition phenomenon.” The city boasts 31 additions
and 36 major remodels, totaling $4.9 million in 2007 for residential
renovation, said Koran.
The big business
news this year, according to Koran, is that Rocky River High School
graduate Packy Hyland Jr. moved his health care solution business,
Workflow.com, to Rocky River from Westlake.
In other business
news, Koran said although onlookers may think many office buildings
in the city appear vacant, most aren’t. Koran said he visited all
the city’s office buildings to obtain an accurate number of vacancies,
and he was amazed at the occupancy level — the west side is at about
100 percent capacity and around Center Ridge, there are only two
buildings with problems, Koran said.
started out with many vacancies, Beachcliff Market Square is starting
to get back on the right track with a mix of local and national
retailers including the new Jake’s Life Rocks store and Urban Home
and Garden. The property also recently made small improvements,
including better landscaping, said Koran.
River shopping area, the Shoppes of Old River, is doing better than
ever. For the first time the area enjoys almost full occupancy.
The newest and most talked about addition is Tartine Bistro in the
old city hall on Old Detroit Road, Koran said. Tartine is a traditional
European style wine bar that now serves lunch, said Koran. With
Mitchell Sotka taking a leadership role in planning events like
Sip ‘n Stroll Thursdays in the summer, the Shoppes of Old River
are booming, and especially hopping at night, Koran said.
In other news,
Rockport, which has been having tough times, recently received a
signed letter of intent from Best Buy. The former Target building
is vacant and Rockport needs one more tenant to start construction,
out its 17-year lease and moved to Westgate, along with Buffalo
Wild Wings, which is moving to Westlake as part of a national effort
to move its restaurants to newer store sites, Koran said.
has not only recently lost just a few stores, but school district
funds, according to Koran. In an unusual case of one city passing
changes that affect another, he reported that booming Westgate shops
(located in Fairview Park, but part of the Rocky River school district)
received property tax abatement for seven years, which means tax
money that would be going to Rocky River school district is gone.
About two years ago Fairview Park granted tax abatement to Westgate
owner Jacobs Group’s new construction as each store opened.
In other tax
news, income tax receipts are doing very well considering the economy,
said Koran, admittedly bragging about the city. Rocky River’s income
tax rate is 1.5 percent, one of the lowest in the county and has
not increased since 1977.
In what Koran
cited as other positive news, the city is considering updating the
development code to include mixed-use zoning chapters for the first
time. This would allow residences and businesses to co-exist in
the same buildings, Koran said. A consultant is preparing a mixed-use
chapter and is about half-way through his 14-month contract. The
change that would let Rocky River be on par with other progressive
communities and would have to be approved. When the Master Plan
was completed three years ago, it had included recommendations to
update the development code.
his speech by stressing that Rocky Riverites should shop in Rocky
River to keep money flowing through the city and to allow Rocky
River-owned businesses to continue to thrive.
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