renovation plan moving forward
By Jeff Gallatin
Published Aug. 12, 2009
multi-million dollar proposal for renovating the Westfield Great
Northern Mall cleared another hurdle after the Board of Zoning Appeals
approved variances for signs for the project.
Board members last Thursday approved a compromise
measure on the proposal after about three-and-a-half hours of discussion
on the proposal. When it was apparent some BZA members had specific
concerns about the size and placement of different parts of the
sign package, Evan Vlaeminck, the corporate development manager
for Westfield, asked for a five-minute recess so the mall officials
could consider possible compromises.
Corporate and area Great Northern officials adjourned
to the City Council caucus room to discuss possible options. After
the recess, the mall officials altered the size of the “W” and other
related portions of a Westfield sign.
They also dropped a sign below the roofline. Several
BZA members had expressed major concerns about both issues in the
discussion prior to the recess.
Vlaeminck later said the mall officials felt the need
to make the compromises and get the sign package approved.
“Compromises happen as part of negotiations,” he said.
“This is something that we could do to try and make this work.”
In the proposal, mall officials will relocate the
food court to the area outside Dick’s sporting goods. In turn, a
big-box store is slated to go onto the area where the current food
court is. All the existing businesses and offices above the food
court as well the eateries can go to other locations in the mall.
Mall General Manager Kurt Reddick said the businesses have all been
offered other locations if they want to relocate.
“We’re trying to make this the best possible situation
for everybody,” Vlaeminck said.
He again declined to cite a specific business for
the big-box store, citing the delicate nature of ongoing negotiations.
By dropping one sign below the roof line, mall officials
stopped the need for a specific variance for that.
By altering the size of the “W,” mall officials took
away one of the concerns expressed by board members about how
the sign is viewed and perceived. Some board members said
the larger sign was too much and unnecessary for letting motorists
and other people know they were coming to a Westfield Mall.
With the compromise, city building officials will
have to review portions of the new plan. Dale Mitchell of the building
department noted earlier in the meeting that variances have been
granted for other development at the mall in recent years, such
as when Macy’s was added or the Hairy Buffalo restaurant. After
the change, Mitchell said he would be reviewing the changes.
Vlaeminck said he would be discussing the changes
in the proposals with the one possible tenant as part of the negotiations
and said he couldn’t tell at this point if it would affect negotiations.
With the approval, the matter returns to the Municipal
Planning and Design Commission for further consideration at its
meeting slated for 7:30 p.m. tonight in the City Council Chambers
at North Olmsted City Hall.
Chairman John Lasko said with the BZA approval, he
would expect the proposal to keep moving forward.
“We’ll be discussing it again at Wednesday’s meeting,
and I would have every expectation that the mall officials have
discussed some of the concerns and issues that we addressed in the
first meeting,” said Lasko. “I would expect a good discussion and
have every expectation that ultimately we will be moving this matter
forward for full consideration by the City Council.”
Mall officials have said if they gain full city approval,
they would like to begin actual work by the end of the year.
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