Council hears bold vision to reimagine Severance in Cleveland Heights

Severance Action Group makes proposal to breathe life into ailing mall property
Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 12:35 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio (WOIO) - Walmart is gone, Regal Cinemas has closed and been repurposed, vacant storefronts and Dave’s Market and Home Depot are the only two big businesses that remain in the middle of Cleveland Heights.

“This is the most important thing we’ve ever done and I think the city will ever do is revitalize Severance,” said architect Paul Volpe, of Severance Action Group. “But you got a chance to win this passion, the ideas, the dialogue, the thinking and even some of the drama that goes along with people getting together, right?”

Severance Mall opened in 1963 on the Severance Estate, the first fully-enclosed mall in Ohio and one of the first in the country.

“We want to retain people as they age and we want to bring in young people,” said Volpe of the plan.

The group presented a vision with three-story townhouses, senior living, 4.7 acres of park with a pavilion, a food hall, a wellness mall, retail, and even a rebuilt Dave’s.

“None of this is written in stone,” said Larry Nowak. “From there, people can say, ‘We like that, we like that, we like that, but not that.”'

The group expects spirited debate but there’s also another obstacle: The city doesn’t own the property inside the circular access road.

“This seems to be the $100 million question is getting control of the property,” said Councilwoman Josie Moore. “I worry about putting out a public vision which would, in turn, make all of this more expensive to acquire.”

The group would be for the proposal to attract a developer to buy the property from New York-based Namdar Realty Group, one of the first steps in the long process of redeveloping Severance.

“This is the best of Cleveland Heights,” said Councilman Tony Cuda. “When we tap into all the talent that is in the city, this is what we get.”

Severance Action Group will now present its plan to the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals and Planning Commission and Cleveland Heights City Council will formally discuss the plan next Monday.