Developer Fred Geis to Serve on Cleveland Planning Commission
by Nick Castele
A major Northeast Ohio developer will soon take a seat on a Cleveland board that oversees development projects in the city.
Fred Geis and his development company transformed the vacant Ameritrust Building into The 9—a hotel, apartment and dining complex in downtown Cleveland.
City council in early February approved Mayor Frank Jackson’s appointment of Geis to the planning commission. That’s the panel that reviews proposals for new construction projects in the city.
Former commission member Norman Krumholz said he knows and likes Geis, but has some reservations about the appointment.
“I think there’s an inherent conflict of interest between developers and the planning commission,” Krumholz said.
He said while developers often do what makes the most business sense, “the planners, on the other hand, have to try, to the extent that they can, to represent the public interest.”
For his part, Geis said he sees this role as public service, and will avoid conflicts when he has business before the commission.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that anything that has my name attached to it, or any type of investment, either silent or not, I will recuse myself of that,” Geis said.
Geis said he talks with people considering moving businesses to Cleveland, and he’s interested in making his knowledge of development useful to the commission.
“And I probably have a different perspective of what business is looking for,” he said. “And I hope to share that information with my fellow planning commission members.” He later added, “As far as I’m concerned, the rising tide raises all ships, so good, positive development in the city of Cleveland I think is good for everyone.”
The commission’s next meeting is scheduled for this Friday.