Shaker Square Facing Foreclosure, Redesign Plan On Hold
Plans to redesign Shaker Square are once again on hold as a portion of the property faces foreclosure.
A foreclosure action has been filed on property owned by The Coral Company after financing arranged to cover a loan fell through due to the pandemic, said President Peter Rubin.
“Our one outcome is to get the mortgage paid off and the property in the hand of either us or another owner who will take care of it,” Rubin said.
Plans to redesign Shaker Square — including a controversial proposal to close Shaker Boulevard through the square — have not been a priority, Rubin said, although the effort is still active.
Paying off the mortgage and managing the impact of the pandemic on businesses in the square have been main priorities in recent months, he said, particularly the restaurants and movie theater.
“Everyone knows, those businesses have been hit very hard by COVID-19,” Rubin said.
Stakeholders are working on a transaction to “recapitalize” the square and take care of the mortgage, he said.
Initial redesign plans were led by LAND Studio, but those duties were handed off to nonprofit community development corporation Burten, Bell, Carr last year, said LAND Studio’s Tara Turner. Previously, the project hadn’t included input from a community development project, she said.
“That made it really difficult to get to the right people and to have those people give us the right feedback,” Turner said.
Conversations in late 2019 and early 2020 found some parts of the community had felt they didn’t get to provide input in the redesign process, said Burten, Bell, Carr Executive Director Joy Johnson. But the pandemic is complicating the renewed engagement process, she said.
“Once COVID hit, we would have conversations and people would talk about things that were important to them. Shaker Square would not come up,” Johnson said. “We would have to say, ‘What about Shaker Square? What are your thoughts on the design?’”
Even then, Johnson said, the conversation would primarily focus on the impact of the coronavirus, rather than the redesign plan.
“It was just more, ‘So, what’s going to happen to Shaker Square if these restaurants close?’ and all of these things from the pandemic,” Johnson said.
Now the priority has shifted to figuring out ownership of the property, Johnson said, which will play a part in conversations around redesigning the area. Burten, Bell, Carr is working with The Coral Company and Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, another nonprofit, to determine next steps.
“If there’s a foreclosure or if it gets taken, there’s no point in us designing a green space,” Johnson said. “If it gets sold at an auction for pennies on the dollar, we’re having a totally different conversation.”
Previous proposals for the property faced backlash from residents and businesses for removing parking spaces and potentially decreasing customer traffic.