Van Aken District Will Create “Downtown” for Shaker Heights

by | Jul 21, 2015 | Development News, Dining, Nightlife, Shopping, Neighborhoods & Housing

Luke Palmisano, RMS Investment Partners shares the vision with the EA staff

Luke Palmisano, RMS Investment Corp., shares the vision with EA staff.

Updated July 11, 2016….Shaker Heights announced that James Beard award winning chef, Jonathan Sawyer, will curate the food & beverage scene at the Van Aken District. Look for exciting announcements to come!
Monday, July 20, 2015 – For today’s EA staff continuing education outing, we visited the City of Shaker Heights to learn how the new Van Aken District will change that town’s future…
When the Van Swerengin brothers developed Shaker Heights in the early 1900s, they envisioned a bedroom community with little commercial intrusion. So while the suburb can brag about gracious residential homes on tree-lined streets and beautiful public parks, there has never been a downtown Shaker – a gathering spot for residents to mix, mingle, shop, dine, and be part of a community. A partnership between RMS Investment Corp. and the City of Shaker Heights is going to change all that with the upcoming Van Aken District.
In 2016, the Van Aken Shopping Center (where Warrensville Center Road, Chagrin Boulevard, and Van Aken Boulevard meet) will be torn down and rebuilt as a live/work/play neighborhood with:

  • Restaurants and retail on the ground level (several local independent restaurants have stepped forward, announcements to come soon!)
  • 100 apartments (aiming at roughly $1.90/SF rentals)
  • 28,000 SF of office space on the upper floors
  • A 330 car parking garage
  • Multiple points of ingress/egress
  • Easy access to one block away Thornton Park (the community pool, ice rink, and rec center for Shaker Heights)

This will help create a new neighborhood in Shaker Heights designed to appeal to Millennials and empty nesters who crave a walkable community with bars, restaurants, shops, and public transportation all nearby. The Van Aken District has the unique advantage of being at the end of the RTA’s light rail Blue Line Rapid train. Residents will be less than 500′ from a train to take them to Shaker Square, downtown Cleveland, or the airport.

VanAken_Overhead.jpg - photo courtesy City of Shaker Heights

Future Van Aken District – Photo Courtesy of City of Shaker Heights

Two side benefits of this project include:

  • The crazy intersection of Warrensville Center Road, Chagrin Boulevard, Northfield Road, and Van Aken Boulevard is no more. Now instead of a 4 minute red light experience, drivers will have to wait just 90 seconds at the four-way stop that is now just Warrensville Center and Chagrin.
  • Property taxes, the highest in the state of Ohio (partly due to the fact that there is so little commercial space in Shaker to help shoulder the tax burden), will be held in check – doubt it will ever go backwards, but at least it won’t continue to rise more dramatically than surrounding suburbs.

Shaker Heights Van Aken Distirct before shot of intersection - photo courtesy City of Shaker Heights

Crazy intersection that is no more – Photo Courtesy of City of Shaker Heights

When a major project like this happens, there are always ripples that occur, and here is a happy one: Christ Episcopal Church on Warrensville Center is examining its community programming schedule (currently Verb Ballet has practice space in their basement) and is in talks with several arts organizations who might want an Eastside presence in the suburbs…more to come on that later.
Tania Menessee, City of Shaker Heights, shares info with EA staff.

Tania Menessee, City of Shaker Heights, shares info with EA staff.

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