Two Cleveland nonprofits — Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (CNP) and New Village Corporation (NVC) — proposed a plan to Cleveland City Council on Thursday to purchase the historic Shaker Square and save it from a sheriff’s sale, according to a news release.
The square’s current owner purchased the property in 2004 but has since experienced financial difficulties due to the 2008 recession and the pandemic.
If the proposal is approved, it would keep Shaker Square in local ownership and would “quickly address maintenance concerns and launch an effort to determine the long-term direction and eventual ownership of the property," according to both nonprofits.
A key part of the financing includes funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. The City of Cleveland included the historic square on its list of investments. Cuyahoga County is also considering providing additional ARPA funds and is possibly seeking funds from the Village Capital Corporation, Cleveland Development of Advisors and the Cleveland, Gund and Saint Luke’s foundations.
“The support of these organizations will allow us to invest $4 million in vital maintenance and capital projects, including making improvements that will enhance curb appeal and the pedestrian experience,” said Tania Menesse, CEO and President of CNP. “Those projects would help stabilize the shopping center’s current tenant situation and help us continue on the path to recovery from the negative economic impacts of COVID-19.”
The Burten Bell Carr Development (BBC) is also helping the two nonprofits spearhead the proposal.
“Business overall at Shaker Square is strong but, like many retail and town centers, is undergoing a recovery period from the pandemic. We have a robust and vital tenant mix, and we believe this is the right path to stabilizing and invigorating The Square,” said Joy Johnson, executive director of BBC. “To do that, the center needs a tremendous amount of attention and nurturing, but we are confident that this agreement, if approved, will help The Square achieve its full potential.”
Ward Councilwoman Anita Gardner, who represents communities within the Shaker Square neighborhood, said the collaboration helps make sure the future of the square is guided by local stakeholders.
“Allays fears that the century-old retail, dining and entertainment district would be purchased by out-of-town interests with little to no understanding of the area. I am confident that Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and Burten Bell Carr will protect and promote Shaker Square’s long-term viability as they are local stakeholders and have a real appreciation of the Square’s history and place in our community," she said.
Tenants like Akin Affrica, who owns Zanzibar Soul Fusion, welcomes the new proposal.
“I’m so pleased this property is getting local ownership that cares about this community and specifically into the hands of a non-profit partnership that can help stabilize the asset and think about long term planning for the Square, ” he said.
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