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'Not much choice there': Cleveland Heights nonprofits sign lease extension for Coventry PEACE Building

As the fate of where nine Cleveland Heights nonprofits will continue is still unknown, a temporary resolution has been finalized.
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Posted at 9:51 PM, Jul 05, 2024

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — For months now, there has been an ongoing discussion between Heights Libraries and nine nonprofit organizations that occupy the Coventry PEACE building. The big question: Will those groups be able to stay?

As of Friday, eight out of nine of those nonprofits have signed a six-month extension of their lease. Those include:

  • Artful
  • Building Bridges
  • Cleveland Heights Teacher’s Union
  • Coventry PEACE Inc.
  • Future Heights
  • Grace Communion
  • Lake Erie Ink
  • Reaching Heights
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Heights Libraries told News 5 that the Singer's Club has not signed an extension.

"We signed off on it because if you think about it, there's not much choice there. You either [sign a six-month extension] or get ready to move out," said Grace Communion Pastor Tamar Gray.

Up until June 30, all nine nonprofits were operating on an 18-month lease.

However, Heights Libraries said each one missed an April deadline for the extension.

Coventry PEACE Inc. Board President Krista Hawthorne said most of the nonprofits thought they had a six-month renewal notice, and that's why there was a disconnect in renewing.

"We were in different situations in our lives. We are small-staffed. No attorneys, no accountants," Hawthorne said. "Not only was that deadline missed, but we learned at the same time that there would be no additional renewals after that, which was news to all of us."

The Heights Libraries was unavailable for an interview on Friday but sent a statement to News 5.

"The [Heights Libraries] Board... decided to allow a lease extension of six months, July 1 to Dec. 31. After that, the leases renew on a month-to-month basis thereafter until terminated by either party with 60 days’ notice," said the Heights Libraries. "The decision about what the future of the Coventry PEACE Building will be has not yet been made and there are no inevitabilities."

Heights Libraries explained there is a problematic ratio between the rent collected from the Coventry PEACE Building tenants and the necessary repair costs for the venue.

According to Heights Libraries, it collected $149,267 in rent in 2023. However, a March 2024 report by Cresco/Playhouse Square Management, the building’s current manager and real estate agent, finds the former Coventry Elementary School building is in need of slightly over $2.8 million worth of repairs.

Those necessary repairs include the building’s roof which is quoted at $217,300 to fix, according to Heights Libraries records.

“This building is fully operational. It's a busy place. It's a safe place,” stated Hawthorne. “When the library decided they did not want Coventry Peace to continue, they hired an outside management company that was expensive every month. They also hired professional cleaners and that was an expensive cost.”

The Heights Libraries board has asked staff to evaluate the financial stability of the building and to conduct an “open, transparent and public process” to consider options that are both within the mission of the library as well as in the best interest of the community.

“We want to do this, and we've got bright minds on both sides. Being able to come together and have that discussion and come to a win-win situation would be what we're looking for,” said Hawthorne.

Heights Libraries will be circulating a public survey regarding the Coventry PEACE Building both online and in hard copy early next week.

“I’m always hopeful,” stated Gray.

A painting inside the Coventry PEACE Building. News 5 Cleveland photo.

Hawthorne told News 5 that Coventry PEACE Inc. has created a nine-year business forecast and will soon publicly share it.

“This is a financially stable project,” she added.

The Coventry PEACE Building has been home to several nonprofits for almost two decades. It currently has 12 tenants, three of which recently signed a new lease. Those include:

  • People’s Choice Payee Services
  • DanceCleveland
  • Do Good Day Hub

The Coventry PEACE Building is now over 50% occupied.
The next Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Pops will be Friday, July 26, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The event will feature live music, food vendors, open art studios, a community art project, and poetry open mic night. It’s free and open to the public.

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