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Cleveland Clinic leaders want Fairfax neighborhood input on expansion plan

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Posted at 10:30 PM, May 16, 2022

CLEVELAND — It was a packed house inside Cleveland’s Fairfax neighborhood’s Monday community meeting.

“This is where the community gets to say what they want to do and it gives us the blueprint for what we should be doing in the Fairfax community,” said Blaine Griffin, Cleveland’s City Council President.

Employees from the Cleveland Clinic were also in attendance to discuss the Clinic’s expansion projects, announced Friday.

“We did not want to miss the opportunity to share with our neighbors and other stakeholders what are plans and thoughts are and give them an opportunity, one, to become aware but also to offer input,” said Vickie Johnson, the senior director of Government and Community Relations for the Cleveland Clinic.

The Clinic also focused on community input for the former Cleveland Play House theatre site that sits between Carnegie and Euclid avenus near E. 83 and E. 86 streets.

It announced Friday that the Cleveland Play House will be removed. Once it’s gone, this area will initially be used to support the building of the new neurological building where all equipment and vehicles will be contained on the Cleveland Clinic property during construction.

Johnson said the decision to remove the landmark isn’t one that is without thought.

“We’ve come to the conclusion, every single time, that this piece of real estate cannot be saved in its current form,” she said. “The Cleveland Play House, for many, has sentimental value, so we want to have a conversation about it. Most people, once they understand the why, they can then embrace the decisions that are being made and then understand how we can repurpose space to benefit the community moving forward.”

Johnson said the community will benefit from the parking and projected green space.

“Some of the, I guess, side effects of growing, there’s some pain with that, right? We want to make sure we don’t cause any of that with the community and we can keep parking on our campus and not spill into the community.”

And community input and neighborhood meetings will be taken into account and help Clinic leaders determine what to do with the rest of the space moving forward.

“There’s lots of land available that will be developed around it and that’s what we will work with the community on, to make sure that we hit what they would like to see, what the market will support, and how we can conceal those other uses,” she said.

While there is some push-back when it comes to the former theatre, including an online petition with nearly 4,000 signatures, Griffin said he is in favor of the Clinic’s plan.

“If it alleviates some of the burden that parking is creating in the area and it creates some community benefit, then I’m all for it,” he said. “All I want to do is mark sure that the residents from this community benefit from whatever Cleveland Clinic does, making sure the residents don’t feel like they’re being pushed out or displaced but that they’re being embraced and welcome.”