SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — The City of Shaker Heights is moving forward with a nearly $14 million plan to revitalize the Lee Road corridor in the city. It’s a plan aimed not only improving the flow of traffic on the busy roadway connecting Cleveland to the south of Cleveland Heights to the north but also creating an environment for future growth.
That’s welcome news to Shaker Heights Animal Hospital, a Lee Road fixture since 1943. Navigating in and out of their small parking lot in front of their building can be tricky.
“The big issue right now is parking, ease of access, entry and exit way to the parking lot, the amount of traffic and the speed of traffic,” said Lisa Welsh who is co-owner of the hospital along with her husband and Veterinarian Dr. Jeremy Welsh.
Lee is currently a four lane road with no on street parking making for a less than user friendly environment for businesses along it. That's one of the reasons the city of Shaker Heights is looking to piece together funding for the nearly $14 million overhaul.
"It is a complete makeover,” said Shaker Heights Mayor David Weiss. “I mean our goal is to have this really be transformed from what you see today with crumbling infrastructure, potholes in the roads, multiple access points that make getting customers in and out of businesses very challenging and frankly unsafe."
Weiss continued, “What we're talking about is a complete overhaul, a remake of this entire corridor and it starts with the ground up. So we're talking about infrastructure, aging sewers that are 100 years old.”
Plans would call for what's known as a road diet, reduce the four lanes to three and adding curb cuts like these on Chagrin that will slow the flow of traffic, add parking and make it safer for pedestrians and more business friendly.
"That then will then encourage the private sector to invest in their businesses and to bring businesses here,” Weiss said.
Paying for grand projects like this is never easy and often involves an elaborate patch work of grants and loans from federal, state and other sources.
"We look for the loose change any where we can find it,” Weiss joked.
That's where Senator Sherrod Brown comes in, this summer's infrastructure deal he feels will offer a community like Shaker a little help with a big project like this.
"The Federal government needs to partner with local governments because it hasn't really done that in a number of years,” Brown told News 5. “And then local governments figure out with community input where they go and what they do."
Shaker Heights Animal Hospital though won't see the transformation from this location. They're moving but just a block down Lee Road to a bigger location that can accommodate their growth. The commitment of the city to this corridor is one of the reasons they’re staying.
“Definitely knowing the revitalization plan, that there’s a future, there’s a plan, there’s betterment coming did play a big role in getting us to commit to building and expanding in this location,” said Lisa Welsh.
There is no set timeline just yet for the project as that funding is secured, but the mayor said the ball is moving forward.
“We expect this to take many, many years but we plant the seeds now and I'm a big believer in long term investment and so we plant the seeds today we water it, we tend to it and it will grow into a completely redone and thriving commercial district,” said Weiss pointing to the thriving new Van Aken District as an example of one that was in the works for years but when finally done right can be transformative to a community.