Severance Town Center Redevelopment

November 12, 2019 - Presentation to City Council

In response to the June 21, 2019 Request for Proposals for the preparation of a Redevelopment Plan for Severance Town Center, the City received proposals from 18 firms. After a review by City staff and interviews with eight finalists, AE7 was invited to present to City Council at the November 12, 2019 Committee of the Whole meeting. Links to the presentation and additional documentation related projects the firm has worked on are below.


CLEVELAND HEIGHTS SEEKS PROPOSALS TO SPUR REDEVELOPMENT OF LARGEST BUSINESS DISTRICT - SEVERANCE TOWN CENTER MALL

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, OH, June 21, 2019 – Cleveland Heights continues to be a desirable location for development and redevelopment. Situated just up the hill from University Circle, the Cleveland Clinic and a host of museums and cultural attractions, Cleveland Heights is a prime location for new businesses and residential dwellings.

Severance Town Center

This week, Cleveland Heights City Council authorized the issuance of a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the preparation of a Redevelopment Plan for the Severance Town Center (STC) mall from qualified urban planning consulting firms. Severance Town Center mall is approximately 57 acres and over 600,000 square feet in size and represents the City’s largest business district.

While Severance has a core of successful retailers such as Home Depot and Dave’s Market grocery store, as well as OfficeMax and Marshalls, the mall is currently only partially occupied, and is a commercial strip center that has seen an overall decline in economic vitality over a number of years. The City’s Master Plan, adopted in March of 2017, establishes as a primary goal the redevelopment of STC as a mixed-use and walkable area consistent with the character of Cleveland Heights.

Once completed, the Redevelopment Plan is expected to include recommendations on future land uses, zoning, design standards, and a detailed Market Study, which will be used to attract a future Development Partner to redevelop this property. Redevelopment of this critical site is being pursued to provide significant amenities and opportunities for economic growth, and to once again establish Severance Town Center as one of the City’s most popular and vibrant commercial areas.

The City expects to receive highly creative ideas from qualified urban planning firms having the vision and expertise to assist the City in developing approaches to create a dense, vibrant, pedestrian friendly and unique residential and commercial mixed-use development that leverages the tremendous placemaking opportunities of this site.

Throughout the redevelopment planning process, community outreach and communications will occur to hear from the surrounding businesses, neighbors and community at large to solicit their input and address their concerns and hopes for the redevelopment of the mall.

The deadline for receiving responses to the RFP is July 31, 2019.

###

The following documents provide additional information about the Site and surrounding area:

Questions or Comments


1. Can you provide more guidance on the expected scope of the market analysis, and how this differs from the studies already carried out?

Response:

Market Analysis. The consultant shall evaluate current uses of buildings and properties, economic activity (investment levels and vacancy rates) and trends, and shall prepare an analysis of the market for commercial & residential/mixed-use, retail businesses, offices, housing and other uses in the Severance Town Center area. What types of businesses can this location support – is this location capable of supporting a mixed use development consistent with or similar to what is proposed in the “Severance Town Center: Redevelopment Feasibility and Owner Engagement” Report on the project webpage and as cited in the RFP for this project?


2. Is financial negotiation with existing owners, and definition of the value of public incentives included within the scope?

Response:

Discussions with mall ownership may be a by-product of the Redevelopment Plan process but the primary focus of the plan is recommendations on future land uses, zoning, design standards, review of and recommendations regarding the process for approving future development plans, and a detailed Market Study, which will be used to attract a future Development Partner with the track record and expertise to redevelop this property. How financial incentives may assist the City to reach its redevelopment goals for the property could be a part of the Redevelopment Plan, but again, the City is focus on the redevelopment plan elements noted above.


3. Is there a budget and schedule for completion for this project?

Response:

While a specific budget line item has not been established, the City is requesting firms interested in this project to provide the projected costs necessary to fully address the items requested in the RFP. The City is fully prepared to fund this project. The completed Redevelopment Plan will include, but not be limited to, recommendations on future land uses, zoning, design standards, review of and recommendations regarding the process for approving future development plans, and a detailed Market Study, which will be used to attract a future Development Partner with the track record and expertise to redevelop this property. Given the scope of this planning effort and importance of this site within our community, it would not be unexpected for the project to last from 6 months to a year’s time in preparation and final presentation.


4. What type of evidence will be acceptable for financial capacity?

Response:

A narrative/summary of an interested firm’s track record, and experience, size in terms of number of employees and locations, as well as # of years in business and other evidence of the capacity of a given firm to provide the deliverables requested would all be considered in determining the “financial capacity” of an interested firm.


5. The RFP notes that the review team will be composed primarily of city staff – can you list which departments would be represented on the review team?.

Response:

It is anticipated that the City’s Planning Department and Economic Development Department will comprise a significant portion of the review team, as well as the City Manager.


6. What would the role of Namdar Realty be in the Redevelopment Plan process? Can you please elaborate on the process of seeking a Development Partner and how they would operate in relation to Namdar?

Response:

The City would welcome the opportunity for mall ownership to participate and be engaged in the Redevelopment Plan process. We see this planning effort as a re-imagining of Severance Town Center and look forward to the redevelopment of the property. Eventually, this redevelopment would likely come from the issuance of a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) / Request for Preliminary Development Plans (RFP) to attract a future development partner that would redevelop the STC property based on the vision established in this Redevelopment Plan.


7. What specific deliverables do you anticipate? What specific deliverables do you anticipate? 

Response:

It is anticipated that the completed Redevelopment Plan will include, but not be limited to, recommendations on future land uses, zoning, design standards, review of and recommendations regarding the process for approving future development plans, and a detailed Market Study, which will be used to attract a future Development Partner with the track record and expertise to redevelop this property.


8. Does the City anticipate preparation of an implementation strategy as part of this project?

Response:

Typically a strategy for implementing the ultimate recommendations in the future Redevelopment Plan is a part of such projects. This could include financing, funding, possible incentives and fiscal impacts and/or benefits of the proposed Redevelopment Plan. 

The City is seeking to identify a qualified Urban Planning firm whom the City can work collaboratively with, to develop a Redevelopment Plan for redevelopment of the Severance Town Center property.  The completed Redevelopment Plan will be used to attract a Development Partner with the track record and expertise to redevelop the property by simultaneously pursuing a Multi-Phase Town Center Development located in the existing parking areas surrounding the mall, and a Coordinated Mall Repositioning associated with the existing mall.  


9. Please provide additional detail regarding the Community Engagement process.

Response:

The planning process must be inclusive and involve input not only from the City administration and City Council, but adjacent residents, property and business owners, as well as the greater Cleveland Heights community. Firms that respond to this RFP should describe their approach to effective community engagement for this project and their experience successfully navigating this process with previous projects. The City is open to considering a wide range of approaches to Community Engagement as long as they are inclusive and have a high probability of being effective. The City has successfully and effectively utilized, community-wide meetings, workshops, surveys, charrettes and similar approaches in the past for major planning and development projects and we would anticipate this type of process including one or more of these approaches in the future and for the Severance Town Center Redevelopment Plan. Multiple meetings for a project of this magnitude would not be unexpected, however, firms submitting proposals for this project are free to propose the number of meetings they believe necessary to successfully complete this project.


10. What level of detail do you expect in the plan? (For instance: conceptual or detailed building footprints, SF, # units, parking, streets, infrastructure, open space, streetscape, etc.?) Do you anticipate the need for consultants such as: a civil engineer? Traffic consultant? Others?

Response:

The City is anticipating that the final Redevelopment Plan which will include recommendations on future land uses, zoning, design standards, review of and recommendations regarding the process for approving future development plans, and a detailed Market Study. Accordingly, the Redevelopment Plan should be in sufficient detail to assist the City to attract a future Development Partner with the track record and expertise to successfully redevelop this property. The future Development Partner will be expected to redevelop the Severance Town Center site in a manner consistent with the vision established and recommendations stated in the final Redevelopment Plan.


11. To what extent is the participation of a development consultant or a developer expected or welcome on a project team? Would the participation of either on the team create a conflict of interest that could prevent them from developing some or all of the property in the future?

Response:

As long as it is understood that the developer has no “leg up” in being the “developer” when the Redevelopment Plan is adopted, the input of a developer would likely be helpful. A developer that is part of the planning team joins the team with no guarantee that they will be selected as the developer for the project. It is anticipated that the redevelopment of the property would be subject to another process, a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) / Request for Preliminary Development Plans (RFP) after a Redevelopment Plan has been approved for the site.


12. What is the deliverable expectation for the level of detail required of the "Design Standards" - Is the City anticipating consultants to provide a set of Design Guidelines and/or Development Control documentation?

Response:

The design standards (development standards/design guidelines) to be provided as part of the final project deliverables are anticipated to be at a level of detail necessary to convey to a future Development Partner the preferred level of quality necessary to implement the vision that will be established in the Redevelopment Plan. As such, the standards are anticipated to be “descriptive and suggestive” in nature and would, at a minimum, address, in general, issues such as overall site design, new building form & orientation, signage, lighting, landscaping, and open space.


13. Does the City have a preference for local firms vs. national expertise?

Response:

The City does not have a preference as to the location of the firm chosen for this project – we seek the most qualified firm based on the RFP issued, best able to collaborate with the City to produce the most transformative Redevelopment Plan for Severance Town Center possible. Interest from highly qualified firms with a track record of success for this project is welcome.


14. How does the City plan to implement the Redevelopment Plan?

Response:

Once the Redevelopment Plan and associated deliverables are completed, the City plans to issue a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) / Preliminary Development Plans (RFP) to attract a development partner. The City of Cleveland Heights would look forward to the opportunity to work collaboratively with a development partner to identify and develop strategies and a plan to support the redevelopment of this critical site consistent with the vision to be established in the Redevelopment Plan, and once again establish Severance Town Center as one of the City’s most popular and vibrant commercial districts.


15. It appears that the uses located on the outside of the ring road are stable and not a focus of redevelopment/repositioning. Is this correct?

Response:

From a positive perspective, the mall currently has successful retailers such as Home Depot and Dave’s Market grocery store, as well as OfficeMax and Marshalls. On the perimeter of the site, outside the “ring road”, institutional/governmental and health related anchors are located and have been established, consisting of Cleveland Heights City Hall, a United States Postal Service Office, and Metro Health, as well as several office buildings and multi-family residential developments. While the focus of the Redevelopment Plan is the area within the “ring road”, consideration of the impact and mix of uses along the perimeter of the Town Center will likely be an important element of this to be taken into account as part of the project.


16. Does the City agree that the plan options should not be limited by pre-conceived notions of uses that must remain/are off-limits to redevelopment consideration?

Response:

The City views the Redevelopment Plan project as an opportunity to re-imagine Severance Town Center, but with recommendations from the chosen consultant grounded in marketplace realities as to the best path forward for successful redevelopment of the site. Recent studies, such as the HR&A market study of 2017 point to the potential for a transformative mixed-use development on the site – basically taking a 2 pronged approach of a multi-phase mixed use town center and a repositioning of the existing mall; The City believes the opportunity exists for a transformative dense vibrant pedestrian friendly unique mixed use development that can fit in harmoniously and complement all the great things about Cleveland Heights.


17. Would the City like to see an assessment of other sites competitive with the Severance Town Center relative to suitability for supporting this type of mixed-use redevelopment? Does the City see the redevelopment drawing from the region/sub-region, or drawing from within the Cleveland Heights community?

Response:

Market Analysis. The consultant shall evaluate current uses of buildings and properties, economic activity (investment levels and vacancy rates) and trends, and shall prepare an analysis of the market for commercial & residential/mixed-use, retail businesses, offices, housing and other uses in the Severance Town Center area. What types of businesses can this location support – is this location capable of supporting a mixed use development consistent with or similar to what is proposed in the “Severance Town Center: Redevelopment Feasibility and Owner Engagement” Report on the project webpage and as cited in the RFP for this project.

That said, such an analysis, in order to be complete and for recommendations to be supported, would likely need to consider the region, sub-region, and community level market in order to adequately identify where future redevelopment investment and uses could be drawn from. Competition from other sites and developments would be valuable information to have in such an analysis.


18. Under the RFP’s submission requirements, #2: Is the City looking for a new/current analysis of market conditions or does the 2017 HR&A provided offer sufficient information?

Response:

Market Analysis. Analysis that either validates and/or updates, and expands upon as needed on past market analysis would be anticipated in order to support the recommendations that will be a part of the Redevelopment Plan.

The consultant shall evaluate current uses of buildings and properties, economic activity (investment levels and vacancy rates) and trends, and shall prepare an analysis of the market for commercial & residential/mixed-use, retail businesses, offices, housing and other uses in the Severance Town Center area. What types of businesses can this location support – is this location capable of supporting a mixed use development consistent with or similar to what is proposed in the “Severance Town Center: Redevelopment Feasibility and Owner Engagement” Report on the project webpage and as cited in the RFP for this project.


19. Is there a more detailed Market Study or other information pertaining to this project that is available for review?

Response:

The City has provided links to documents and information under the ADDITIONAL RESOURCES section of the Request for Proposals (RFP) for firms interested in responding to this project to consider at their discretion. These documents and information can be found on the project webpage www.clevelandheights.com/stc . It is not anticipated that any additional resources, other than those currently listed, will be made available prior to the response deadline for this RFP which is Wednesday, July 31, 2019.


20. How should firms interested in this Request for Proposals (RFP) respond in to be considered?

Response:

Planning consultant teams shall submit 15 identical bound hard copies, one unbound hard copy, and one electronic copy.

Packages must be clearly labeled “Planning Firm Responses to Severance Town Center Redevelopment Plan RFP."

Documents containing confidential financial or trade secrets should be submitted in a sealed envelope clearly labeled “CONFIDENTIAL-TRADE SECRETS.” The City will endeavor to maintain but cannot guarantee confidentiality of these documents.

Qualifications packages and supporting materials must be received by July 31, 2019 at 5:00 pm EST to be considered. Packages should be addressed to:

The City of Cleveland Heights
Attn: Timothy M. Boland, Director of Economic Development
40 Severance Circle
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118

P 216-291-4857
stcredevelopmentplan@clvhts.com

The electronic copy should be e-mailed to either:
stcmasterplan@clvhts.com
stcredevelopmentplan@clvhts.com

or delivered on a flash drive with the paper transmission.