NORTH RIDGEVILLE – Once-wooded lots are being cleared away and in their place a plethora of “coming soon” signs have sprouted up in empty fields along Lorain Road.
|STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE
|The area off Lear-Nagle Road (right) near Lorain Road in North Ridgeville is set for development. In rear is Interstate 480.|
The stretch of road to the Ohio Turnpike will soon boom with new restaurants, hotels and businesses.
“It`s location, location, location,” Mayor David Gillock said. “It`s right at I-480, state Route 10 and the Ohio Turnpike. It`s away from the heart of the city, yet close enough to keep everyone connected.”
Residential development has exploded in the city in recent years with 2,000 new homes in the past five years. That development left many to wonder when the commercial development was coming. Well, that time is now, Gillock said.
The growth is combination of businesses including a 100-unit nursing home on a 13-acre parcel of land at the southeast corner of Lorain and Bagley roads and a new building to contain two food establishments on the southwest corner of Bliss Parkway, including a Pizza Pan store.
Across Lorain Road on the north side of the street, a national name-brand hotel and restaurant complex is in negotiations with the city to set up shop next to the soon-to-open Aces Bar and Grill restaurant. Details about the deal have not been announced but are imminent, Gillock said.
In that same area, ValuePlace, a hotel that requires a minimum stay of one week, has just been granted city approval to open its first Ohio location, just east of the turnpike on ramp.
The 121-unit complex will be a four-story building behind the McDonald`s restaurant. Construction for the project is slated to begin in the spring.
“North Ridgeville is a perfect growing market where we really foresee a need for a product like ours,” said Jennifer Kramp, company spokeswoman. “In six to eight months when we open, we will be in a prime location.”
Kindercare, a child care center, is also opening a new 8,758-square-foot center in the area for 106 children. The center, set to open May 2008, will offer a contemporary classroom-style facility and an outdoor Playscape.
The final piece of the development puzzle is a big one. Softball World is hoping to move from its Cleveland location to a 67-acre parcel of land owned by the city. The complex will have 10 softball fields – five fields will be used solely by Softball World. The remaining five will be used by the city`s Hot Stove league.
It is likely the driving force behind the surge of building activity because its presence will bring thousands to the area, Gillock said.
“We`ve been working on this project for more than two years and believe once complete, it will set North Ridgeville up for becoming a major player for softball tournaments,” he said. “Because of that, restaurants and hotels know they will be needed in the area and are willing to invest in development.”
The development could also open up the city for more, Councilwoman at-large Bernadine Butkowski said.
“That area is the door to the community. So, if we can put businesses there, others will spread out to other areas of the city,” she said.
Jim Anderson, developer of the future Softball World complex, said the Cleveland-based company began shopping for locations several months ago when it learned its current lease was not going to be renewed.
“It`s a great location because it`s so close to so many different freeways,” he said. “Probably about a half million people come to our Cleveland facility to play, watch or participate during the season. That is certain to be the case at a new location where we are adding in-door volleyball and basketball facilities.”
Softball World could open its indoor basketball facility as soon as 2008. The softball field could see play by 2009. Before that can happen, Anderson said, the city must nail down a deal with the owners of an adjacent property so that an access road can be built. It`s the only thing holding up construction.
“We want to come there. We just need a road to get back there,” Anderson said.
With Lorain Road growing well, Butkowski said the next focus would be on the recently razed Old Ridgeview Shopping Center. Once cleared, the area of roughly 45 acres will be marketed to become a major shopping hub.
With the residential growth that the city has experienced, Butkowski said commercial development is being sought to bring income and property tax revenue.
The idea is long overdue, said Bryan Weber, owner of Weber Racing Equipment on Cook Road.
Weber took over the family business four years ago after his father, Dave Weber, semi-retired from the business he started in 1968. The current location, just a stone`s throw from Lorain Road, opened in 1974 and at that time the elder Weber thought many other businesses would make the same pilgrimage to the locale strategically located near two major highways.
“I can`t wait for the boom. It`s good for everyone in the area,” Weber said. “Property values will go up and who doesn`t want that. Development is good.”
However, that assessment is not shared by some of the residents in the area who see the growth as encroaching on a quieter way of life.
“I like having wildlife roaming in my backyard and to look out the window and see them,” said a waitress at Gourme Family Restaurant, who lives less than a mile from the Lorain Road establishment. “But all the trees are being cut down. Development is gobbling up all the deer and birds` home.”