Board approves design of proposed CVS redevelopment on Detroit Ave.

The vacant Lutheran church and school will be demolished.

The former Lutheran church and school, along with two nearby buildings will be demolished to clear the way for CVS, which is relocating from a space about 100 yards away. The RTA bus stop is staying put.

The Architectural Board of Review last month gave its unanimous approval to the design of a proposed new CVS on Detroit Ave.

CVS will move from a storefront just east of the Lakewood Public Library into a newly constructed 14,051 square foot building with 64 parking spots on the site of a vacant Lutheran church and school. To make way for the CVS, the church will be razed, along with all of the other buildings on the 1.5 acre area on Detroit Ave, between Arthur Ave. and Lakeland Ave. Construction is expected to begin in the late summer or early fall.

The developer, Lakewood-based Zaremba Group, worked informally with the city’s design board for several months to make adjustments to the initial project proposal. Zarmeba has some recent experience with the process — they re-developed the corner of W. 117th St. and Clifton Blvd. for a CVS.

Site Plan for Proposed CVS on Detroit Rd.

The site plan for the proposed CVS store includes a pedestrian pathway to library at the property's southern boundary. Detroit Ave. is located at the top of the image.

“This is not a prototype,” said Sean McDermott, a senior development manager with Zaremba. McDermott is also a city resident and the vice president of LakewoodAlive’s board of directors. “The sophistication of the building has increased a lot,” one board member noted.

The new building will stand in close proximity to the southwest corner of Arthur Ave. and Detroit Ave., five feet off of the public right-of-way with a 13-foot wide sidewalk. The building’s placement is consistent with what the city desires in new commercial construction because it maintains the visual character of the area.

The Walgreens located at the corner of Madison Ave. and Bunts Rd. faux widows and a partially obstructed view inside.

Unlike the Walgreens on the corner of Madison Ave. and Bunts Rd. (above), the proposed CVS will have full windows facing Detroit Ave. allowing for an unobstructed view into the store.

Unlike the Walgreens on Madison Ave. and on W. 117th St., the CVS will have full windows facing the main street enabling passersby to see into the store. The windows on the Arthur Ave. side of the store will be blocked out by seasonal black and white photos.

In consideration of the foot traffic to the nearby library, the site will have a distinct pedestrian path adjacent to the houses on its southernmost boundary. Out of a concern for safety, the brick and vegetative screening used to conceal the parking lot from view will not be used on the walkway. In 2008, a woman leaving Merry Arts Pub and Grille said she was raped after being forced into the alley between the Lutheran school and a house on Lakeland Ave.

The building’s parking lot will feature three bioswales to help with storm water management. Bioswales are planted areas that filter pollution and silt from surface runoff water. The YMCA and Garfield Elementary School parking lots both have bioswales.

In the interest of being a good neighbor, the store will have an internal compactor and the parking lot lighting system will be positioned in such a manner that there will be zero light spillage onto the surrounding properties.

Zaremba worked with the experts at Davey Tree and determined the property’s three existing trees were at or near the end of their life span and could not be saved. However, CVS has committed to the planting of mature pin oaks on the western side of the building and the installation of trees with deep wells on Detroit Ave. to minimize root damage to the sidewalk.

Lakewood Alive wants banner pole, Arthur Ave. resident concerned about increased traffic

LakewoodAlive Executive Director Mary Anne Crampton praised Zaremba and CVS for their adherence to several of the city’s preferred commercial design guidelines. She wondered if a few benches could be added to the mix, and asked if a banner pole could be installed on Detroit Ave. Her group inherited from its predecessor four snow-themed flags that were purchased several years ago for $1,600. They proved to be too heavy for the existing banner poles and have been kept in storage at the Beck Center.

1909 photo of the walls at the corner of Detroit Ave. and Arthur Ave. (courtesy of

Some Arthur Ave. residents would like to see the stonewall gateways that were once at the end of their street rebuilt. Above, the walls as they looked in 1909.

Arthur Ave. resident Cory Bruaw said citizens on his street are circulating a petition to gauge interest in a self-assessment tax to finance the replacement of the city’s standard street light poles with more historic-looking light posts. They have in the past also been interested in rebuilding stonewalls that once stood at the end of the street. Bruaw asked if CVS would be interested in contributing to the projects.

In anticipation of an increase in automobile traffic, Bruaw requested parking lot signage to direct vehicles exiting the CVS parking lot toward Detroit Rd and away from Arthur Ave. In addition, he wondered if the RTA bus stop could be moved further west on Detroit Ave, closer to the CVS entrance . He was concerned about loitering and litter. “It always seems like that’s a dirty corner,” he said.

Zaremba project manager Sean McDermott indicated he talked with RTA and asked them about moving the bus stop. “They said, ‘Absolutely not, it’s staying where it’s at.’,” he said. Representatives of the Lakewood Public Library felt likewise, according to McDermott.

He said CVS is open to the idea of paying for underground electrical conduit on its property in support of new light posts. However, it is not as interested in rebuilding the stonewall. “They’re not jumping out of their seat to do it,” he said.

McDermott explained that signage will be posted to “deter” traffic from traveling south on Arthur Ave., but would not outright prohibit it.

Regarding Crampton’s requests for benches and banner poles, McDermott said both items could be added.

The board voted, with a couple of minor provisions, to approve Zaremba’s design proposal for the development. Once the building permits are secured, the property will formally change hands and demolition can begin. The church ownership group maintains the right to salvage the building’s stain glass and steeple.

Separately, the Planning Commission approved a request to consolidate the parcels that comprise the property and okayed the parking lot as a conditional use for the southern half of the land that is zoned as residential.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Lakewood resident Tom Berry asked if the property had actually transferred ownership yet. He said Pilgrim Saint Paul Lutheran Church had a $300,000 lien on the property. McDermott replied that once the building permits are issued, the lien would be satisfied as part of the sales process.

Architectural Board of Review: An underrated group

Although they don’t get much credit or attention, the city’s Architectural Board of Review  (which triples as the Board of Building Standards and Sign Review Board) plays an important role in maintaining the quality of the city’s visual character by guiding property owners toward smart decisions that enhance the city’s appearance.

Here are some examples of their influence:

2085 Chesterland

2085 Chesterland  (Ward 3)

This house caught fire and experienced significant damage to its second floor. Owner Michael Hein approached the ABR last summer with plans to convert it from a duplex to a one-and-a-half story single-family home with two first-floor bedrooms.

Hein, who had been slow to repair the house because of an insurance dispute and earned a spot in housing court as a result, was anxious to set things right. “I just want the job done,” he said.

In Hein’s haste to make progress, the design plans he submitted were contradictory and not to scale. For instance, the drawings didn’t provide for any windows on the upper half of the house, and called for an 18-ft high first-floor ceiling.

One board member called the drawings “too heavy-handed” and “out of context.” A building department representative described the renderings as “deceptive.” The board deferred a vote on the matter and asked Hein to resubmit the plans with the necessary corrections.

One month after his appearance before the ABR, Hein sold the home to Lakewood General Contractors for $10,000. It repaired the fire damage and kept the house configured as a duplex.

Cozumel –16512 Detroit Ave.  (Ward 1)

Cozumel –16512 Detroit Ave.  (Ward 1)

Last summer the effort to Mexicanize the distinct exterior of a building originally conceived as an IHOP clashed with the ABR’s standards of tasteful design.

The board okayed use of decorative steel tiles on the building’s peak, but refused to permit their use on the restaurant’s awnings. “It doesn’t seem right to us,” said one board member. “It looks too suburban,” another board member added, and noted it looked like something in a strip mall.

The installation team offered to reinforce the awnings to support the weight of the tiles, but the board would have none of it. It approved the changes to the building’s peak, but rejected the proposed alterations to the awnings.

Winking Lizard Tavern - 14018 Detroit Ave. (Ward 3)

Winking Lizard Tavern – 14018 Detroit Ave. (Ward 3)

With a building of obvious architectural significance, the ABR was careful in its March 2010 review of a request to add a permanent front awning to the Winking Lizard in support of an outdoor dining patio.

The operations manager at the restaurant wanted to build an overhang on the eastern half of the restaurant. The board was concerned it would detract from the structure’s appearance and asked him to instead consider placing it on the western half of the building.

He had to discuss it with his business partner who was out-of-town at the time, but eventually agreed to make the adjustment.

Former Kovachy Bros. Auto Parts - 12400 Detroit Ave. (Ward 4)

Former Kovachy Bros. Auto Parts – 12400 Detroit Ave. (Ward 4)

Strongsville resident Suleiman Hassan purchased the building on the northeast corner of Detroit Ave. and Cove Ave. in March 2009 for 60,000, and it has been practically vacant ever since.

Hassan contracted with Flemco, LLC in March of last year to replace the building’s leak-prone flat roof. The initial plan called for a shed-style arched roof to be added to the top of the structure. The board didn’t think it would be visually appropriate, but asked to see more detailed drawings of the proposal.

The board was frustrated at the next few meetings when the contractor showed up without the plans, and then changed the concept to a different roof style. The ABR eventually approved a roof design with a more gentle slop

Last week, Hassan gained approval from the board for an awning design plan. He said he couldn’t afford to paint the outside of the building, and didn’t give any indication when his dollar discount and beauty store would open.

16900 Detroit Avenue (Ward 1)

16900 Detroit Avenue (Ward 1)

It’s a small wonder Angelo J. Coutris hasn’t appeared in housing court over the condition of the building he owns across from the YMCA. It’s falling apart, literally.  The windowsills have deteriorated and one neighbor said chunks of the building have fallen to the sidewalk.

He received design approval about a year ago to make improvements and renovations, but never followed through on the plans. He reappeared before the ABR a couple of months ago seeking approval for some adjustments to his initial designs.

Coutris wants to make structural improvements to the second floor of the building that would require extensive work on its brick walls. It will be an expensive project and Coutris said he wants to do it properly. The board has been trying to persuade him to use a brick veneer to cover the areas where bricks are removed.

Coutris, who initially wanted to use a cheaper and less aesthetically pleasing material, seemed opened to the idea. He is scheduled to discuss the situation further at next week’s ABR meeting.

Dunkin Donuts - 17609 Detroit Ave (Ward 1)

Dunkin Donuts – 17609 Detroit Ave (Ward 1)

The ABR usually does a solid job of knocking down bad ideas before they can be actualized. The Dunkin Donuts on Detroit Ave. is an exception. Built a couple of years ago, it lacks the kind of sophistication and imagination one would hope to see in new construction, and does little to compliment the surrounding environment.

Thai Kitchen - 12210 Madison Ave (Ward 4)

Thai Kitchen – 12210 Madison Ave (Ward 4)

The average Lakewood consumer may not pay much attention to it, but store signage is a big deal. People can’t buy stuff from a business if they don’t know it exists.

Restaurant co-owner John Sureemee invested $1,000 in new signage to improve the visibility of the small restaurant he and his wife purchased last July. They also worked with CEI to install a security light on a light post across the street to improve nighttime safety.

The couple lives in the adjoining building, and Sureemee said he hoped the signage the ABR approved would lead to an increase business and allow them to expand into the other half of the building which is currently vacant.

Feighan & Feighan -14516 Detroit Avenue  (Ward 3)Feighan & Feighan – 14516 Detroit Avenue  (Ward 3)

The ABR last month rejected the initial sign proposal from a group of lawyers who work out of a storefront across from Lakewood Hospital. The board felt the sign was too busy, and wanted to see a more classical design. A representative for the group said he would adjust the proposal and resubmit it this month.

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