October 4, 2018 [Jeff Piorkowski/special to cleveland.com]
UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio — City Council on Wednesday approved legislation creating the University Heights Community Improvement Corporation.
The CIC is similar to what is known in other communities, such as South Euclid and Cleveland Heights, as a community development corporation.
“It benefits us in that we’ll have greater flexibility and be able to be more strategic in who we want to partner with in making University Heights what we seek for it to be,” said Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan.
CICs or CDCs are incorporated, non-profit organizations that provide programs or engage in activities that promote or strengthen the community. Often, such organizations work to improve a city’s housing stock.
“It’s an economic development driver,” said Councilwoman Michele Weiss, who chairs council’s Governmental Affairs Committee, which discussed the CIC and sent it to full council for a vote.
Weiss explained that a CIC’s board officers, unlike government bodies such as city councils, are permitted to meet privately with entities with whom a city might choose to do business.
“Not that it’s secretive,” Brennan said. “What is discussed is public record. But it allows us to meet with those who we might want to work with.”
Further, with a CIC working on behalf of the city, projects do not have to go through the normal bidding process, which can sometimes allow for better deals for the city.
South Euclid’s CDC, named One South Euclid, has established the “Build, Grow Thrive” program. In this program, South Euclid City Council grants One South Euclid (in conjunction with the Cuyahoga Land Bank) homes that have been foreclosed upon. One South Euclid then sells the properties to buyers, who make significant upgrades and sell the properties to new homeowners.
The process allows One South Euclid to make money to undertake other positive programs and helps keep the city’s housing stock stable and out of the hands of investors and speculators.
One South Euclid also offers, among other things, a Neighborhood Grant Program, in which property owners are aided in improving their homes or land, and a Storefront Renovation Program. It also holds each September at the city’s Quarry Park North a Harvest Fest event, in which residents gather to celebrate the city’s community gardens and living a healthy lifestyle.
With University Heights council’s approval gained, Brennan will next file the appropriate articles of incorporation for the University Heights CIC. A seven-member board will be established and will include Brennan, Vice Mayor Susan Pardee, two at-large council members and three residents.
Brennan said he expects the board to be functioning before the year ends.
It was in February that University Heights council hired Guide Studio to work with city leaders and residents to form a new brand for the city.
Brennan said the city’s new, modern logo will be unveiled and, along with the branding program, be discussed at the Oct. 15 City Council meeting.
“It will replace the door knocker (the city’s current logo) on city letterhead, all signs, on vehicles and on city uniforms,” Brennan said of the new logo.
The branding effort will also seek to make people from outside the community more aware of University Heights.
“It will help make people aware that we’re a beautiful city located 10 minutes from University Circle and I-271, that our houses are historic and beautiful, and that we’re a great place to raise a family,” Brennan said.
Increased business within the city is another hoped-for result of the branding campaign.
Brennan, new Economic Development Director Susan Drucker, new Communications and Civic Engagement Coordinator Michael Cook, and Community Development Coordinator Patrick Grogan-Myers met this week with Guide Studio’s Gina Gerken to discuss the final draft of the new city branding, logo and positioning.
“There will be a presentation at the next City Council meeting to the council for what I hope will be council approval of the result,” Brennan said at the start of Wednesday’s council meeting. “Presuming that approval, we intend to begin rolling out the new branding in conjunction with the Civic Awards Dinner scheduled for (6:30 p.m.) Nov. 14 (at John Carroll University). Attendees can expect to leave that event with something bearing the new city logo.”
The deadline to nominate outstanding University Heights residents for recognition at the awards ceremony has been extended to Oct. 12. Tickets for the event cost $25. Call 216-932-7800.
University Heights magazine coming soon
Also on Wednesday, council approved money for a new, glossy University Heights magazine that will be delivered to each resident’s home.
The magazine will be produced by the Cleveland Jewish Publication Co., which also creates magazines for the cities of Lyndhurst and South Euclid and publishes the Cleveland Jewish News.
Drucker said there will be three issues of the University Heights magazine produced per year. The first will be delivered at the end of February or early March 2019. The second will come out in mid-May and the third in November of next year.
Thirty percent of all advertising sales will be given to the City of University Heights. Each issue will cost the city $5,500, plus postage. Drucker said that about $1,000 per issue in ad revenue will be returned to the city.
“This gives us the opportunity to reach the community, in addition to the city newsletter,” Drucker said. “This is not meant to be a replacement for the city newsletter.”
The magazine will have as many as 32 pages and will include items about the city’s office holders, businesses, interesting residents and other things city leaders believe are important.