Health of Forest City: not so Sterling

So here’s a blog I just discovered, Atlantic Yards Report:

This watchdog blog offers analysis, commentary, and reportage about Forest City Ratner’s planned $4 billion Atlantic Yards project, the largest ever in Brooklyn, to build a basketball arena plus at least 16 high-rise buildings. It follows up on my 9/1/05 report on New York Times coverage of the project and the TimesRatnerReport blog (links below).

The blog has been around since 2006 and has more than 2000 posts. It’s this one from today that came up in a google search I’d done on “plain dealer buyout” (see @chrisseper if you want to follow a bit of that; I spoke with a PD friend this week and heard through two others – it is just bad all around, all around; might be the only thing to get bloggers more vested in journalism though – that’s another post) that caught my eye:

As the stock of Forest City Enterprises (FCE) continued its mind-boggling fall–down nearly 18% yesterday to $3.42, a new low, and 93% for the year–the casualties have begun.

Yesterday, the Columbus Dispatch reported that Bayly Pointe, a project planned for 1000 acres in central Ohio, had been scrapped. Why? A letter from the company cited the poor economy and infrastructure issues.

But the tanking stock has to concentrate the mind. Either Forest City Enterprises is headed for oblivion or it’s a very good buy.

I’m not immune to arguments about the need for a company like Forest City to stay strong for the sake of the region and the people who live here. I know several people who work at Forest City. I don’t wish any of them ill and in fact, knowing them sometimes makes me a bit uncomfortable writing entries like this one.

But I live in a town that is saddled with a little something developed by Forest City called Sterling Lakes which, to the best of my knowledge, has done not one single exemplary thing for our city and continues to be something that causes negative ripple effects throughout the four or so towns around it, mine included.

Many of us – though obviously not enough of us or enough of us who were in elected office and had a final vote – objected to Sterling Lakes from the start.  We didn’t want the Porter property sold, we didn’t want it turned into a development and we didn’t want the development to be of homes that would primarily cost upwards of $800,000.  Even a few years ago, some of us just knew that this region and the economy would not sustain such a project.

So, I suppose I’m glad tht FCE can see that something like that Baylee Properties would be an absolutely absurd undertaking, but I still sting, as do many of my neighbors, about how the Sterling Lakes project and all that it’s not reaped was pushed on us.  I’ve never done an FOIA request for info on what exactly we have “gotten” from the building of that development.  Maybe a new year’s resolution.

9 thoughts on “Health of Forest City: not so Sterling

  1. Do you gage your interest related to who you are conversing with? I speak often in cryptic ciphers, can you see one in this?

    I appreciate your incite and observations, did you know that when Pepper Pike was founded in 1915 it was done by 150 residents. In the 1950’s it was developed as a bedroom community.

    It was part of Orange Township, I pointed out taxes because that is a driver, the developers and contractors and politicians all operate on the same set of drivers.

    The underling question is why does what was chartered as bedroom community have an overbuilt commercial area? The original 150 did not foresee that, Beachwood did better, they actually assigned space for that, perhaps they better understood planning. Pepper Pike prioritized lot sizes and also they wanted to reduce through traffic. Lots of cul-de-sacs, they share the winding roads of Shaker and Beachwood, but went one better.

    That and the lack of commerce to the east drove the values of the space on Chagrin and the drivers came into play. Regional government eliminates some of those drives, sales taxes go to the state and county. It’s the property taxes and income taxes that are drivers.

    Some of that property tax goes to the county, and they do have a planning department but they cannot propose developing outside of the municipality because of the tax drivers. If the boundaries did not exist then you could have had a more functional commercial district more than likely to the west and the quite isolation of what was intended maintained.

    I am very big on concentrated commerce geographically dispersed and centrally designated. With close in residential for those employed within and also rail service to other areas. Originally Pepper Pike had only rail service with a chagrin valley rail line. I see opportunity to resolve some obsolescence with the Randal Mall site and an extension of the Van Aken Rail though to Solon. That’s very feasible and also I am a big advocate of regional government based on defined districts that reflect the original townships. That being consolidating municipalities into larger sub-governments within a large county government.,_Ohio

  2. Okay Oengus – unless you are someone you aren’t telling me who you are, you really don’t understand the day to day travel patterns on the roads you’re writing about.

    And yes – the shutting down of Old B. forced N-S traffic to LANDER, yes, LANDER. Even the Mayor says he doesn’t take New Brainard to get to Chagrin or Eton or 271 – remember, Harvard is open – people avoid the 271 entrance from the east heading west on Chagrin by going south down Lander to Harvard and then on. 🙂

  3. Lander is the only N-S road and the changes to Brainard should not affect anything. The traffic on Lander were are they going?

    Chagrin or I-271…mostly to Chagrin since many can get to I-271 at cedar, the gripe is the disconnecting of Old Brainard nothing to do with the developement caused the traffic, they did not have to disconnect Old Brainard, that street already was built and the homes on the eastside of the street they are happy or not? Happy with less traffic, I would think. Is it bellcourt and all the dead ends culdisac? They now go east instead of west to brainard? I sugest they study a map. Short cut at eaton lane, maybe you guys can have a gated short cut installed behind the strip center?

  4. You’ve got some rationale ideas mixed in with some bad assumptions -I love where I am precisely because of how close it is to Chagrin – however, the traffic migration east to Lander as the main N-S thoroughfare is abominable and was foreseeable and was done only to accommodate Sterling. It did nothing to alleviate problems on Chagrin – that’s what should have been tackled before building Sterling rather than try to shield Sterling residents from what was already a heavily trafficked area.

    There’s a lack of real cooperation between the towns on some of these issues – not all. But for example, when there was a horribly pot-holed street and I called the city to complain and they said we’re waiting for the Smith Barney building to be completed, I said, well, what about the strip mall at the other end now by SOM and Chagrin and I was told that PP wasn’t asked about that at all – and yet it impacts the strip of Chagrin that is our entire school district.

    Stuff like that – when Sterling was just a thought/plan, I suggested that they be sure the school board was involved but no one really monitored it – I don’t know if they are now but I personally know people w/kids who live there – even though the Mayor and others swore that no one with kids would afford to or want to live in there.

    You know – it’s there – the trees aren’t coming back anytime soon – I just don’t want the same thinking to continue to control what happens here.

  5. Chagrin from I-271 through needs to be widened and everything on the South Side removed, and a parallel road built to accommodate cross traffic for the residential part that is Woodmere. The only intersections should be at Brainard, Orange Place and Belmont Road. They could also use a parking garage or two.

    Basically the area needs to be redeveloped, somewhat like Cedar Center.

    People many of them that are employed in that commercial area do not live in PP and certainly do not live east of that location. In so much the south side could be mixed market residential to get people that work in the commercial center to reside there as well. Why…less cars. The bartender at Brio could live across the street…I should ask him what he thinks?

    You are people oriented…I am object oriented also task oriented.

    I think I could have that side of the street, I would really enjoy running after and tackling the mayor of Woodmere. I think that accommodating affordable market housing would work well, perhaps some $600 a month one bedrooms or maybe cheaper then top them off with million dollar penthouse with private entrances.

    How do you like your diversity served up to you? How about a bit of economic diversity, till you get a taste for it. You know the domestics have to spend allot on gas to get to you guys, perhaps it is them that cause congestion on the traffic circle? Maybe you guys can build servant quarter on the property lord know you guys got the land.

  6. Old Brainard vs. new Brainard? They shifted the road to run parallel to I-271 not that radical and should not be causing trouble.

    Satellite image of the development:

    The real traffic and congestion is inherent at chagrin and related to Eaton Place…I do not think it has anything to do with this development. It has more to do with more people going to Eaton Place and Chagrin not being wide enough.

  7. Oengus – the traffic problems are legion since before it was built. I’m not blowing off your comment but there’s a great deal of history and evolving history that’s going along with completely unmet and fantasized expectations related to the development. I do apologize for not tackling each point you’ve made here right now but I’m guessing that you’re not aware that the state and feds gave money to construct a completely new street which makes a 1/4 mile trip into a mile or longer depending on where you’re coming from. Only a town like PP could justify increasing how far you have to drive around this gated community rather than leave things as they were, so that the SP folks have separate access and egress. Park Synagogue’s construction is connected to that new road construction as well.

    This road construction has resulted in pushing to the east what was a major N-S band of traffic that goes along heavily now on two-lane roads – primarily S.Woodland and Chagrin Blvd, plus a ridiculously nutty rotary that people refuse to drive through safely.

    If you really want to check into all the ripple effects, just review Pepper Pike City Council and other committee minutes. The traffic problems started immediately when SP began.

  8. I never paid that much attention to that development, thanks for pointing it out. I see that they are still at phase one. That’s all cluster and town homes and nothing over $500,000, which puts it at the market in the area?

    The development as many like it are not selling, without special financing most new construction is outside of the market prices. The bank and origination fees and contractor mark ups all gone. It was like one hand washing the other with capital. The high price creatively financed to a temporarily affordable price for more of the market that really exists, the “B” crowd gets access to the “A” market. Who wants to live in Pepper Pike does not want to live next to I-271, they are not looking for clusters, they want more yard and trees. That development was for the westerner attempting to attain the eastward migration status. With creative financing and the promise of endless appreciation it had a chance before reality came about, to attract those that desire the status, if only for appearance and that limited to those that really do not know better.

    What exemplary things would that development do?

    $10,300,000 in taxable property at 2.05%
    $211,150.00 in property tax for Phase one, annually.
    60% of that going to the Orange district schools
    21% of that goes to the county…helps the rest of us. J
    13% of that goes to the city.
    2.7% goes to the county library
    2.4% goes to the metro parks.

    That does not consider income taxes paid…one percent? Or a half of percent for those that work in another city…which I believe would be just about everyone.

    It does not nothing accept increase the revenue for the city. Unless the clusters get filled with breeders, then you have to hire more teachers and you will have to pay to burry the mountains of baby diapers and trash they generate. It will not increase the healthcare needs of the community, those peoples all got private insurances.

    It would not create traffic problems, they work 80hrs a week and will be driving west, why would they go east unless they want to drive on chagrin river road for the fun of it?

    I think who the hell wants to pay that much to live next to I-271? I think it should have been $189,000 to $250,000 and all built at once so somebody in the lower tax brackets really could get access to the Orange school district. How about some affordable rentals?

    Traffic problems? You have only 6,000 residents.

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