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State of University Heights in 2024

Mayor Brennan builds up to new plans for construction in the city
Michael Brennan
Mayor Michael Brennan at State of The City 2024

Every year, the mayor of University Heights hosts a meeting to discuss the upcoming period of growth and development for the city. Embracing the theme “no time like the present,” Mayor Michael Brennan discussed the state of University Heights and revealed a slew of plans underway for the future. 

First, when talking about his goals for 2024-2025, he reminisced on a local Torah parade he attended, and how, in walking this parade with one of University Heights’ oldest residents, he “danced and we spoke of community, and how appreciative we are of each other.” 

In highlighting this lived experience, he reminded the audience that when in a community, people have to come together across divides. With cries for the mayor to be recalled, Brennan discussed togetherness which appeared to be a tactful action in the face of this controversy. 

Looking to move forward on serious projects for the next year, Brennan was emphatic in his assertion that “It is the legitimate role of the government to do for people what they cannot do for themselves, or do for them what can be done better together, through the government.” The next updates he would give would all be within this theme, justifying the plans created under his administration. 

University Square updates

According to Brennan, earlier in the year, plans were finalized for the sale of the University Square lot and all of its properties to make way for a modern business space, starting with a new parking garage. Brennan stated that the previous owners “came to terms for the sale of University Square, to proceed with the 2019 plan for redevelopment.” 

To start that five-year-old project, a $500,000 investment would be needed from University Heights for the redevelopment of the parking garage. As of April 9, the plan was approved by Cuyahoga County. 

“The aging, blighted garage will be kept in code compliance” Brennan stated, adding that an additional $100,000 would be set aside for surrounding maintenance and other projects regarding University Square common areas. 

In terms of the retail spaces themselves, such as the Target or former Tops Friendly Market, the upper levels would be “redeveloped into apartments” and the lower deck would become “first-floor retail space.” 

New Restaurants

Brennan also stressed the importance of redeveloping other business places outside of University Square. To show his administration’s serious focus on business, the city turned to the brand new Lefty’s Cheesesteak. 

On the site of an abandoned auto body shop, unoccupied since 2008, a new location of Lefty’s Cheesesteak will be developed. This is especially intriguing as the establishment is partly owned by Deshaun Watson, the infamous Cleveland Browns quarterback. This restaurant, opened at a grand ceremony on April 9, was only the first of two small businesses that Brennan fought to develop. 

Underway this summer will be the new Pizza Modo restaurant at 13483 Cedar Road, which will bring more dining revenue to University Heights while cleaning up previously unattractive storefronts. 

John Carroll and University Heights

With much praise from Brennan, John Carroll’s own President Alan Miciak was recognized as a key partner in improving the community and that in the future they would collaborate to “continue to work with JCU to make the best decisions.”

Brennan announced that throughout all of these projects, whether regarding University Square, small businesses, or the redevelopment of housing on Warrensville Center Road, Brennan stressed the importance of being together as a community and building toward the future. 

“We are only guaranteed today,” Brennan stated, and when applying that to his tenure as Mayor of University Heights, he wants the community to know he means business when it comes to creating a better future for the city. 

Brennan also has plans that will affect student housing at JCU. “The end of student retail housing on Warrensville Center road segways us to the next municipal project, we are weeks away from the new zoning code” creating a high-density residential zone “from John Carroll Blvd. to the end of Silsby Road.” His remark was met with applause and approval from residents, though there were few JCU students in attendance to object. 

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