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New Owner of Shoppes at Northway Outlines Preliminary Plans to Standing Room Only Crowd

Akron-based Levey and Company envisions a mixed-use facility featuring restaurants, retail, office space, and entertainment.

Representatives of Akron-based Levey & Company, which bought the Shoppes at Northway earlier this week, and have an agreement to buy the former spoke to a standing only room crowd Wednesday night about the developers' plans for the mall, and the adjacent school property. 

The meeting was held on the upper level of the mall, outside the entrance to the Dick's Sporting Goods store.

Gary G. O'Nesti, special projects director for Levey & Company, said first and foremost, the company was seeking to rezone the Northway Elementary property from residential to commercial. That application is scheduled to go before the Ross Township planning commission on Dec. 20.

O'Nesti told the crowd of over 200 mostly nearby residents that plans for the mall and school property are in the very preliminary stages and he hopes many of the current tenants are part of the new mall.

"It's a mixed hybrid facility. We've talked with seven to eight tenants so far," he said. "This is a very desirable location, what we need to do is work through the process. We're talking to everybody, and that's what we need to do at this point."

Many in the audience expressed concern about increased traffic, particularly if the current entrance to Northway Elementary off of Brown's Lane becomes another access point for the new mall.

Commissioner Peter Ferraro tried to ease those fears.

"We recognize there's a lot of concerns from the residents and we intend to address all these concerns that you have," he said. "The traffic on Brown's Lane will at the forefront of the discussions we will have with Levey and company. We'll do whatever we can to alleviate the congestion that you are concerned about on Brown's Lane."

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Will residents have a say in what happens?

O'Nesti: "The most important thing that we can do is to listen to what you have to say. The thing that I think everybody understands is that you grew up with this mall, it's been here all these years, and you know how it functions. What we don't want to do is to come in and make it function differently, or create something that may be detrimental to not only to us, but to the neighborhood."

Q: When will the work begin?

A: It will be at least 18 months before any real construction work begins.

Q: What will be built on the Northway Elementary Property?

A: No decisions have been made yet.

Q: Will there be a Wal-Mart?

O'Nesti: "We have talked to a number of big box retailers, we have not had any discussions with Wal-Mart on this particular project and this particular location."

Q: How is Levey & Company going to succeed where the previous owners of the mall failed?

O'Nesti: What has to happen here is that we need to be innovative and creative with the mall. We have to evaluate what the shortcomings have been, and how we make those shortcomings better. How we create a better atmosphere for retail? It's got to be studied and done and done right. Then we have to have our discussions with the appropriate retailers and Ross Township to understand what we can and cannot do, and then try to make the project work. We're confident that we can do that, that's really what we do. That’s what we're real good at. 

Q: With McCandless Crossing just north of the Shoppes at Northway, is there really enough demand for even more retail development?

O'Nesti: "Clearly there's enough demand for that kind of development around here."

Q: What will be included in the new Northway Mall?

O'Nesti: "It'll be a mixed use development with retail restaurants hopefully, entertainment, something that will enhance the property and enhance the environment for shopping in the area and on this property. That's part of the challenge to work through that and then get it to work and get the facility to operate appropriately."

Q: Why did Shoppes at Northway fail?

Kevin Fallon, Vice President of Development, Levey & Company: "When you first come to this facility, as I did, I was dumbfounded. I felt like I was in Alice in Wonderland and I just walked into a rabbit hole. Office space buried here, there are huge footprints of retailers everywhere, and it was just all cobbled together. I think that's part of the problem. I think somebody has to take a step back and plan for a well-thought out, well-planned retail mix and pedestrian mix, and figure it out."

Q: What will the new mall look like?

A: A few preliminary drawings were presented. The architects for the project are Cupkovic Architecture of Cleveland. Click here to see some of their previous work. 

Reaction

Peter Ferraro: "For Northway mall, in my opinion, it's a godsend because this mall is dying. If you can't recognize that, you are missing the boat. I've lived here for 42 years, and I can see how it's on the decline. The last thing you want to have is an empty mall. Development is just going to go further north. They'll be up at McCandless Crossing. And your tax base is going to erode and your taxes will increase. I don't want to see anyone's taxes raises. Now we see an infusion of McKnight Road properties. I would venture to say that in the next couple of years you would see a decrease in your taxes."

John Schalcosky, President of Ross Township Historical Society: "I think it's great what they're doing, bringing it back to life, especially since it's been dying for so long. For historic reasons, for a mall to be a mall, that's what's important. As for the traffic problems, what about when the mall was an active mall? I mean really. It's not going to impact it that much."

John Franko, nearby resident: "I'm all for it, I've been coming to this mall for 45 years and I do agree that something has to be done for it. I hope it's successful and I wish them luck, but I'm waiting to see what they do with the traffic."

Craig Linner, President of Ross Economic Development: "I think it's a great idea. I think we need it. I think the issues that were brought up were legitimate, but I think what we need to realize is that when this mall was an ongoing concern, and when the school was up and functioning as a school, there was a lot of traffic then. We don't have that level of traffic now and we could just go back to what it used to be. I think either way if we address the traffic issues this mall is important to the community.

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Did you attend the meeting? What do you think of these plans? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

John Schalcosky December 07, 2012 at 04:22 PM
There is nothing at all in their plans about an added entrance off of Marie Drive. They are using ONLY the existing entrances which are - 3 off of McKnight, 1 off of Corbett Ct, Northway Mall Drive off of Browns Lane, and 2 off of Babcock Blvd. That really makes a total of 7 entrances that already & have always existed. Why is everyone complaining where there is so many alternate ways to enter the mall. I understand everyone's frustration that live in Swan Acres & off of Marie Drive & Browns Lane BUT how is this different than the past 50 years? There has always been a mall there & people have always used their own ways of getting there. The fact that alot of you live next to the mall (by the way - I'm withing walking distance myself) we all knew what we were getting into when we moved that close to it. All this complaining in my opinion is totally out of context. What's wrong with progress?? Would you rather live next to a dead vacant mall? Plus having a new crowd coming to the mall would hopefully force stricter police presence to help solve some of your concerns about speeding & accidents. Plus the county will now take into effect the added traffic and will improve the roads. Unlike most people on here - I've had multiple private meetings with both the real estate developers and the architects & I have complete confidence that this is going to be SO great for not just the township but for ALL of the people of Ross & the surrounding communities.
Richard December 07, 2012 at 07:16 PM
John, It would be Very Nice if the Mall Owners would dedicate a free space to you to display historical Memorabilia of the North Hills area for all to see and enjoy ! Doesn't hurt to ask.
John December 07, 2012 at 07:43 PM
To say that more development of the mall won't bring more traffic is just being ignorant. Plain and simple. The idea is to bring more people in. All I know is that there are already times when there are two or three cars backed up at stop signs in my neighborhood. It is getting worse. I'm as attached to the mall as anyone on here and I want to see it continue in some way. But I have the right to be concerned about traffic, which can impact the quality of life and the property values of a neighborhood. People always support progress when it isn't in their backyard. Ask the people in the neighborhoods north of Perrymont Road what they think of the McCandless Crossing development.
Tami December 07, 2012 at 09:35 PM
My biggest fear is the school bus stop at the top of Marie Drive. The children barely have enough space to stand SAFELY now. Every morning when I leave for work I see them standing partially on Browns Lane or across the street in Northway Elementary driveway. What will happen when this development takes off? I too hope this mall revitalizes the area but am concerned for the safety of the children from Keown Heights. I was unable to attend the meeting and was hoping to see this issue addressed. Since Mr. Ferraro lives in our neighborhood, I am hoping this issue, as well as the traffic concerns, are addressed.
bob haller December 07, 2012 at 11:38 PM
John S you claim you were at the same meeting I was... During that meeting the developer said no extra entrances, But as someone pointed out their drawings showed the school entrance being changed to a mall entrance. the developer said its only a drawing..... now wouldnt you as a developer create drawings of what you want? I do wonder where the hotel rumor started? they just said it wasnt decided yet, and spent lots of time stating screening would block most but not everything from browns lane. That would fit with a hotel becase they are generally multi story. John can you get those developer drawings put on the net somehow? So you will and everyone will see the school entrance being changed into a mall or hotel entrance?? I am sure all the local residents will be thrilled with a hotel and its traffic in their neighborhood:(

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