Rating the Suburbs 2012: For the Business Savvy

Focusing on economic development bodes well for the city and its residents.


The glass façade of Eaton Corp.'s new $170 million headquarters sweeps through the Chagrin Highlands corporate park in a gentle arc. Construction workers and vehicles crisscross the site like a carefully orchestrated ant farm. The building has reached its full height and breadth, as the international manufacturer of electrical, hydraulic and mechanical power systems plans a late 2012 opening.

"When you've got a neighborhood that is being created here with the presence of the world headquarters of the Eaton Corp., we want the development to be progressive and well-thought-out," says James Doutt, the city's director of development.

Buildings in Beachwood are showpieces. Developers Diversified Realty's $25 million, 177,000-square-foot headquarters was a 2009 addition to the company's three-building campus. University Hospitals recently opened its $150 million Ahuja Medical Center, and its $13.5 million UH Rehabilitation Hospital is set to be done in October.

"Beachwood is not satisfied with the status quo," Doutt explains. "They want to aggressively go after economic development."

It's the reason Doutt is here in the first place. The city commissioned a study of its economic development, and one of the suggestions was to hire a director. Before April, Beachwood did its recruiting without one. The chamber of commerce worked with the city and surrounding communities to retain and attract a business base that's invested $325 million in growth within the city since 2008.

The result is a suburb featuring top schools (the high school is currently receiving a new wing), a 2 percent income tax rate and city services such as the Beachwood Family Aquatic Center, which replaced the 1960s-era lap pool with a resortlike 514,000 gallons of water, slides, sprinklers and pools.

"It's a very safe, well-run community," says Doutt. "I think business leadership senses that. The word gets out. That reputation is something that is a great form of advertising for the community. It's one business leader telling another business leader that this is a great little community."

Which, he notes, leads right back to a better quality of life for residents. "The property values of the community are enhanced by the vibrancy of the local economy," he says.

Neighborhood Hot Spot

"Woodside is the premier street in Beachwood. It's got the most expensive real estate. [The homes] are all beautiful," says Howard Hanna's Adam S. Kaufman of the houses along Bryden Road, Letchworth Road and Woodside Lane. "It's very scenic, and the majority of the lots are half an acre."

What You Get

Woodside Lane

Asking price: $899,900

Selling price: $815,000

Square feet: 5,000

No. of bedrooms: 5

No. of bathrooms: 4 and 2 half

Time on the market: 317 days

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