The look and attitude of Solon’s downtown retail trade area is about to dramatically change — and for the better. The redevelopment of 8.5 acres along Aurora Road, a project expected to break ground this year, will bring housing, restaurants, shopping, lodging and all-important green gathering space to the area. Think shoppers relaxing in a parklike setting, meeting coworkers at a brewpub after work or enjoying an outdoor art show in the summer.
Angee Shaker, director of economic development for the city, calls the project “transformational” and “mind blowing.” And, while all aspects of the development are welcomed, the new housing (209 apartment homes in two separate buildings) particularly falls neatly into the city’s current plans.
“Our big economic projects in the next one to five years are focused on increasing the diversity of our housing stock,” Shaker says. “We have a wonderful mix of single-family homes and duplexes, from starter homes to houses for growing families to luxury homes, but we need more options for young workers and empty-nesters.”
The District in Solon
With a working title of The District in Solon, this major project is being led by RHM Real Estate Group and a team of experts put together by RHM’s founder and CEO John Joyce. The team includes Steve Passov, Passov Real Estate Group; Bobby Krueger, Krueger Group; and Doug Leohr and Tim Courtad, Pride One Construction. In addition, Norr, an international architecture and engineering firm, has been chosen for the project.
Along with the apartment homes, 20,300 square feet of in-line and freestanding retail will be created. Also proposed is a 14,000-square-foot innovative food hall and an approximately 100-key high-end hotel.
“Most importantly, this project will have ample green space and gathering areas for residents and neighbors in its center,” says Joyce. “There will be a 1.5-acre, heavily landscaped boulevard entry with areas of seating. We’ll be able to do small concerts and different festivals, invite food trucks, maybe hold a farmers market. It will be a vibrant gathering place and a backyard for every resident in Solon.”
According to Shaker, the proposed project will be a game-changer for the City of Solon. “Most of the area is made up of a vacant car dealership and is an eyesore for the community. Soon, it will be a beautiful destination area,” she says.
In addition, the District’s proposed hotel, according to Spark Hotels President Amit Patel and company COO Bhavesh Lad, will be “an upscale, lifestyle hotel catering to corporate and leisure guests who come through Solon.” Hotel plans include ample meeting space, a fitness room, a bar and a large, enhanced lobby area customized to reflect the tastes and needs of the Solon community.
“Solon is a spectacular community with beautiful homes, a wonderful group of elected officials, a top-notch school district and a close relationship between residents and business, but it lacked a central downtown area in the heart of the city,” Joyce says. “This project will change that and also be a catalyst for further economic development.”
Hawthorne Golf Estates
It was an emotional day when the 90-year-old Hawthorne Valley Country Club closed permanently in 2018. Not only were longtime members saddened, but many Solon residents worried that a community green space would be lost forever.
But sometimes things just fall into place, like a hole in one. The creation of Hawthorne Golf Estates, with its proposed 102 attached single-family homes on 32 acres, will bring much desired 50-and-over housing to Solon. In addition, the purchase of an adjacent 149 acres by Cleveland Metroparks for its South Chagrin Reservation will ensure continued land preservation.
“This is a wonderful and unique opportunity for residents who have lived in the community for many years and who want to stay there. They want to move out of their houses into smaller homes that require less upkeep and have all the landscaping and groundwork taken care of,” says Larry Apple, project manager for Hawthorne Golf Estates. “They will have a brand-new house in a brand-new community. That’s hard to find in a city that is already built up.”
Homes will have at least 1,500 square feet of living space plus two-car garages. Most will have first floor primary bedrooms. Sales are expected to begin in fall 2023, with the first homes completed in 2024.
Solon Community Living
Solon Community Living is scheduled to break ground on a new project midyear that, when completed, will become an extraordinary residential community for adults with developmental disabilities and caregivers. The pocket neighborhood will consist of six homes with ADA-compliant suites for 14 people. Six caregiver suites will be available on second floors. In addition, there will be a clubhouse that will allow for socialization, a teaching kitchen, library/sensory area and outdoor terrace.
“With the pocket neighborhood concept, the homes all face the green, allowing for socialization and extra safety,” says Ara Bagdasarian, who, with his wife, Leslie, founded Solon Community Living, a nonprofit organization, in 2015 to create quality, accessible housing opportunities. “Our location is also very important,” he adds, noting that it’s walkable to the Solon Community Recreation Center, Solon Community Park, library and shopping. “As a community, Solon has many different amenities.”