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Sustaining Your Center

Downtown Medina - Maintenance and Evolution

Downtown Medina, OH is the literal and cultural center of a small market area in the southwest corner of the greater Cleveland/Akron metro area. The City of Medina just celebrated its 200th anniversary and during that time period the community experiences all the normal urban development ebbs and flows of the 19th and 20th centuries.

But if by happenstance or concerted effort or both (usually both), the City of Medina has emerged strong and poised for the next generation of the community to reinforce its excellent small town urbanity, while also strengthening it. In order to foster the next stages of the community’s future, the City of Medina Administration has developed the following procedural philosophies and standard operating procedures.

Historic Preservation

· Find the balance between preserving the past and embracing the present and future.

· “Draconian” is a four-letter word

· A place’s history is a progression not a snapshot

· Use the same language, but the dialect can change

Specific plans are welcome – 2014 Downtown Strategic Development Plan

· Plan used market data for residential, office and commercial segments to determine a strategy for development.

o Great demand for 400+ luxury rental residential became a priority.

o Moderate need for flexible storefront space through small incremental increases.

o No need for dedicated office space as the effective market area was saturated.

· Plan conceptualized development on possible underdeveloped sites to demonstrate the market demands.

Reach for opportunities – America’s Best Communities Prize Competition

· Medina was one of the 50 ABC Prize Quarter-Finalists and the only one on northeast Ohio

· Created a Downtown Housing rehab plan to buy/rehab/resell housing in the old residential neighborhoods surrounding the downtown.

o Partner with others to execute a large downtown development to meet the needs of the market. Provide funds and assistance to build new missing middle housing.

· Medina didn’t win any of the grand prizes ($1 million, $2 million or $3 million), but we certainly wouldn’t have won if we hadn’t tried.

Solutions, not obstacles

· Business friendly City staff and processes

· Don’t be myopic with ‘deadlines’

· If it’s simple, don’t over think it with process

· Don’t assume the applicant has internalized your bureaucracy

Jonathan Mendel is the Community Development Director for the City of Medina, OH. He’s had an almost 20 year career as a public servant managing land use development, enforcement and economic development for several suburban governments in three metros in two Great Lakes states. He’s lived in and intimately experienced the wide range of human settlement from small town rural northern lower Michigan to high density world cities like the City of Chicago. He’s been a student of the evolutionary change of human settlement since a pre-teen looking through historical newspaper clippings at the local library.

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