BLOG RECAP: Cheshire Lodge Among Issues on Council's Agenda

A look at issues discussed Monday by the Richmond Heights City Council.

The Richmond Heights City Council met Monday to discuss a variety of issues, including a blighting analysis as it relates to . The following is a look at the discussion as it happened.

8:18 P.M.: The council has voted to go into closed session.

8:17 P.M.: Erma Nevels is telling the council that she was startled to see a surveyor digging a hole near where she lives. Jones said he had experienced a similar situation in the past and that the digging was happening on an easement, not on his property.

8:13 P.M.: Reggie Finney, a Hadley Township resident, is asking why people were surveying in the neighborhood about a week ago. "Was the city aware of this, and why was there such a rush to do it on a Saturday and Sunday versus doing it during the week?" Finney said. Jones said it's his understanding that part of the surveying is done for tax purposes. Hamilton at least some of the work can be attributed to Mills Properties, which informed the city upon being contacted that it had been conducting the surveys for its own purposes and not in connection with a development project. "They walk onto other properties to survey the property," Hamilton said.

8:11 P.M.: The council also has heard the first reading of a measure regarding the .

8:10 P.M.: The council has heard a first reading of the bill that would establish a community improvement district around the Cheshire.

8:09 P.M.: The council is hearing a first reading of the bill that would deem the tract of land that includes the Cheshire as a blighted area. It will consider approving the measure April 4.

8:07 P.M.: A resident has commented that he thinks the city has sent out letters early with regard to cleaning up properties of debris that has fallen in them. Hamilton said she received a letter because of a branch that had fallen in an alley near her house. She said street inspectors recently walked the alleys.

8:04 P.M.: District 3 Councilwoman Gina Mitten recognized . He had been scheduled to become a member of the Maplewood Richmond Heights Board of Education. "He will be sorely, sorely missed," Mitten said.

8:01 P.M.: Councilmen Jones and Paul Lore have been recognized for 10 years of service on the council. "I just want to say it's been my pleasure, mostly," Lore said, eliciting laughter from the audience.

7:58 P.M.: The developer is asking that the city deem the Cheshire area to be in blight. It also is requesting the formation of a community improvement district. In those districts, a special sales tax is imposed.

7:57 P.M.: A blighting analysis has indicated that the Cheshire site is "an economic and social liability," Hamilton told the council. Among the issues at the location:

  • Age of the building. It's 47 years old.
  • Failure to maintain guest rooms over time.
  • Noncompliance with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
  • Asbestos in guest rooms.

7:53 P.M.: City Manager Amy Hamilton said the city has reviewed sales-tax projections for the site and thinks they appear to be accurate. "We do believe that the property will outperform the 2010 (tax-revenue) numbers, of course. … But how much of a benefit, we'll have to see," Hamilton said.

7:48 P.M.: Jones said that while the developer would have equity were sales taxes to drop, the city would be in a more difficult position. "If the whole economy goes down the tubes again, we're out $12 million," Cobler responded at one point.

7:45 P.M.: A total investment of approximately $12.4 is planned at the Cheshire for the site, Cobler said. That's up from about a $10 million investment discussed earlier in the planning process. District 2 Councilman Mike Jones is asking for details on sales-tax projections. "I want to make sure that the sales tax does not drop below what the documents say," said Jones, pointing out that sales tax generated depends on occupancy rates. 

7:35 P.M.: Craig Cobler, senior vice president of development for Lodging Hospitality Management (LHM) is giving an overview of the Cheshire Lodge's recent past and what the developers have planned for the site. Among other plans: A breakfast and bocce ball area located along Clayton Road.

7:34 P.M.: Mayor James Beck is calling the meeting to order.

7:16 P.M.:  The meeting is set to begin at 7:30 p.m.


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