Greetings Solon Neighbors and Friends:
It is with great pleasure and appreciation I share an update on our growing business community and some important upcoming city projects.
The Solon business community was and continues to be put to the test since the Coronavirus shutdowns in March of 2020. We have watched our large and small businesses adapt and reinvent themselves for survival. Many of them are owned by our friends, family, and neighbors. The way our community came together to support our businesses and each other is exactly what supports our reputation as a strong and vibrant community.
Even while we are all dealing with a global pandemic, the majority of our businesses have been able to hang on and 17 new businesses opened in 2020. Six have opened already during the first quarter of 2021 and more are on the way.
Digital Room, the largest upload web-to-print business in North America is located at 30500 Bruce Industrial Parkway and will provide 60 new jobs over the next 3 years.
Wrap Tite, a packaging & shipping supply company, is expanding operations at 6250 Camp Industrial Rd (former Schwebel’s building) and will hire an additional 51 employees over the next 3 years. Also, our largest employer, Swagelok, will celebrate the opening of its Global Headquarters and Innovation Center early this summer.
Pop Culture CLE, owned by Solon native Nicole Dauria, is a dessert shop destination opened in the historical district after building renovations are completed. Delicious ice cream cookies and cold popsicles will be available for your consumption.
Investing in Solon’s future:
Quality of life aspects are of prime importance when choosing a place to live or open a business. Diverse housing options, quality schools, nearby shopping and restaurants, and active streetscapes – the ability to safely walk and bike are all part of the package.
Solon is a family-oriented community with an up-scale suburban reputation. We have a top-ranked school district, engaging arts and recreational activities, a thriving business community, access to the best healthcare and 1,200 acres of Cleveland MetroParks. However, most of these top-notch amenities are only safely accessible by car.
In the 1960’s, the City of Solon created a comprehensive zoning plan that separates our industrial, commercial and residential areas. The plan was designed around cars, not people.
Research shows that people now prefer to be closer to work, shopping, restaurants, entertainment and outdoor gathering spaces. Making our city more connected and walkable will be a terrific investment in not only our health and wellness, but also our future economic growth as a city, and it is also better for our environment.
Outdated street design standards and building and zoning codes have led us to uncomfortable and unsafe streetscapes. Watching our middle school and high school students walk to Pulp or Starbucks after school and navigate their way through the retail center exemplifies a design for cars, not people.
Now is the time to reverse decades of counterproductive practices and welcome a new era of street life in Solon. As our City Engineer John Busch states, “we continue to make improvements with each new infrastructure project.” Previous road designs can be repurposed to create safer conditions for drivers and pedestrians. “The Aurora Road Phase I Project which is planned for 2022 will have a big impact on walkability because it will connect the City’s Community Center and Community Park, as destination points, to other areas of the City. The reconstructed Aurora Road will include a tree lawn to separate the multi-purpose paths and sidewalks from the road, making it safer and more comfortable for biking and walking.”
People of all ages vastly favor communities with street life. When the weather is nice and Solonites want to experience outdoor walking and shopping, Pinecrest, Eton Place, Chagrin Falls and Legacy Village become more attractive than any shopping experience we currently have in Solon. We have an opportunity, especially with the recently rezoned mixed-use development site, to create our own walkable downtown area. We can be a community where our kids want to come back to live after they graduate from college. We have most of the amenities the best cities in the country have to offer. We need to connect them.
The growing demand for pedestrian-friendly places is reflected in the interest in the walk score. Solon’s is 11; that is very low. Walk score is a popular selling point for real estate agents. This will become even more important in our future. Houses located in highly walkable neighborhoods command between $4,000 and $34,000 more than similar houses. (Source: “Walking the Walk: How walkability Raises Home Value in the U.S. Cities, CEOs for Cities, 2009)
Walkable streets encourage business activity, generate greater tax revenue per acre and offer a higher return on investment.
According to our results from our recent Solon Connects Current Conditions survey, 65% of Solonites said the reasons they do not bike or walk is because they feel unsafe. When asked what changes they would like, 57% responded that they would like pedestrian friendly developments. 77% of respondents agreed with the statement that it is important Solon focus on being a bike/pedestrian friendly community.
Bike and trail network
The City of Solon has immense potential for becoming a key interconnection for bicycle travel. While 54% of existing trails within the community are located along Hawthorn Parkway within the Cleveland Metroparks, there are nearly 15 miles of proposed trails that would connect residents to an expansive regional network. Additionally, there is a Cuyahoga Greenways Critical Gap located just to the west of Solon, along the border of Oakwood and Glenwillow. This small trail section is roughly a quarter mile in length and would provide users access to hundreds of miles of trails within northeast Ohio and beyond. In addition to all-purpose trails, the City of Solon also has nearly 10 miles of bike lanes within the community. These bikes lanes can be found along Aurora, Bainbridge, Liberty, Brainard, and Harper Roads. These ultimately connect to both all-purpose trails and bicycle friendly roadways in immediately adjacent communities.
The City has secured grants totaling $849,208 for the proposed Solon to Chagrin Trail. The entire Solon portion of the trail route is owned by the City.
The proposed Cleveland to Youngstown (Norfolk Southern line) regional multipurpose trail runs approximately 6 miles through the center of Solon, including through the central retail district. This trail potentially will run approximately 72 miles from Cleveland to Youngstown and to connect with the existing 8.2-mile Headwaters trail in Portage County. The Cleveland to Youngstown trail would provide a much needed east west connection within the larger regional trail system and would further connect Solon to communities throughout northeast Ohio.
Solon Connects Plan:
The City is collaborating with the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission to develop the Solon Connects Bike and Walkability Plan. It is intended to help the city create a master plan for implementing a fully connected Solon. Solon residents and the business community have been involved in the plan through surveys, focus groups and a town hall. Information on another town hall will be coming soon. Visit this website to learn more: Solon Connects: https://www.countyplanning.us/projects/solon-connects/