Orange Council Approves Application to Settle HR Gallery in Mixed-Use Zoning Neighborhood
ORANGE, Ohio — The Village Council has approved an application to install an RH Gallery within the Village’s Planned Mixed-Use Development (PM-UD) zoning district.
The application from Orange Place Development LLC – the RH-affiliated project developer – was accepted by the board on Wednesday March 9 based on its determination that the company would be a similar use to other permitted uses in this district of zoning.
RH, a high-end furniture company, is looking to open a mansion-like gallery in the Chagrin Highlands development.
Formerly known as Restoration Hardware and based in Corte Madera, Calif., RH is looking to build a $20 million facility at 4009 Orange Place. It would replace Slyman’s Tavern at this 2.4-acre site along Interstate 271.
The existing building would be demolished and Slyman’s would move to the adjacent Pinecrest Mall.
Orange Place Development’s application indicates that the proposed use of the three-story, 45,000 square foot building would be for interior design offices; showrooms for the display of furniture available for sale; a full-service restaurant or rooftop wine bar; and auxiliary offices and storage space.
A small amount of retail sales would be expected, the demand says.
A retail store is not a permitted use in the PM-UD zoning district, but the primary use of the proposed building would be an office, which is permitted, according to village chief legal officer Stephen Byron.
“There would be retail in the office building, but it’s not a retail store,” Byron said in an interview. “Although (RH sells) furniture and home furnishings, you cannot come in and buy a chair and take it home. You go there and order it and they ship it to you.
“The village planner, Planning and Zoning Commission and council have agreed that this is exactly the type of use compatible with office use. It looks much more like an office building than a retail establishment.
Ahead of council’s vote on Wednesday, a public hearing was held to consider a decision on the similar use application for the RH Gallery to be located in the PM-UD zoning district. No one spoke at the hearing.
On March 2, the council authorized the village to enter into an economic development agreement related to the redevelopment of this property.
A second order was also presented to council on March 2 that would implement a tax increment financing (TIF) agreement related to this project.
As part of the TIF agreement, a tax incentive is offered to Orange Place Development.
The Council considered this legislation at second reading on Wednesday but was unable to vote because not all conditions have yet been met to allow the TIF deal to go ahead.
Price Finley, a public finance attorney who advises the village on TIF matters, said ownership is still being transferred to the village by the current owner, ST Real Estate Holdings, a real estate investment group in Decatur, Ga.
Finley had told council on March 2 that because the project involves the redevelopment of an existing site, it is necessary for the village to take a “land ownership interest” in the plot as the first step in the TIF agreement. After that, the council can immediately return the package to the owner or another party at the request of the owner, he said.
Finley, a partner at the Bricker and Ecker law firm, also said the City of Warrensville Heights and the Warrensville Heights School District must both sign the proposed indemnification agreement before the council is able to act on this TIF order.
The ordinance states that as part of the agreement, the village must make semi-annual payments to the school district of 25% of the property taxes the district would otherwise have received from the improvement had it not been exempted pursuant to the prescription.
“I think everyone involved is trying to be diligent in this effort, but there are only a number of boxes (to tick) and, as you can imagine with the various parties involved, the logistics,” Finley said.
Council Chairman Brandon Duber asked if it would be acceptable for the council to wait until its next scheduled meeting on April 6 to vote on legislation to implement the TIF agreement.
“We haven’t heard anything to indicate that it needs to be expedited earlier than the regularly scheduled meeting,” Finley said.
“The disposal of the property is authorized by the ordinance which was adopted at the meeting (of March 2),” he added. “So all of these actions from the village perspective have been taken.
“It goes directly to ST Realty, as the current owner, and it creates the opportunity once we tick all the other boxes that we would be able to take the additional steps. But everything is going as planned. »
Planner recommends approval
On March 1, the Village Planning and Zoning Commission recommended that the petitioner’s request to determine a similar use in the PM-UD zoning district be granted by council.
The five-member commission includes Mayor Kathy U. Mulcahy and Councilman Judson Kline.
During this meeting, the village planner, Robert Brown, recommended that the application be approved because the proposed use of the property is similar to those permitted by the village’s zoning code.
In his report, Brown said the proposed use “represents a relatively new business concept.” He said the PM-UD district specifically permits office and restaurant uses that are proposed, adding that showrooms are a use considered in the zoning code to be compatible with office use.
“It is understood that a ‘retail store’ is not a permitted use in the PM-UD district,” he said. “The proposed HR development does not correspond to the common understanding of the nature of a retail store, in which merchandise is available ‘for immediate purchase and removal from the premises by the buyer’.”
The preliminary site plan and architectural drawings for the proposed project demonstrate that it is “a unified, large-scale development characterized by high-quality construction and site design,” Brown said.
“In this regard, the development meets the stated intention of the PM-UD (district),” he said.
“Based on the facts presented … it is concluded that all proposed uses are permitted either as the specifically listed permitted uses or as similar uses.”
The auxiliary offices and storage space that would be in the gallery were determined to be similar to those spaces in other buildings in the PM-UD district. It was also determined that such use would not negatively impact neighboring properties.
Byron said that had the council refused the similar use request, its decision would have been final in the village. If RH wanted to challenge the council’s decision, he should have appealed to the courts, he said.
“The Council views this use as appropriate to the region and beneficial to the economy,” he said. “So if the council didn’t want that to happen, they wouldn’t have given him an economic incentive and he would never have gone to court on the zoning issue.”