Developers are presenting a concept for housing on the site of the former Lake East Hospital

November 16 – Developers recently presented a concept to add housing to the former Lake East Hospital site and surrounding areas.

The concept was presented during a Painesville Planning Commission meeting on Nov. 9 by Munson Township-based Payne and Payne Builders, and depicted the construction of townhomes and single-family homes for a potential development called Highland Park.

City representatives and builders said the presentation was not a final proposal, and that more steps must be completed before any plans or housing additions can be approved.

According to Pine & Pine Division Vice President Brett Dawson, the developers intend for their homes to be worth in the $300,000 range.

During a conversation about density, he said developers want to fit in with the surrounding properties.

“We’re really trying to find a mix that really fits in with the existing neighborhood and feels like it belongs there and doesn’t have houses crammed in there,” Dawson said. “What we really hope to bring is just high-quality housing to Painesville.”

For the first phase of the project, developers are considering building two single-family homes on a vacant lot on the north side of East South Street.

Payne & Payne lead architect Mike Caito described the first house as a one-story “charming cottage” with a front porch and a two-car garage. The second house will be two floors.

Dawson provided an estimate of 1,800 square feet for the first potential home and 1,500 square feet for the second.

Caito added that the residences will be model homes. The “first elements” were under construction at the Willoughby factory as of 9 November.

The presentation showed that more homes would be built for phases two and three, although Dawson said the exact number of homes proposed was not known at the time.

He added: “We are actually still working on the first part of the projects, trying to sort out some of the municipal parts of it, public infrastructure, and things like that.”

A 2019 concept drawing shared by the city depicts housing construction on what is now vacant properties and parking along South St. Clair, East Washington, East High, East South and Liberty streets.

City Councilor Rita McMahon and City Manager Doug Lewis discussed some of the city’s intentions for the site during the meeting.

“This is the type of development that we expected, and the city expected, in this area, that restores the fabric of the neighborhood that was basically destroyed, in some ways, as a result of Lake Health purchasing the property for so many years and putting in parking lots,” McMahon said.

The city sought to include elements such as porches and rear garages “to kind of establish that neighborhood and create that historic look for housing,” Lewis said.

“With this, we were looking for a specific type of product,” he added. “I can tell you, over the years, we’ve worked with a number of different developers who couldn’t give us this product, and here Bain and Bain came in and said, ‘We’ll take a look at this product.'”

Lewis also mentioned other development projects in downtown Painesville, including student housing at the Lake Erie College tower in Painesville Square and the future mixed-use developments Victoria Place and Grand River Walk.

“The idea is to bring the largest number of people closer to the city center,” he said. “I think one of the things we have that is almost unique to Painesville is you can almost walk anywhere.”

Additional housing could attract “different services, different types of businesses downtown, more restaurants,” Lewis said.

“With the discussions already, with student housing and some other residential housing, we are already seeing interest from restaurants and different types of businesses within the downtown,” he added.

The Planning Commission considered updated regulations for the site during the meeting, allowing the construction of townhomes and single-family homes.

Commission members John Brad Dean, Jim Fialko, Carol Fleck and Mark Wainwright voted 4-0 to recommend that the City Council adopt the proposed changes.

The commission also voted 4-0 to recommend rezoning for a vacant property at 160 S. St. Clair St. From multi-family housing to downtown development, with matching other properties in the potential project location.

Both measures will be presented to the Council for approval.

City Planner Sarah Sitrel said the parcel’s zoning, development agreement and conditional use permit are among the items the city must approve before development can begin.

“There are still a few steps yet until full consideration of the overall Highland Park project, so you will all have an opportunity to review in kind again,” she told the committee.

“You probably won’t see anything happen until the first quarter of next year,” McMahon told the meeting attendees.

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