Master developer sought for Hazelwood site
By Ron Daparma
Published: Friday, Aug. 31, 2007
Efforts to bring a $400 million development with housing, commercial space, community amenities and greenspace to a 178-acre former LTV Corp. coke works property in Hazelwood will move forward under new direction, officials said.
A master developer is being sought to spearhead development of the prime riverfront site since Cleveland-based developer Forest City Enterprises Inc. is no longer actively involved.
"By mutual agreement with Forest City, we've decided to move in another direction," Robert Stephenson, president of the Regional Industrial Development Corp., said this week.
The RIDC is the general partner in Almono L.P., a nonprofit partnership of four local foundations that purchased the site in September 2002. Buildout of the project is expected to take years and create 2,400 jobs.
Forest City, owner of Liberty Center, Downtown, and Station Square, in the South Side, had worked with the group to move the project forward. But it also became heavily involved in an effort to win state approval to build a slots casino at Station Square, losing out earlier this year to Majestic Star Casino's proposal to build a casino on the North Shore.
Stephenson said Forest City never signed a development agreement with the ownership group, which includes the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the Heinz Endowments, Richard King Mellon Foundation and the McCune Foundation.
Forest City officials could not be reached for comment.
"Forest City could still become involved at some point ... but now our focus is to find a new master developer," Stephenson said. "We're talking to a half a dozen different folks. Our objective will be to get a new developer by the fall and be able to start the planning approval process with the city in the early part of 2008."
The foundation owners and RIDC have decided that they no longer can wait to find out whether plans for the Mon-Fayette Expressway to go through the Hazelwood area will ever come to fruition.
Uncertainties about the roadway made it difficult to plan because one proposed path for the road could cut through a portion of the property.
"We're moving beyond that," Stephenson said. "We're taking the attitude that we are going to go ahead with planning."
Representatives of the Hazelwood community will continue to be involved in the process, he said.
"I think this is a good move on the part of Almono and the RIDC," said Jim Richter, executive director of the Hazelwood Initiative, a nonprofit neighborhood group. "I'm still excited about the project."
As described when it was announced in 2002, the project envisioned a mix of housing, offices, light industrial and university facilities, complemented by a blend of public park land, walking trails and other recreation and neighborhood amenities.
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