Westlake history: 1990-2011

The 1990s
In 1993, the Westlake Historical Society published a history of Westlake (and Dover) covering the period from 1930 through 1990 written by William M. Robishaw. The title of the book: “You’ve Come a Long Way, Westlake…and You’ve Got a Long Way To Go." Sometime between 1990 and 2011, the Westlake that we know today arrived!

In 1990 the population of the city was 27,018 – over double what it had been in 1960. Except for a service garage on Bassett Road, all city services were delivered primarily from one building – a one-story municipal building, constructed in 1953 at the corner of Hilliard Boulevard and Dover Center Road. The building contained all of the city’s administrative offices (except for the Law and Building departments which occupied houses next door) as well as the whole police and fire departments and all of the fire equipment!

The early 1990s saw the construction of several new city facilities including a police station and two new fire stations, as well as the acquisition of a city golf course, now called Meadowood, and the opening of a new city-owned west-side nature park off Bradley Road. The Promenade of Westlake shopping center brought a new array of shopping options to the west side of the city. In 1998, the city built an 80,000 square foot recreation center in the midst of an 86-acre park (and in 2006 added 19,000 square feet to it).

The 21st Century
By 2000, the population of Westlake had reached 31,719 and it reached nearly the 33,000 mark just five years later, with a comparable daytime population consisting of students, workers and retirees. In 2003, Porter Public Library expanded to 75,000 square feet, and a new city hall opened. That same year, Cleveland State University located its first ever satellite campus in Westlake and Cuyahoga Community College debuted its first Corporate College. The city's newly remodeled and enlarged center for seniors reopened in January 2004 with a new name: Westlake Center for Community Services.

The largest development in the city's history, Crocker Park, is a cutting-edge, mixed-use town center with retail, office and residential space. A part of Phase 1 opened in November 2004 adjacent to the Promenade, near the intersection of I-90, Crocker and Detroit roads. As originally approved by the planning commission and Council, it was planned to ultimately consist of 1.7 million square feet of development including the already-built Main Street with first floor shops and apartments and offices above. The civic core of this phase of development is a median park with fountains, chess boards and areas for community events.

By 2008, seventy percent of the original project was constructed or had final approval and the majority of the mixed use buildings containing retail, office and apartments had been constructed and occupied. In November 2007, voters approved an expansion of Crocker Park with another nearly 400,000 square feet of development, including a hotel, planned for the land east of the Promenade Shopping Center. That approval anticipated a total of 2.1 million square feet of development.

During the worst years of the “Great Recession,” development slowed but more recently the for-sale housing has seen a surge of sales and they continue to be constructed and sold inside the western perimeter of Crocker Park. The apartments have been fully occupied since their construction and the existing retail and office space is nearly all leased. A civic plaza and multi-purpose structure are planned as an additional venue for community events west of Market Street.

Other major facilities developed in the city in the last decade include: Hyland Software, which has renovated and occupied three existing corporate buildings and built a number of expansions to keep up with their explosive growth, Five Seasons Country Club, LA CENTRE conference facility, Dave & Buster's, University Hospitals Health System, Cleveland Clinic Lakewood Medical Center Phase Two, Premier Physicians Medical Office Building, Lutheran Home's Concord Reserve continuum of care campus, Westlake Service Center, Security Self Storage, Q-Lab, Crocker Corporate Center Office Building, and Paramount Tennis Club.

In December 2008, Crocker Road was connected with Stearns Road in North Olmsted to provide a long anticipated direct link between I-90 and I-480 and an easier way for Westlake residents and businesses to access the airport and Ohio Turnpike. 

In 2009, special design guidelines were incorporated for the Dover Village area of Westlake to build on the mid-century modern style of buildings in the historic center of town, and the city acquired additional open space there.

In 2010, a study of the city's commercial and industrial areas and trade area was done, which shows that the city's non-residential development is evenly divided between retail, office and industrial square footage. The city is also in the midst of updating its bike plan with the goal of making parts of the city more accessible and safe for pedestrians and cyclists.

The 2011 Bicentennial and Beyond
While the city celebrates its Bicentennial, the careful growth continues with Nordson Corporation's new headquarters occupied in December 2010 and Phase I of Cuyahoga Community College's new Westshore Campus now open. Work continues on Hospice House West and the relocation of a portion of Clemens Road to ease congestion at Crocker and Clemens Road. University Hospitals has begun a $100-million-dollar renovation of St. John Medical Center.

With the passage of an $84 million levy by the voters of Westlake in 2010, the Westlake City Schools will construct a new 230,000-square-foot high school and a new 100,000-square-foot middle school in 2011. The old middle school will be renovated into an intermediate school in 2012. Also planned are new and renovated elementary schools.

The biggest news in Westlake in 2011 was the announced relocation of American Greetings’ 2,000-employee headquarters to Crocker Park. The preliminary plans for this project include the addition of 700,000 square feet of corporate office buildings with first floor retail and reconfiguration of the plans for the southern end of Crocker Park, boosting the eventual build out of Crocker Park to just over 3 million square feet. American Greetings hopes to occupy their new world headquarters, called American Creative Studios, by 2014.

Today, Westlake residential land is almost built out. The community not only survived its residential boom years, it has positioned itself through careful fiscal and physical planning to remain a prestigious place for individuals, institutions, small businesses and large corporations to call home. Once a premier farming settlement, it is now a thriving, friendly, creative suburban community, taking the time to celebrate its history – it truly has arrived!

Read More on Westlake Bicentennial
Volume 3, Issue 22, Posted 11:34 AM, 11.01.2011