RFP - Request For Partners in Redevelopment of Coventry Elementary School and PEACE Park

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Fri, 11/07/2008 - 15:54.

The October 30, 2008 Sun Press lead cover story article (strangely... not on-line) was: "New Uses For Coventry? Music School Settlement, day care, and charter school send letters of interest". This reported, "The Intergenerational School's proposal also listed several partners: Richard Fleischman Architects, of Cleveland, Star Neighborhood Development, of East Cleveland, Strategic Resource Consultants, of Cleveland Heights, and City Fresh Cafeteria, Fresh Stop and Market, of Cleveland". "Fleischman would serve as design architect, while Star Neighborhood Development and Strategic Resource Consultants would likely be development partners...". "That proposal would also include a 1.5 acre "Urban Farm"...". I submitted the proposal, a public document, highlighted below and attached as a PDF, and can say the Sun Press report is largely correct, but the story is far from complete, and far more exciting than the Sun brings to light.

Our plan is to maintain the highest and best use of the property, as a school and park, which will feature The Intergenerational School, and a City Fresh Fresh Stop, and local foods in other innovative ways, including farming 1.5 acres of the 6+ acre Coventry Elementary site, as part of a comprehensive, regional local foods development initiative. Other important planning partners not mentioned are Joe Stanley, of NEO Mainstreet, and Bill MacDermott, of Cleveland Solar and Wind.

Other local foods Star Neighborhood Development plans include for a Suburban Farming Institute and the Severance Farms, at the Millikan School site, also in Cleveland Heights...

...a local foods processing plant and urban farming school, at the former Hough Bakeries, in Cleveland and East Cleveland...

...a local foods convenient store, at Brown's Market... a local foods supermarket and distribution plant, at the former Topps Market, at Garret Square, Cleveland.... and 100s of acres of urban farmland around the region.

I post about this here because the most important part of our vision and plan for Coventry Elementary is to make it the greatest possible asset to the immediate Coventry Village neighborhood, the surrounding community, Cleveland Heights, and all other stakeholders, and that requires open planning, and community engagement, and receptiveness to other visions and plans

We began the planning of this project through open brainstorming of a few partners, and we welcome more partners into our planning, if they may help make this more valuable for all. We are especially interested to connect with people and organizations that may be interested to offer any programs or services from a portion of Coventry Elementary School (e.g. the Media Center, Art Studio, Gymnasium, Conference Room, Cafeteria, a classroom) part time - a few before or after school hours a day or week... on weekends... even late at night - rent as you go co-op basis. The requirement is that any programs or services compliment the other users of the complex, the neighborhood, and the community, with an appreciation this is an Intergenerational Living and Learning Center that will be used at all hours by people of all backgrounds and ages.

Take a look at the executive summary and details provided below and feel free to post your comments here, and to contact me directly if you want to discuss any ideas - norm [at] realneo [dot] us. Note, we will be submitting an updated proposal for Coventry Elementary on November 17th, so speak now or forever have your peace with what is planned.

Executive Summary:

Our proposal is to maintain the Coventry Elementary School site and facility at its highest and best use, as a school, in appreciation of changing community and neighborhood needs, interests, and demographics, which are aging and becoming more diverse. The site as a school offers cultural benefits and environmental amenities for the Coventry Neighborhood and Northeast Ohio that are not possible with any other use.

We propose to redevelop Coventry Elementary School to include The Intergenerational School in approximately 22,500 square feet of dedicated space, an approximately 5,000 square foot Intergenerational Preschool, and a 2,500 square foot City Fresh cafeteria, “Fresh Stop” and Market, all as the anchors of a 50,000 total square foot Intergenerational Learning Center, also offering other complimentary neighborhood learning programs and resources consistent with your RFP, and featuring a 1.5 acre “Urban Farm”.

We shall preserve and protect the landmark building, with little modification, as an efficient, innovative, open, 60,000+ learning environment by one of the world's leading modern architects, Richard Fleischman – the design and construction are very special enablers for learning innovation and excellence, ideal for the intergenerational learning model.

All architecture and design work will be performed by Richard Fleischman, a partner in this proposal. He is best qualified to modify the site and building he designed 30 years ago, as needed, in appreciation for any special needs now, and from three decades of change in technology and learning methods.

Other Highlights (I've left out the financial assumptions and team bio info, which is in the attached PDF):

The Intergenerational School is globally recognized as one of the most innovative and best schools of its type in the world. Their history, success and bright future are well appreciated among area education leadership in the region, and they are supported by a variety of international foundations and agencies – all this is documented at http://tisonline.org.

We propose to move TIS 2 miles, from their present location at Fairhill Center, to Coventry Elementary, for the 2009 school year. All the current students would relocate with the school, and there is a waiting list for future enrollment, so this move would not draw any students from Cleveland Heights schools, other than for openings in the preschool... which will be limited.

A new Limited Liability Corporation will be formed to lease the school from the school board and operate the facility for TIS and the other partners, which will contract for use of the space with this LLC. However, it is not anticipated there will be significant modifications to the facility for the specific needs of TIS – it is a good fit with their learning model. The same applies for the Preschool, and City Fresh Market.

The space in the building not dedicated exclusively to one of the partners will be shared by all the partners and other program and resource providers, as determined by a selection committee. It is anticipated and indicated there is a strong market for space in this neighborhood for meetings, classes, physical education, and socialization which will be well enabled by before and after school use of a significant portion of the building, including the gymnasium, cafeteria/community room, media lab, library, and some class and common areas. Richard Fleischman will work with the partners to define dedicated and common areas of the building to maximize common areas, maximizing value to the community and income to the property, which will be pay-for-use.

We also propose to farm 1.5 acres of the land surrounding the school and community areas, not to obstruct or interfere with the playground or Peace Park uses, which will yield a maximum of $5/ square foot in additional income... approximately $200,000 per acre. Our objective will be to generate an average of $200,000 per year in farm harvest yield, which will all be commercialized directly to the cafeteria in the school, and the City Fresh Fresh Stop and Market, and to the neighborhood.

The local foods component of this project is very significant, and organized by Maurice Small, of City Fresh, who is the regional leader in this exploding “industry”. As Cleveland Heights has little public “green space” suited to “urban farming”, this site offers one of the few and best places to demonstrate this important practice, and educate the community on what local foods mean for residents – while providing 1.5 acres of local foods in a neighborhood and context where it will be readily absorbed and valued.

We propose Richard Fleischman lead a series of discussions with the partners and community members and school board and school representatives to determine the best shared community uses of all spaces of the building, and surrounding land. That will allow Richard to determine the modifications required to meet the planned uses, and costs for those.

We propose any profits may be shared among the partners, including a profit sharing component to the lease to be negotiated with the school board, based on further consideration of this proposal.

Considering the 40 years success of Richard Fleischman with 400+ projects, and the success of The Intergenerational School, and the support of a strong team of community leaders, it is safe to say this is a proposal for a project that will succeed, which offers Cleveland Heights a competitive advantage for the future. We will certainly want to make this a permanent arrangement, as the school board determines that is appropriate.

This will reactivate an important dynamic of the neighborhood, with the culture of one of the best schools in America, and their intergenerational learning environment, which will engage 100s of senior citizens from the community with the 225 students and staff and professionals at TIS.

Intergenerational learning is at least as beneficial to senior citizens as it is to school children.

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It takes some time to digest this whole proposal, but in a word--visionary :)

The greatest challenge is growing farmers

I'll be posting more about the economics of all this, and broader plans, but bottom line the greatest challenge - and payoff - is growing 10,000s of farmers.

To shift a significant portion of the over $7 billion spent on food each year by the over 1,000,000 people of Cuyahoga County from "foreign" sources to local farmers and food processors will require over 10,000 acres of local farm land (which will be spread all over the county), and 100s of food processing, distribution and storage facilities, and 1,000s of new food production, handling, processing and support businesses, and so 10,000s of new local food industry workers, from very low skill labor through small business entrepreneurs up to highly trained and educated professionals in all sorts of trades and fields, from construction to plant research. We must "grow" all these people to grow this industry, to grow local food... which we must.

Of course, all that is good. We need to put to productive use 10,000s of misused acres of land, which would be much better as local farm land, and we have 100s of great existing buildings and sites with great urban transportation access that are great for food processing, distribution and storage facilities, and the 1,000s of new food production, handling, processing and support businesses will be engines for rebuilding our local economy, and the 10,000s of new local food industy workers will be great local citizens.

Anyone who wants to help make this happen, jump in here or contact me at norm [at] realneo [dot] us

Disrupt IT

"...ideas to make local food more available to region"

Good article in the PD on this subject at the state and regional level..."Northeast Ohio Food Congress explores ideas to make local food more available to region"


Disrupt IT

"launching the Victory Garden movement"

Lots of important perspectives in this write up on the recent Michael Pollan visit to NEO - a highlight:

"We'll need a lot more farmers, too," he
said, to replace the farmers that industrialized agriculture
squeezed off the land. "That'll be our biggest
challenge," Pollan said. "We need to train new
generations of solar farmers. These are the green jobs that
will be rewarded with better pay and respect."

The nation also will have to begin to protect good
farmland within 100 miles of cities in much the same way it
protects wetlands, he said. "Developers will have to
prove that their condo development is more essential than
farmland," he said.

Pollan also called for building local food economies so
that apples grown in Geauga County, for example, are sold in
Northeast Ohio. And if a farmer wants to smoke ham and sell
it to his neighbors, he should be able to do so without
being regulated like a multinational food corporation.
"We must relieve the regulatory pressure," he
said. "Regulation of food has to be sensitive to


Disrupt IT

Cleveland's ranking on sustainlane

"And speaking of health, Clevelanders should have ample opportunity to eat right, with 225 community gardens and 25 for-profit farms within the city limits... and more on the way, thanks to a new zoning classification for the Urban Garden District." 

So while we used to look to poverty indexes and toggle with Detroit for nation's poorest, we can now work to bring up our ranking on a new index. Overall, Cleveland ranked 16 out of 50 cities noted. Cleveland ranked #2 in local food and agriculture. Let's work to reduce overall hospital visits, eh?

Asked what we can do by a local food advocate, Pollan replied, insist on real food in schools and community centers and get ready to change the farm bill.

A Day (or two) of REST

  Why don't we save energy, money and the environment, by going to a four-day work week?  Believe it, or not, the City of Cleveland is considering the measure.


Not only would this put Cleveland on the environmentally-conscious map, it would encourage individuals and families to enjoy the outdoor environment we have to share.  The great outdoors  is FREE!!!  Get out there and get some exercise, relax and RECREATE.

Did I hear / see mention "ART" ?

Per the following ... "We are especially interested to connect with people and organizations that may be interested to offer any programs or services from a portion of Coventry Elementary School (e.g. the Media Center, Art Studio, ... Conference Room, ... a classroom) part time - a few before or after school hours a day or week... on weekends... even late at night - rent as you go co-op basis."

What exactly are the boundaries of how that space can be used for The ARTS? And I thinking Visual Arts / Visual Arts Education / Visual Arts Education Professional Development for both Visual Arts PreK-12 Teachers and Teaching Visual Artists.