Mayor anticipates master plan soon

Posted 3/26/19

Cleveland Mayor Kevin Brooks bounded toward the lectern as he readied himself to deliver an address at the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce’s “Food for Thought” luncheon recently to provide updates on the downtown revitalization initiative.

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Mayor anticipates master plan soon


Cleveland Mayor Kevin Brooks bounded toward the lectern as he readied himself to deliver an address at the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce’s “Food for Thought” luncheon recently to provide updates on the downtown revitalization initiative.

It had been a great week for the mayor. Whirlpool had begun tearing down its former Plant 2 structure to clear the way for the city’s downtown revitalization, and the city is considering approval of a payment-in-lieu-of taxes (PILOT) program to help make way for the Nicholas Lillios’ downtown project which will convert the former Permna Color building into a mix of retail and living space.

“I can’t express enough how appreciative we are,” Brooks said, referring to Whirlpool's long-awaited demolition of Plant 2.

In addition, the Brooks is expecting delivery of consultant firm WSP, USA’s imminent delivery of its downtown master plan. The mayor has already had a sneak peek into WSP’s presentation and was excited to communicate in advance the aspects of the plan which will transform Cleveland’s historic downtown into what he calls a "livable, walkable and memorable downtown."

“I’m anxious to speak about this city that I love,” Brooks said.

Of the upcoming master plan, Brooks said Cleveland residents “will be able to see what can be achieved.”

Prior to discussing WSP’s soon-to-be unveiled master plan, the mayor discussed progress “that is always taking place” in Cleveland, listing the expansions at Mars Wrigley Confectionery, as well as the growth in residential construction in the city.

“We continue to thrive,” Brooks said.

Brooks also discussed upcoming road projects and said street repaving projects will increase, changing the repaving schedule from once every 27 years to once every 20 years. The mayor said he would work to further decrease scheduled street repaving wait times. 

He also mentioned $35 million in funding recently secured for Cleveland State Community College’s capital projects programs. It will be the first capital funding allocated to the college in more than 30 years.

Brooks said someone had asked him why the Legislature had asked for so much money. He said he replied that “it’s $1 million for every year you skipped us.”

He also discussed the upcoming construction of the Bradley County Tennessee State Veterans Home, stating that its construction will bring jobs to Cleveland, as well as contribute to the economy as those working on the site will occupy local hotels for up to two years as they build the structure.

"It will generate hundreds of jobs, as well as thousands of dollars into the community," Brooks said.

He also addressed the improving quality of life in the city by listing the renovations at Deer Park, the opening of the Casteel Connector at Tinsley Park, as well as the opening of the new tennis complex also at Tinsley Park.

Of Deer Park, Brooks said the improvements that include a creek that children can play in, will be a "game changer" for that neighborhood.

"The creek will be designed for parents to go into the creek and interact with it," Brooks said.

Returning to discussing the upcoming downtown master plan, Brooks showed slides of artist renderings of revitalization plans that will transform the look of downtown, including new streetscapes that will feature more trees, as well as streets where traffic flow is enhanced to improve the visitor experience.

Portions of the Inman Street corridor will be reduced to one lane in each direction to facilitate the downtown experience. In addition, more sidewalks and trees will be added.

"We think it's very important to come downtown and walk down the sidewalks, and this will greatly enhance the ability to do that," Brooks said, adding that the "traffic calming" reduction in lanes will increase the "safety and comfort level for those visiting downtown."

Brooks said he was excited about the project to convert the former Permna Color building. He said he hoped the PILOT program will spur development downtown, while stating the program will not result in city taxpayers losing money.

"We are  not losing money, we are simply deferring it to give the developer a few years to get on their feet."

The PILOT is a financial incentive program that stimulates investment in multi-family rental development by freezing taxes at the predevelopment level for a predetermined time

The mayor thanked city staff for their work and dedication in making Cleveland, "the greatest place to live in the entire nation."

"I appreciate their incredible work and cooperation from city staff," Brooks said. "Being mayor is great, and it's great being the coach, but the players — Joe Fivas and assistant city managers Melissa Carroll and Shawn McCay and all the staff — are MVPs. They keep this city running on a daily basis."


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