Lighthouse Village is a 500,000-square-foot regional shopping center developed on 65 acres of land in Lorain, Ohio. It represents an investment of more than $100 million in the community.
The center is anchored by Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Kohl’s Department Stores and includes a long list of national, regional and local tenants.
Our Challenges and Solutions:
In addition to the challenges of balancing the priorities of three large anchor stores, the regulations of local government and the desires of labor, we had several project-specific challenges at Lighthouse Village.
Deed restriction on the land
- Challenge – The land was encumbered by a deed restriction placed on it after it was gifted to the local chapter of the YWCA more than 40 years ago by then-owner, Anna Martin. Martin wanted the land to be used to benefit women and children. The YWCA later transferred ownership of the land to the Church on the North Coast, which owned it when we identified it for potential development. The local chapter of the YWCA had closed and the church decided not to build on the property, so the land had yet to fulfill Martin’s goal of helping women and children.
- Solution – We worked with the seller, the Lorain County Probate Court and the Ohio Attorney General’s office to create a legal and appropriate way to lift the deed restriction on the land but still fulfill Martin’s wishes. We did that, in part, by establishing a $1 million fund at the Lorain Community Foundation to benefit local women and children.
Building on Wetlands
- Challenge – The 65-acre property had more than 15 acres of government-regulated wetland that needed to be mitigated prior to starting development.
- Solution – We worked with the Army Corps of Engineers, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and Davey Resource Group (a division of Davey Tree) to create an innovative plan. The plan included purchasing several acres of offsite wetlands and creating permanent conservation easements on the property; purchasing existing credits from a local wetland bank and incorporating on-site conservation areas within our development. The on-site conservation involved creative roadway construction that allowed for early construction of the anchor stores.
Resistance from Adjacent Property Owners:
- Challenge – A small but active group of adjacent property owners worked against the development. They filed a lawsuit opposing the zoning and then appealed on the same issue when they lost the initial case. They also collected enough signatures (approximately 1,400) to force a vote on a citywide zoning referendum.
- Solution – By holding several community meetings and visiting property owners individually, we communicated with, instead of isolating, our opponents. We also aligned ourselves with local labor. Ultimately, Lighthouse Village won all court judgments, appeals and approximately 75 percent of the vote on the referendum.
Lighthouse Village is a vibrant, successful and attractive shopping center that includes one of Ohio’s most successful Wal-Mart stores and one of the busiest Kohl’s stores in the country. The development has become a major economic driver for the city. It has met or exceeded our projections on employment–with more than 1,000 new jobs created–and has increased local tax revenue by more than $1 million annually. In addition, other nearby projects have started or been completed, including:
- The development of the adjacent 90-acre parcel for a planned residential and retail PUD has just been approved.
- Additional retail and commercial development to the east is underway.
- There have been significant improvements to the adjacent roadways and infrastructure.