Cleveland City Council members are signaling a willingness to meet developer Tim Arthur at least halfway for the costs of removing a power pole located in front of a building he has purchased for renovation in the Five Points area.
The pole sets directly in front of the front door of the building that once housed a restaurant at the intersection of Inman and Edwards Streets.
Officials report the building has been vacant for almost three decades.
Tad Bacon of Cleveland Utilities had previously reported the pole was installed in 1993 by a contractor to operate a nearby traffic light.
“I’m not sure why the pole was originally placed there,” Arthur said. “I gather everyone pretty much agrees it was a mistake putting it there. I think it hurts the building.”
Arthur said he had made a significant investment into the building and has had interest in potential occupants.
“I think [moving the pole] would aid in moving the building and renovating it if we could get that pole out of the front door,” Arthur said.
He said there were no current specific plans, but there had been interest in making it a restaurant with condominiums upstairs.
“Personally, if I renovate it, I’m going to turn it into apartments for college students. It will be something Cleveland will be proud of,” Arthur said. “They will be nicely done. We take a lot of pride in our work.”
The cost to move the pole was reported to be $8,434.39.
Vice Mayor Avery Johnson, who had previously stated his support for helping move the pole, maintained his position.
“I think we should at least pay 50 percent,” Johnson said. “That building has been empty for a very long time and it’s literally a historic building.”
Councilman Richard Banks suggested the item be presented at the Council’s planning session where “there are 10 issues and all of them about money.”
Rowland said he agreed it would be proper to discuss the pole removal at that time.
Councilman Bill Estes advocated for paying the entire amount.
“I think the city was wrong 30 years ago or however long ago it was to put a pole there. I think the city’s at fault. I think the city needs to clean it up,” Estes said.
He told Arthur it was a “catch-22” situation for him, but asked if he could come back to Council showing progress with the building’s redevelopment.
“I think that would give some impetus for us to move forward,” Estes said.
Arthur said he had “already moved” and spent $175,000 on the project to purchase the building.
“My perspective is if we clean this up, we will get more interest in it,” Arthur said. “We’re going to do something because I need to start getting money out of it. I’ve put a lot in it.”
“I’m trying to work with you and you start moving it to x, y or z and I’ll work to help you,” Estes said. “I don’t see $8,000 as a whole lot of money when you are talking about what you’re going to do on that building.”
“Whenever you’re ready I will be ready to ready to take Avery’s motion and double it.”
Council will take up the issue at its Jan. 13 planning session scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. in the Council chambers.