Coventry PEACE Campus Project

Updates

This post answers more recent questions from both CPC and the public about the status of the Coventry School Building. Answers were originally posted 5/18, and have been revised as of this date to provide additional context and information based on subsequent statements and inquiries. Questions from the public posed at the Monday, May 16, board meeting will be posted at a later date.

Why did the Library agree to take ownership of the Washington Blvd property in 2018?

The Library had several reasons for accepting ownership of the six-acre site, but first and foremost, the Library wanted to keep its free parking for library customers, and wanted to preserve the park and playground so they could remain open to the public. The original deed on the property from 1917, when it was donated to the city of Cleveland Heights by Grant Deming, called for the property to be for “public, educational use.” This restriction prevents the use of the property for other, non-public uses. The deed from the School District in 2018 contains additional deed restrictions that have the effect of further barring any private development on the property.

When it acquired the property from the School District, the Library recognized the value of the organizations at the Coventry School Building and demonstrated its desire for them to continue operating in the community. The Library continues to recognize the larger purpose of the Washington Blvd property and its place in the community. The Library, in acquiring the property, also became a steward for this public asset and took on the responsibility for managing it sustainably for the good of the public as a whole. supports its stewardship of this public asset

Does the Library want the School Building to be a revenue stream?

No. The Library wishes to have the current nonprofit tenants of the school building remain in the building as long as their rent can cover the costs of operations and ongoing upkeep of the building, plus contribute to a reserve fund for emergencies and improvements. In other words, the Library’s goal for the School Building is to have a feasible path toward long-term independent economic sustainability, without requiring that public Library funds be used to subsidize School Building users or to preserve the public asset that is the School Building.

Allowing the CPC to continue paying rent at the 2021 rate plus utilities does not set aside any money for repairs and major improvements. Even if CPC could effectivity manage the building, rents would have to go up to cover costs; increased rent was part of the lease signed by CPC.  Neither the existing lease with CPC nor the Library’s future lease structure is designed for the School Building to be a revenue stream for anything other than paying the costs and expenses of the School Building.

The Library does not support the property being used for commercial development, such as condos.  Again, the Property is subject to a number of deed conditions that restrict the use of the property for any such private development.

Have the tenants/CPC covered all costs since 2018 (utilities, repairs, general upkeep) in addition to paying rent?

No. Under the existing lease with CPC, CPC is responsible for all costs for repairs and capital improvements to the building, in addition to paying its rent and utilities. While CPC has fulfilled its contractual obligations (rent, utilities), since 2018, the library has spent a considerable amount of money on repairs to the building, both major and minor (HVAC, plumbing, elevators, outside step replacement, pest control, etc.); on upgrading internet and phone service; and on basic maintenance like cleaning services.

Some of these Library expenses were required by the lease, while others are expenses that the lease requires CPC to pay back.  Because CPC did not have the capacity to fund building repairs during the term, the Library agreed to advance any funds necessary to complete a major capital repair, provided that CPC contributed the first $10,000.00. The lease also provides the mechanism for CPC to reimburse the Library for any such advanced funds. The Library agreed to this arrangement in order to ensure that the building remain in good repair, consistent with the Library’s role as a steward of the asset. While CPC remains ultimately responsible to cover all costs, most recently, at the Board meeting on May 16, the Library board approved an advance in the amount of $18,766 to pay for a necessary HVAC repair at the building.

Has the Library refused to meet with the CPC?

No. Library management has met with CPC (and with tenants before CPC was established) many times since 2018, including as recently as March 23, when Nancy Levin had a lengthy phone call with CPC Board President Krista Hawthorn. The Library and CPC have exchanged hundreds of emails, and a Library Board member was an ex officio member of the CPC board from October 2020 to December 2021. Additionally, any meeting of the Library Board of Trustees must be open to the public and follow designated protocols; no discussions can be held in private except under specific circumstances such as personnel discussions, etc.

The Library continues to partner with many of the tenant organizations on community programs, and the majority of the Library board has visited the building in the last three months.  The Library, through its attorney, has also communicated regularly with CPC’s attorney over these months regarding the expiration of the lease, the Library’s plans for the future of the building, and other status updates. Unfortunately, the legal nature of CPC’s many claims and demands regarding the lease has limited the Library’s ability to efficiently or effectively communicate with CPC and the public regarding these claims and demands.

Why won’t the library sell the building to the CPC for one dollar, like the CPC has proposed? Isn’t that what the Library paid for it when it purchased it from the CHUH School District?

The Library has no plans to sell the building or property, but even if the Library did decide to sell the building, it would be sold at market value, as a good business practice for handling tax payer property. In addition, the deed restrictions requiring public and educational purposes, and limiting private development, would still apply.

Ohio Revised Code allows school districts to transfer property titles to libraries in their communities, which is how the Library obtained the property for the symbolic price of one dollar.  This special-purpose transfer from one public entity to another does not reflect the value of the property. Selling the property (to anyone) for $1.00 or some other nominal amount would not serve taxpayer interests, especially given the Library’s investment of time and resources in the building since acquiring it in 2018.

Who will manage the Coventry School building going forward? Why can’t CPC just manage the building?

At the Monday, March 16, Library Board meeting, the Board voted unanimously to approve a contract with Cresco Real Estate/Playhouse Square Management to be the exclusive managing and listing agent for the building. Initial payment to Cresco was also approved at the Monday, May 16, board meeting.  Looking ahead to the new lease structure, Cresco will be paid for through the tenants’ rent payments.

CPC’s management of the building has been pursuant to its lease obligations. CPC did submit a proposal in response to the Library’s Request for Proposals (“RFP”) for management of the building, but CPC’s proposal did not meet the RFP criteria. The Library received other responses to the RFP, and hired a property manager who the Board agreed met the RFP’s criteria. See RFP information here.

The Library Board’s responsibility to be a proper steward of its assets is to the Library and, vis-à-vis, to the community. The Library believes that it would be irresponsible to move forward without a sustainable and financially responsible plan in place. As a steward for the Property, the Library is ultimately responsible for it, and has an obligation to the taxpayers of the community to ensure that the School Building is properly and professionally maintained and managed.

What is the status of new leases?

The Library has received Allegro’s feasibility and conceptual plan for management of the building, which the Library commissioned at its own expense following the expiration of CPC’s lease term. Cresco is beginning to schedule meetings with CPC and the other tenant organizations for an introduction and initial discussions regarding new lease terms and provisions. It is contemplated that new leases will be ready for distribution to individual organizational tenants by the end of June 2022.

The Library is hopeful that CPC and the other organizations at the building will thoughtfully engage in this process and find a way to continue their presence and activities in the building under the new lease structure, which will allow all tenants to focus on their own work and fundraising efforts instead of dealing with building repairs, etc. Again, the Library is supportive of CPC’s mission, programming, and contribution to the vitality of the Cleveland Heights nonprofit and arts community. The Library strongly believes that not only will the new lease structure provide for an economically sustainable building, but for an environment in which CPC, its member organizations, other nonprofit users of the building, and the community can all thrive.

This post clarifies the current status of the Coventry PEACE Inc.’s (CPC) lease of the Coventry School Building, and answers public questions raised at the February 10, 2022, Library Board of Trustees meeting.
Read more.

At its Wednesday, December 22 special meeting, the Heights Libraries Board of Trustees voted against extending the term of its 2020 lease of the former Coventry School building, which the Library owns, to the nonprofit Coventry PEACE, Inc. (CPC). The Board also voted to authorize its executive staff to explore other options for management of the property.
Read more.

At its May 17 meeting, the Heights Libraries Board of Trustees approved a resolution to advertise for Requests for Qualifications (RFQ) for design-build services to upgrade and remodel select areas of the Coventry Village branch building. Read more.

On Friday, October 16, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library signed a new lease with Coventry PEACE, Inc.,  the nonprofit tenant of the former Coventry School building, which is owned by the Library. The original term of the lease is effective October 1, 2020 through December 31, 2021. Coventry PEACE will have the option to renew the lease for a nine-year term, and nine subsequent 10-year Option Terms, for up to a combined total of 99 years. Read more.

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library has reached an agreement with its Coventry school building tenant, Coventry Peace Inc. (CPC).

On Monday, August 31, CPC President Deanna Bremer Fisher, signed a letter of intent created by Heights Libraries that outlines the primary business terms and conditions under which the Library will lease the building to the CPC. The details of a new lease will be worked out over the next few weeks, and must be signed by the CPC by September 30.

The lease will begin October 1, 2020, and be good for one year, at which time it may be converted to a longer-term lease, provided the tenants are in good standing and have fulfilled the lease requirements.

Beginning October 1, the tenants will pay $500 per month in rent in addition to paying for its own insurance and real estate taxes. It will also pay $12,000 a month for utilities.

Heights Libraries and Coventry PEACE Campus continue to negotiate lease terms. The current pandemic has posed additional challenges, and negotiations are taking longer than both organizations anticipated, but both hope that they will be able to agree on a workable solution for all stakeholders involved in the near future. 

At the July 20 Board of Trustees meeting, Director Nancy Levin shared a financial summary from IFF, the nonprofit real estate company hired to do an assessment of the Coventry Peace Campus for the purpose of creating a model for the tenants to operate the building. Read more.

On June 30, the leases for the tenants of the Coventry School building at the Coventry PEACE Campus expired with no agreement in place to move forward. The landlord, Heights Libraries, has agreed to extend the leases on a month-to-month basis while it continues attempts to negotiate a new lease with the tenants’ governing body, Coventry PEACE, Inc. Read more.


Click to view our Infographic

This past summer, Heights Libraries surveyed the community to gather public input about the Coventry PEACE Campus. The short survey covered topics like safety, sustainability, parking, the playground, and possible improvements to the park. One thing is very clear: our community loves the PEACE Park! Here are the results; 702 of you responded–thank you for taking the time to express your opinions about this public space.

Would you like to help enhance the welcoming atmosphere at Coventry PEACE Park?

You may by purchasing a 6-foot-long park bench. We have identified ten places where benches can be added to replace deteriorating seating or add seating in the park.

The new benches are made of recycled plastic and have a 50 year warranty. If you would like more information contact Nancy Levin at nlevin@heightslibrary.org.

Heights Libraries is surveying the community to gather public input about the Coventry PEACE Campus. The short survey covers topics like safety, sustainability, parking, the playground, and possible improvements to the park. It also encourages community members to write in their own ideas with a variety of open-ended questions.

Take the survey.

The survey is also available on paper at the Library’s Coventry branch. Results will be published in the fall.

The Library is in the process of forming a committee to plan the programming, facilities and future uses of the park. The committee will include representatives from the city, the building’s tenants, PEACE Park representatives, citizens, and Library representatives, and will be involved in creating a master plan and fundraising for Park improvements.

This summer building tenants signed leases with a base rent of $3.50 a square foot and added fees for shared amenities such as wifi and security systems. They have agreed to fund a reserve for the added maintenance and repairs of the building. The Library reports on the expenses and revenues associated with the building every month at their regular board meetings.

On Wednesday, March 29, at the Heights Libraries’ Lee Road branch, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District transferred the title for the Coventry PEACE Campus to Heights Libraries. Find out more.

On February 5, 2018, at a special public board meeting, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library Board of Trustees voted to authorize the library’s purchase of the Coventry PEACE Campus from the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District. The title will be transferred to the library on March 31. The library will pay one dollar for the six-acre property, which includes the former Coventry Elementary School, a playground, parking lot, and adjoining green space. Ohio Revised Code allows school districts to transfer property titles to libraries in their communities.

The Coventry PEACE Campus abuts the library’s two-acre property at the corner of Coventry Road and Euclid Heights Boulevard, which includes its Coventry branch.

The CHUH School Board confirmed the sale at its February 20 meeting. Before purchasing the property, the library will perform its due diligence, conducting a title search, a land survey, and an environmental study.


Why did Heights Libraries take on the Coventry project?

  • This is public land that should not be put into private hands. The western parcel was donated in 1917 by Grant Deming for “public, educational use.” The other portion, where the former Coventry school now sits, was later purchased by the school district.
  • The property also provides the only free public parking for the library’s Coventry branch patrons.
  • The decision preserves the park which is used widely by a wide variety of citizens. Many of these people also use the library.
  • The Coventry Branch Library is an historic building in an historic district. The park is part of that district.
  • The Library also hopes to be a tenant and use the building possibly as a classroom, meeting room space and a number of other ideas are brewing including some culinary programs.


How will the building maintenance be paid for?

  • The tenants will all be paying rent, ultimately $3 a square foot. They will pay their utilities and create a reserve fund for any future repairs. The one tenant that has not been paying rent is relocating. Within two years the tenants will run the building on their own.
  • The Library’s finance office has created a special fund to keep Coventry School expenses separate from Library expenses.

Media Coverage

CAN Journal
UPDATED: Some Answers, No Peace

Cleveland.com/Sun Press
Heights Libraries seeking new management for former Coventry School building

Cleveland.com/Sun Press
Heights Library board votes against nine-year extension on lease for Coventry PEACE Campus, seeks new building management

Cleveland.com/Sun Press
Coventry PEACE Campus signs Heights Libraries’ Letter of Intent; new lease in the works

Cleveland.com/Sun Press
Still no PEACE in sight as Heights Library Board rejects counter-offer from Coventry school tenants

Cleveland.com/Sun Press
Heights Library Board weighs public comments on future of Coventry PEACE Campus

Heights Patch
Coventry PEACE Building Negotiations Stalled, Tenants Say

Cleveland.com/Sun Press
No PEACE yet in the former Coventry school as two-year lease with Heights Libraries expires

Heights Patch
Coventry PEACE Building Could Be Demolished

Cleveland.com/Sun Press
CH-UH school board OKs sale of Coventry school, PEACE Park to Heights Libraries

Cleveland.com/Sun Press
CH-UH Library Board votes to buy Coventry school and PEACE campus

WCPN Ideastream
Library and School Board May Save Cleveland Heights Coventry PEACE Campus

Cleveland Scene
Coventry PEACE Campus Sold to Library, Is Staying Put

Freshwater Cleveland
Heights Libraries decides to give Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Campus a chance