Cuyahoga Falls -- City Council Nov. 17 will discuss a local developer's site plan application for two mixed-use buildings and a restaurant he plans to build on South Front Street.

The developer, The Testa Companies, is planning a $10 million, five-building development called Riverwalk. Phase 1 consists of two mixed-use buildings at 1749 and 1797 S. Front St. and one restaurant building -- Hibachi Japan -- at 1803 S. Front St.

The city's planning commission approved the site plan review for Phase 1 on Nov. 4.

Each of the two mixed-use buildings will have 5,100 square feet of retail space on the ground floor and three apartments on the second floor.

The entire proposed Riverwalk development will include 19,701 square feet of retail space and 36 residential units. The retail space will include two restaurants and a combination of apartments and condominiums.

The lower level of Building B of Phase 1, located at 1797 S. Front St., will house an Italian restaurant, said Paul Testa, president of Testa Companies. It will have a brick oven and an experienced chef, Testa added, noting he will be part owner of the Italian restaurant as well as a coffee shop.

During the Nov. 4 planning commission meeting, Fred Guerra, the city's planning director, said power lines will be moved underground and five to seven utility poles in the area will be eliminated.

A building at 1745 S. Front St. will be torn down by Testa through an agreement with the city using Community Development Block Grant money budgeted for this. "Our policy in these brown fields is we clean them, demolish them and get them ready for development," said Guerra. "We've done that with every redevelopment on South Front Street."

Along with moving utilities underground, the city will address storm water. Phase 1 buildings will tie into existing storm water lines to the street, Guerra said, and new lines to the gorge will be built for Phase 2.

Phase 2 will consist of two condominium buildings behind Phase 1.

Parking will also be an issue, Guerra said. There's not enough room for diagonal parking along both sides of the street, so the plans show parallel parking, he said.

"It's a big development," Guerra said. "It's bigger than the Watermark (another Testa development on South Front Street) in volume and size. It's a big project for an urban area so we're trying to work through those issues."

There will be 85 parking spaces on the site, Guerra said. There are 104 additional spaces needed to meet city code requirements. Give or take, 87 spaces are available on street and in other parking lots, with 17 still needed. Guerra said he is confident Testa will secure more than 17 parking spaces through shared parking agreements.

"This is an urban area," he said. "We expect it to be a little different from going to even Portage Crossing and a big grocery store and parking right outside the door. This is a neighborhood where people park and walk a little further. That's why street life and sidewalks are important."

On the other hand, Guerra added, as development continues on South Front Street the city is going to have to look at adding 200 to 250 spaces in the next five to six years, possibly with the construction of a parking deck in that corridor.

"I'm just excited to see this go forward Fantastic project," said Terry Mader, planning commission member and City Council member (R-8), noting he also had concerns about parking.

"I just want to say thank you for your belief in the area," said commission member Michael Brillhart. "It's just fabulous."

Commission member Dan Rice described the project as "beautiful" and "much needed."

Council will meet in committees on Nov. 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the Natatorium, 2345 Fourth St.


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