The redevelopment of Solon's Solar Center is alive again.
At the request of Echo Development, Solon City Council on Monday approved a traffic study for the shopping center at SOM Center and Aurora roads and also had the project sent to its various committees, which will start vetting the project on its way to a vote in city council.
Echo Development is the company now handling the project to improve the shopping center at Aurora and SOM Center roads. City officials see redevelopment of the plaza as a key feature to reviving Solon's commercial hub.
"It's something residents ave been waiting on for a long time," said Mayor Susan Drucker.
Just this summer, the project appeared good as dead. The partners involved in the redevelopment were tangled in a messy lawsuit, which Solon intervened in. In response, the city slapped the development with a moratorium to make sure that if work started it would conform with the city's vision for the site.
But now the city has voluntarily dismissed itself from the lawsuit, with a provision that it can join back in within a year if the project is derailed again, Drucker said.
The city will pay for the traffic study, which will cost about $19,000. But if the development doesn't go through, then the Echo will re-imburse the city for the cost.
Drucker said her administration has been working with the developers to "cover as much ground as we can" before the project is heard by the city council's various committees, including planning, public safety and public works committees.
The Solar Center project has been in limbo since November 2009, when Solon voters created a new zoning district to accommodate the redevelopment.
The long-awaited plan is to completely redo the Solar Center, located at the corner of SOM Center and Aurora roads. The centerpiece of the project will be a much larger and modern Giant Eagle store and an accompanying Get-Go gas station.
But the shopping center owners and Giant Eagle have not been able to come up with an agreement after years of negotiations.
Last month, the Solon City Council granted a third extension to the development agreement between the city and the development partners, comprised of Solar Center Ltd., Percap Realty Ltd., SOM-Solon Ltd. and Caplan-Perlick Ltd.
The agreement was extended until September, and would have expired in March without council action.
After that extension, city officials expressed hope that progress was being made.
But in August, after learning about the lawsuit between the parnets, city council imposed a nine-month development moratorium on the site. No variances, site plans or any other action will be taken on the site unless the development matches the vision laid out in the 2009 development agreement between the partners and the city.