EDITOR’S NOTE: The Willoughby Western Lake County Chamber of Commerce hosted officials from their communities on March 8 to discuss the State of the Cities. This is one in a series of articles detailing the speeches given.
Many of the business plans laid out for Willowick years ago are now beginning to bear fruit, resulting in a predominantly residential, densely populated city with industry to boom.
“In my six years as mayor, I’ve had great support from the council and we’ve gotten a lot of things done,” Willowick Mayor Richard Regovich said at the recent State of the Cities meeting at the Normandy Party Center in Wickliffe. “The new building in Shoregate where you see Chipotle, Starbucks is coming and we have a B smoothie store coming in there in the next few months.
“This is great for Willowick,[the community]never thought they’d get a Chipotle, Starbucks or anything like that in the past,” he added. “We’re 2.5 square miles and a very densely populated city, and quite a lot of residential and no industries. It’s good.”
A Bar Forno location is planned for Willowick’s Northshore Mall, which will be an upgraded facility where patrons can sit down and enjoy a meal and a drink, Regovich said.
“It’s not fast food or a drive-thru,” Regovich said. “Also, at the former location of Sports Fanatics Pasha Turkish Kitchen is located. It’s Middle Eastern food and they’re ready to open anytime. They’re pretty much done with their build and ready.
“We also have the Alia Creations Event Center at Northshore Mall, Mama Primozz, where Cala’s Pizza has been for many years, and we have people expanding their business.”
The former Dawnchem building on Lakeland Boulevard will become ServiceMaster’s headquarters. The 48,000-square-foot building will bring about 50 to 75 jobs to the city, which is huge, Regovich said.
“The building goes right back to the railroad tracks (East 305 Street) and they just submitted interior plans to bring their trucks and equipment in,” Regovich said. “Any time we get such an increase in the workforce at Willowick, it’s fantastic. I am looking forward to this tax money and I think all my colleagues are too.”
What was Walker Hardware on Vine Street is being converted into a restaurant and bar by the Cleveland Pizza Co. The building is also used for their offices, making and selling dough to other companies, and for their four locations.
“One day there will be a patio with a fireplace. They have some supply chain issues that we’ve all heard about,” Regovich said. “Hopefully you’ll be making progress soon. They have a $1.1 million SBA loan to help make this happen. The pandemic has made those loans easier to get and they’ve been able to do something that’s big for Willowick.
“I don’t know what else we could have done with this building or how long it could have stayed.”
Shoregate’s Ace Hardware expands due to business expansion. A Christian bookstore will also be moving into Shoregate.
“Ela’s Caribbean Grill on East 305th Street opened last year. So if you need Caribbean food, it’s very good,” Regovich said. “A photo and graphic design space, a Flexology foot spa and Immaculate Cleaning have all opened on the same plaza. On the west side of the lake where the old grocery store and bank used to be years ago we have a Premier Orthodontics site – all great things in Willowick.”
The city’s budget has increased sharply over the past year due to additional government funding from the pandemic, but it’s one-time money, Regovich said.
“We can do some things now, but we also think creatively together,” he said. “The budget has never been healthier for Willowick and we hope to keep it healthier for as long as possible. During the pandemic, it’s been two years of constant virtual meetings to make decisions as a county. Much would not be possible without the employees in each city and in the cities helping each other.
“It’s been a privilege and a good time to work with all these mayors.”
Regovich hopes to break ground to allow visitors access to the lake for years to come.
“Willowick has a great life on a Great Lake, but I need to get you to the lake,” said Regovich, who currently has interested developers. “The lake is an important contributor to our quality of life in Willowick and Lake County, so one day we want to come to the lake. That was something I was passionate about when I became mayor and still am.”