Western Reserve Land Conservancy—Ohio’s largest land trust—has purchased the 28-acre Euclid Beach Mobile Home Park on the eastern edge of Cleveland in the North Shore Collinwood neighborhood. The property is located between Bratenahl and Euclid, sandwiched between Euclid Beach Park on its west side, Villa Angela and Wildwood parks to the east and the Cleveland Public Library near its southern entrance.
The Land Conservancy learned that the property owner—who held the property since 1988—was in the process of marketing the property for sale. Ward 8 Councilman Mike Polensek said the owner contacted him in March of 2019 about selling the park, potentially to a new owner who might need rezoning for high-rise apartments or commercial retail center.
“For me, this immediately became a rescue mission. There’s no chance the community would have supported high-rise apartments or commercial development, and neither would I,” said Councilman Polensek, who also was concerned that such a transaction with a private developer could have resulted in higher rents or a demand for the tenants to relocate with little or no notice for a more profitable purpose.
“I reached out to the Land Conservancy and other nonprofits because it was critical that the property be in the safe hands of an organization that values the region’s best interests and also respects the current park tenants. I am confident that the Land Conservancy will proceed thoughtfully and with a full appreciation for how this historic property best fits into our neighborhood’s future.”
Determining the best path for the future will be a long-term process. If there are any notable changes for the tenants, they won’t happen for at least one year.
-Matt Zone, senior vice president, Western Reserve Land Conservancy
Matt Zone, senior vice president at Western Reserve Land Conservancy, said he and his colleagues have informed tenants about the ownership change and reached out to several civic partners including the City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, the Greater Collinwood Development Corp., and the property’s neighbors the Cleveland Metroparks and the Cleveland Public Library, to conduct due diligence and determine the best use of this property now and for future generations. The mobile home community abuts land owned by the Cleveland Public Library and is contiguous to parkland controlled by the Cleveland Metroparks.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to intelligently create a long-term strategy that could be transformational for the North Shore Collinwood neighborhood and the Cleveland-Euclid border,” Zone said. “But until we do our due diligence, there’s a lot that we don’t know. Nevertheless, here is what we do know: this property will not become high-rise apartments, high-end housing or a strip mall.”
“And we know nothing will happen overnight,” Zone added. “Determining the best path for the future will be a long-term process. If there are any notable changes for the tenants, they won’t happen for at least one year. We want to make sure the tenants are treated fairly and thoughtfully and given ample notice to make any necessary changes. In the interim, the Land Conservancy has hired an operations company to make sure the tenants and the community are under sound management.”
The Euclid Beach Mobile Home Park, which once had nearly 300 rental units, currently has approximately 150 rental units. The previous owner—a mobile home park management company based in Texas—made little effort to guarantee residents had a safe, inviting neighborhood. For example, there has been deferred maintenance on leaking water lines that led towards inaccurate tenant water bills.
“We intend to make these repairs as quickly as possible, improve the quality of life for these residents and treat them with compassion and respect,” Zone said. “We are committed to providing certainty and relevant information to the tenants.”
The investment the Western Reserve Land Conservancy is making in Collinwood represents an opportunity to ensure local control of this lakefront property. They have proven to be exceptional land stewards, and we can now explore the potential to unify Euclid Beach, Villa Angela Beach and Wildwood Marina.
-Jamar Doyle, executive director, Greater Collinwood Development Corp.
Zone said the Land Conservancy will collaborate with others and cultivate a unified vision for the property.
Brian Zimmerman, CEO of Cleveland Metroparks, said: “We are excited about the prospect of how this property might connect to existing Lake Erie shoreline and local public parks, enhancing equitable park access to the region’s network of greenspace.”
Jamar Doyle, executive director of the Greater Collinwood Development Corp., said he was certain the purchase would be an additional boost to the many other investments already underway in the neighborhood.
“The investment the Western Reserve Land Conservancy is making in Collinwood represents an opportunity to ensure local control of this lakefront property,” said Doyle. “They have proven to be exceptional land stewards, and we can now explore the potential to unify Euclid Beach, Villa Angela Beach and Wildwood Marina. This complements investments already happening in the Collinwood area, including the restoration of the LaSalle Theater, the upcoming $12 million streetscape project on East 185th Street, and the ongoing vibrancy of the adjacent Waterloo Arts District.”
A brief history of the property
The property once housed temporary employees of Euclid Beach Amusement Park, which closed in 1969. In the 1980’s it was subsequently converted into a year-round mobile home community. Elected leaders and various public bodies—including former Mayor George V. Voinovich, the Trust for Public Land, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Councilman Mike Polensek, and others—tried to purchase the land in the 1980s with plans to create nearly a half mile of contiguous public beachfront and parks. Unfortunately, various negotiations fell apart with the owners and the land was sold to a high bidder from out of state.
In its July 2021 newsletter, “The ReCollection,” the Collinwood Nottingham Historical Society published a brief history of Euclid Beach and the Euclid Beach Mobile Home Park:
“Euclid Beach Park”
Just hearing the name – after more than 50 years since “The Beach” closed (in 1969) – brings back so many fond memories, to so many Clevelanders, of a certain age.
Because, for several generations of Clevelanders, no matter where in Cleveland you lived, “The Beach” was the summer “place to go” in Cleveland. Easy to get to, from anywhere in Cleveland, Euclid Beach Park offered both exciting fun, & quiet relaxation. And that included taking advantage of Euclid Beach’s long tradition of offering Campgrounds, & later the Trailer Park.
The tradition of camping at Euclid Beach Park, goes back to not long after Euclid Beach opened in 1895; the original campgrounds were opened by 1899. By 1915, the Humphreys, who had taken over operations of Euclid Beach in 1901, had added concrete cottages.
In the 1930’s, the Trailer Park was established, and by 1948 its population had grown to seventy families. This was in addition to the 160 tent dwellings and some log cabins, as well as the Tourist Kitchen building, that were already there.
Originally open only during the summer, during WW2, the Humphreys opened the Trailer Park year round, to help house war workers. By 1948, there were over 100 permanent residents of the Trailer Park, including employees of the Park, who were known to call Maintenance, when they heard something not quite “right”, as one of the coasters went by.
Another popular feature of the Campground / Trailer Park, was the Auto Train. This was a “people mover”, built by the Fadgl Bus Company in 1916, which the Humphreys acquired from the Panama Pacific Expo. It operated on concrete paths in the amusement park as well as the trailer park, & ran for many years, giving Euclid Beach Park visitors a relaxing ride thru the Park, as well as offering Trailer Park users easy access to the Park.
The Euclid Beach Park location has been used for public recreation, for most of its modern history; “Recreation” being both the amusement park itself, & the campground / trailer park provided by Euclid Beach Park for their patrons. And even today, the old amusement park site is offering fun for Clevelanders, as part of the Cleveland Metropark system, still offering access to Lake Erie, & many other outdoor things to do. And the trailer park still operates.