Glenwillow, OH

Located in southeast Cuyahoga County about thirty minutes from Cleveland or Akron, Ohio, the town of Glenwillow developed building and design guidelines based on existing historic structures. These guidelines inform strategies for new development, as well as for the renovation and retrofitting of existing structures, to grow a prosperous town center that complements the historic style.

Cuyahoga River. Photo by Ken Lund via  Flickr .

Cuyahoga River. Photo by Ken Lund via Flickr.

Project Overview

The Glenwillow Town Center Strategic Plan facilitates the creation of a vibrant village center through the rehabilitation and reuse of existing historic structures. The plan assesses existing conditions through case studies; analyzes the budgets and impacts of specific projects; compares pros and cons of various scenarios of implementation; identifies potential funding sources; and discusses phasing options of proposed improvements. Glenwillow identifies the following areas and projects of interest: train depot relocation, general store and company houses renovation, vacant land analysis, streetscapes, gateways, general strategies, and design guidelines.

The 2009 Glenwillow Master Plan incorporates and provides a framework for the Town Center Strategic Plan by including a long-range land use plan for the county and tying the Town Center Strategic Plan into the larger context and goals of the community. A road capacity study was performed to assess if current infrastructure was sufficient to handle new growth in order to develop a future land use plan that can dictate industrial parcels for cluster development and attract knowledge-based business, while preserving more natural areas. The county also expects to coordinate planning and land use efforts regionally by attempting to buffer land on the border of the county or make development compatible with land use of adjacent areas.


Plan Highlights


The Town Center Strategic Plan was developed with the purpose of rehabilitating and expanding the remains of the former company town.

  • The Master Plan incorporates the Town Center Plan and addresses recent growth to develop economically and attract businesses, while retaining its historic buildings and cultural heritage through the use of gateways and design guidelines.


An inventory of existing infrastructure was taken to prioritize future improvements through a Capital Improvements Plan.

  • The Plan will reflect changing needs, revenue streams, development trends, and technological advances in infrastructure.


The Master Plan incorporates the existing Town Center Strategic Plan in order to align goals and strategies moving forward. The train depot rehabilitation is prioritized in order to create a focal point for the district.

  • Improvements to the train depot were possible because of the cooperation between the village and Midwest Railway; the village is responsible for foundation and structural improvements, while Midwest Railway will make minor cosmetic repairs, paint the exterior, and build the interior museum.


Lessons Learned

While the Town Center Strategic Plan does an adequate job of analyzing current conditions, setting goals, and providing solutions to possible issues that may arise, it was not developed in conjunction with a master plan for the entire area. The subsequent 2009 Glenwillow Master Plan incorporates the Town Center Plan, grounding it in the context of a more extensive analysis of the county, yet it still fails to develop overall goals that have more meaningful direction.

This plan is similar to the Mandeville plan in that they both seek to eliminate vacant lots, improve the streetscape, erect town gateways, outline a town center plan, and set specific guidelines for new houses and the rehabilitation of existing structures to enhance the local image and maintain the local history. In addition, historic elements of buildings are given priority and standards for rehabilitation are set. They also encourage the incorporation of new technology (e.g. storm windows and doors).