Thursday, August 20, 2020

City Club Apartments tower may rise in November


A groundbreaking for the 23-story City Club Apartments tower on
Euclid Avenue could occur as early as November. Although the
global pandemic slowed the start of the project, the delay was
not as much as feared just a few months ago (Vocon/CPC).

UPDATED AUG. 21, 2020

If you missed seeing construction cranes over downtown Cleveland, you may not have to wait long for their return. With the city's approval of final designs tomorrow for the City Club Apartments, the first of several cranes likely in 2021 could sprout in the spring.

A member of the development team for City Club Apartments said the project is on track to break ground in November for the firm's first project in Cleveland. The comments were made this week at City Planning Commission and at the city's Downtown/Flats Design Review Committee. Both panels unanimously approved final designs for the project.

"The developer is doing everything they can to start construction in November," said Denver Brooker, a principal at Vocon Partners LLC, the project's architect. "A lot has changed in the world since February (when Planning Commission last reviewed City Club Apartments) but this project has stayed the course."

Last winter, before the pandemic swept the globe, project backers hoped to start construction this summer. By spring, as financial markets and supply chains took pandemic-related hits, Michigan-based City Club Apartments realized they may have to push the start date back to early-2021.

Standing between the City Club Building (no affiliation) and The
Residences at 668, the City Club Apartments tower would provide
a much-needed boost to shops and restaurants on Lower Euclid
Avenue. Downtown is only now recovering from the global pan-
demic and May's nationwide riots (Vocon/CPC).

But sources said that City Club Apartments was able to nail down financing for its proposed 23-story Cleveland tower at 720 Euclid Ave. Part of that financing involved refinancing City Club's Cincinnati property through the issuance of $68.5 million in debt by Asia Capital Real Estate.

City Club said in a press release this week it has $750 million worth of projects under development/construction in Cincinnati, Detroit, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Louisville and Cleveland with expansion planned for the East Coast.

The 250,000-square-foot Cleveland tower has a projected construction cost in the $85 million to $100 million range. That's based on the construction costs of two other Euclid Avenue apartment towers built in the last two years -- the 28-story Beacon and the 34-story Lumen. The latter is Ohio's tallest residential building at 396 feet. City Club's tower is proposed to reach to 241 feet in structural height but a rooftop decorative element could bring that to about 250 feet.

Although this tower will be shorter than the two latest apartment towers, it promises a dynamic street presence featuring a glassy, two-level retail/lobby base and extensive landscaping, including "four season" vegetation that would incorporate fake plants above the building's lobby. The owner will maintain the real and fake vegetation. Proposed retail includes a cafe, restaurant and a doggy day care business. On the rooftop amenity deck would be an indoor/outdoor terrace and swimming pool.

Extensive vegetation is planned along the City Club Apartments' Euclid
Avenue sidewalk as is a canopied entryway that's reminiscent of a
movie theater's entrance. It's a nod to the Hippodrome Building
and theater that stood here from 1907-1981 (Vocon/CPC).

In between, City Club and its design team at Cleveland-based Vocon proposed about 313 market-rate apartments, roughly half of which will be 400-square-foot studio apartments. The smaller units will be marketed to younger residents who have been priced out of the downtown market. There will also be one-, two- and three-bedroom units measuring up to 1,400 square feet, according to schematic plans approved by Planning Commission Feb. 21. That housing mix hasn't changed in this final plan.

"The design is exhuberant and iconic," said design-review committee member Jack Bialosky. "But it is a fashion statement in some ways. I look forward to a conversation about it (the design) in 20 years."

The City Club Apartments, named after the development and management company, has no connection to the Cleveland City Club meeting and event venue located next door at 850 Euclid. The site for the apartment building was chosen because it is currently one of the last surface parking lots left on Euclid downtown.

Prior to 1981, the Hippodrome Building stood here and contained an ornate theater by the same name. But owner Judge Alvin Krenzler started demolishing the building in the middle of night to get ahead of preservationists' appeals to save the building.

Among the features the city's design review committee members
said they liked most about the City Club Apartments was its
street presence. That presence features a landscaped, two-
level retail/lobby base (Vocon/CPC).

An entrance canopy above Euclid's sidewalk was designed to look like a theater's entrance, said Jodi Vanderwiel, design director at Vocon. That won praise from the design-review committee, especially from Tom Yablonksy, executive director of the Historic Gateway Neighborhood Corp.

"This is a win," he said. "It respects the heritage of the site."

After the Hippodrome was razed, a six-story, 540-space parking garage was built in the middle of the David Goldberg-owned property which extends south to Prospect Avenue. The new apartment building will utilize the existing garage which is mostly empty at night.

A future phase two could rise on the Prospect side if the proposed tower on Euclid leases quickly. That could also depend on the amount of new residential units in development or under construction in downtown Cleveland over the next year or two.

If construction starts in November on the City Club Apartments tower, a construction crane might follow in May or June. And by then, the new Sherwin-Williams headquarters complex featuring at least one tower west of Public Square could be under way. The last construction crane over downtown was for The Lumen and was taken down in February.


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