Monday, February 8, 2021

Warehouse District building conversion to start

The Liberty Textiles Building, 1277 W. 6th St., has sat vacant
for more than 30 years. But life will finally be returned to this
ornate, 147-year-old building with 20 apartments plus com-
mercial spaces on the ground floor and basement. Less
certain is the future of a proposed development to be
located on the parking lot at right (Google).

It's been three decades in the making but redevelopment work is finally about to begin at the Liberty Textiles Building, 1277 W. 6th St. in downtown Cleveland's Warehouse District. The possibility of a planned, larger building rising on the parking lot next door is less certain, however.

Interior demolition work may start by the end of March on the historic structure to prepare it for rehabilitation. Renovation work would follow soon thereafter, said a source close to the project but who wasn't authorized to speak publicly about it.

An interior demolition permit application was submitted last week to the city by Joe Kasouff, doing business as KRA Management and whose offices are located nearby along West 6th in the Kassouff-owned historic Johnson Block. Kasouff didn't respond to an e-mail seeking more information prior to publication of this article.

The permit references that the upper three floors of the building will be renovated with 20 market-rate apartments but a separate permit will be required for the rehabilitation work. Apartments are planned owing to the difficulty in getting financing for a previously sought boutique hotel or downtown condominiums.

"The Liberty Textiles Building is a four-story masonry and wood building constructed in 1874 in the Cleveland warehouse historic district," reads a development summary included with the permit application. "(The) project will be completed in two phases. Phase one will consist of selective demolition, site investigation and discovery."

"Phase two will consist of remediation, restoration, change of use and interior build-out," the application continues. "The proposed renovation will convert the existing structure to a mixed-use building consisting of commercial space on the first and basement levels and residential units on all levels. The façade will be restored including restoration of the existing first-floor storefront, replacement on the existing windows on floors 2-4 and reconstruction of a cornice."

View and location of the Liberty Textiles
Building as shown in KRA Management's
permit application to the city (Berardi).

The ground floor and basement measure 5,334 and 5,201 square feet, respectively. Floors 2-4 each measure 5,314 square feet. All told, the Liberty Textiles Building totals 26,477 square feet of usable space. 

However, renovation of the existing building is only part of what Kassouf has proposed here. He also plans a new, four-story, 60-unit apartment building above a two-level parking garage on the parking lot his family owns next door, 1299 W. 6th St.

With the historic renovation and new construction taken together, the project would represent an investment of about $25.3 million, according to a filing with the Ohio Development Services Agency.

The source said Kassouf is still working to secure financing for the new apartment building over the parking garage but has enough resources to start renovating the historic Liberty Textiles Building.

Kassouf has secured more than $10 million for the renovation including an $8.055 million Huntington Bank loan that his 1277 West Sixth Street LLC received on Feb. 28, 2020, county records show. Funding also includes $1.996 million in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits awarded to the project in June 2017.

Evolution Construction Services LLC of Mentor will conduct the interior demolition. The permit application shows the firm will remove all existing construction, finishes, plus mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems as required for implementation of the newly planned uses and finishes.

The Liberty Textiles Building is one of the last vacant,
historic structures still awaiting rehabilitation in
downtown's Historic Warehouse District (Google).

All fixtures and equipment removed will be consigned to the project's general contractor, Mentor-based Cleveland Construction Inc., for reuse as salvaged materials or disposal, per KRA Management's interior demolition application.

All interior doors, light fixtures, built cabinetry and other items considered salvageable during construction will be stored and reused by the general contractor. Cleveland Construction is noted for its historic renovations, including the 2016 rehabilitation of the Schofield Building at Euclid Avenue and East 9th Street. 

The project's architect is Berardi + Partners Inc. of Columbus with I.A. Lewin & Associates of Cleveland as the structural engineer, and WHS Engineers of Cleveland as the systems engineer, the filing with the city shows.

In the 19th century, the building was called the Carpenter Brothers Block, according to a Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of 1886. It was used for boot and shoe manufacturing which had expanded into buildings next door on Bank Street (as West 6th was called before 1905) and behind on Academy Street (now West 4th Street). There also was a tobacco factory on site.

Liberty Textiles was founded in 1919 and located at 1277 W. 6th until the Goldberg family sold the building on New Year's Eve 1987 and moved their business to 5600 S. Marginal Rd. in Cleveland. Liberty Textiles remains in business to this day; Marvin Goldberg has owned it since 1960, according to Ohio Secretary of State records.

Kasouff's father, James, acquired the building for $345,000 under the name Prime Properties Limited Partnership. He quit-claim deeded it to 1277 West Sixth Street LLC in November 2015, county records show. The building's façade was cosmetically cleaned up more than a decade ago but the building has remained vacant since Liberty Textiles moved out.

James Kassouf was pardoned by former President Donald Trump in the waning days of his administration for a 1989 tax case. The longtime real estate developer and parking lot owner had pled guilty to one count of filing a false tax return.

Tyler Kapusta contributed to this article.


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