Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Line between Tremont and Ohio City blurs with more investment

Two major construction projects are seen here -- one in Ohio City's
Market Square and the other in Tremont's Duck Island. Separating
them, or perhaps uniting them, is the Red Line rapid transit train
station visible as the red clock tower. The near construction pro-
ject is Waterford Bluffs in Duck Island and the one below the
red construction crane is INTRO in Market Square (KJP).

More new development projects are coming to the northwest corner of Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood, called Duck Island. And they are coming to the east-central flank of Ohio City, called Market Square. The presence of so much activity here is starting to blur the line between the two neighborhoods.

For decades, it was pretty easy to visualize where one neighborhood ended and the other began by finding the void of buildings and city life. The only activity at that void were the riders using the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority's (GCRTA) Ohio City Red Line rail station. That rail line and its trench, recently augmented by the Red Line Greenway, is the actual line of demarcation between the two jurisdictions.

But numerous developments are popping up that are causing that line to blur and perhaps even disappear. Those projects include Harbor Bay Real Estate Advisors' INTRO at West 25th Street and Lorain, Stoneleigh Companies' Waterford Bluffs at West 20th Street and Lorain, Mavrek Development's Treo on West 25th south of Train Avenue and MRN Ltd.'s planned conversion of the Voss Factory, 2168 W. 25th, into apartments.

A formal groundbreaking ceremony was held June 3 for Mavrek
Development's Treo, a seven-story building with 170 market-rate
apartments, now rising at 2461 W. 25th St in Tremont (KJP).

Interestingly, the first three projects are led by Chicago-based developers, although some of their principals have Cleveland roots. But the Cleveland-based firm, MRN Ltd. is working out a deal with GCRTA to develop either next to and/or possibly above the Red Line tracks which would further unite Tremont's Duck Island and Ohio City's Market Square.

The plan, according to GCRTA sources, is for the developer and GCRTA to form a joint development company just as the transit agency and Westlake-based Carnegie Management & Development Corp. attempted before Carnegie walked away. Both GCRTA and MRN might share in the revenues from whatever development results.

GCRTA would reportedly like to use its share of the revenues to leverage federal dollars to update the 30-year-old rail station and possibly add a second or even third station entrance. Depending on what resources it can leverage, it might also consider a pedestrian underpass below Lorain to reach the West Side Market, sources told NEOtrans off the record.

Just east of the station, development along and north of Abbey Road may also further blur the lines between Ohio City and Tremont. Details of those plans came to light this week as a new townhouse development was reviewed by the city. But more development could follow.

Fifteen luxury townhomes are planned along West 20th Street just
south of Lorain Avenue in Tremont's Duck Island (Horton Harper).

The Near West Design Review Committee, part of Cleveland's City Planning Commission, gave conditional approval today of a 15-unit townhome project in Tremont's Duck Island enclave. Called W20th & Smith, the high-end development would replace five modest, late-19th century homes that were purchased in recent years by developer Matt Berges.

Located just south of Lorain Avenue along and east and West 20th Street, the new townhomes will list for sale starting in the low $500,000 range, said Berges in an e-mail interview. He added that each townhome will have two-car garages, various size interior spaces and "we are expecting a skyline view from the rooftop balconies."

In approving the townhomes, Near West committee members asked for small porches to be added to the fronts of the townhomes facing West 20th. That will require the development plans to go back to Near West for final approval in a few weeks and referral to planning commission. The commission's next meeting will likely be Aug. 6.

Berges has built numerous single-family homes over the years, especially in Tremont, including in multiple-unit developments or as individual, custom-designed homes. Most of his products have a decidedly modern appearance.

Site plan for the W20 & Smith townhomes, shown in dark
gray at the top-center of the image (Horton Harper).

Initially, Berges considered multi-family for W20th & Smith but after getting input from the neighborhood and Tremont West Development Corp., he decided to go with a single-family townhome development, according to neighborhood sources not connected with Berges but who did not wish to be identified.

"Thanks to the 100-plus new residents that have decided to invest and live here over the past 10-plus years" Berges said. "And thanks to the 200-plus existing residents who have put up with the process."

Interestingly, a birds-eye rendering for W20 & Smith shows a multi-family, possibly mixed-use building on a site dubbed the Abbey Block to the south of the townhomes on land Berges owns. But that is not part of any imminent plans, Berges acknowledged.

"We have explored numerous plans for this Abbey Block, but have yet to settle on one," he said. "This is a unique site and opportunity that took a long time to put together. So we are trying to make sure we come up with the best possible plan for it."

The more walkable density that rises where Ohio City and
Tremont meet, the more vibrant and dynamic this area
will hopefully become. One of those projects adding
density is Stoneleigh's Waterford Bluffs on the
north side of Lorain Avenue (Vocon).

He said a part of the Abbey Block property, just south of Smith Court, is leased by Chicago-based Stoneleigh Companies until the end of the year for construction staging for its Waterford Bluffs development. That project is a 241-unit apartment building on the north side of Lorain at West 20th that NEOtrans broke the news about in March 2020. The Abbey Block may not be part of Berges' plans after the lease expires, however.

"After that we may sell the entire project to a larger developer, while we stay focused on the many single family homes we have to build," he said.

The neighborhood sources NEOtrans spoke with said there is community interest in developing the area along Abbey Road with mixed uses including ground-floor retailers and cafes. The goal is to make it a walkable center of Duck Island for nearby residents to get a cup of coffee, a bite to eat, basic grocery items and be a social setting for the neighborhood.

Some of those types of amenities, albeit on a larger scale for an intersection with a more regional draw, are coming to the Market Square area of Ohio City. More new announcements came this week about those amenities.

A new café called Leaps & Bounds, to be owned by INTRO's
developer Harbor Bay Real Estate Advisors, will occupy the
development's highest-profile corner, that of Lorain Avenue
and West 25th Street in Cleveland (Bialosky).

A café to be owned by INTRO's developer will take the most prominent space in the still-building $145 million project in Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood. The café, to be called Leaps & Bounds, will fill out a 3,328-square-foot ground-floor space at the corner of Lorain Avenue and West 25th Street, across from the West Side Market.

Dan Whalen, vice president of design and development at Chicago-based Harbor Bay Real Estate Advisors, confirmed the café's occupancy in the nine-story-tall mixed-use development. He also confirmed that Harbor Bay will own Leaps & Bounds. But he wasn't ready to say much else about it at this time.

"We're not ready to disclose info on the hospitality side yet," Whalen said this week. "But we have 75 percent of the retail space pre-leased."

Plans for Leaps & Bounds were submitted to the city July 9 and show dining, market and kitchen facilities representing an investment of about $700,000. This follows other INTRO tenants coming to the fore.

This is the ground-floor space that Leaps & Bounds will occupy
in the new INTRO development, at the busy intersection of
Lorain Avenue and West 25th Street in the Market Square
section of Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood (KJP).

Those include Truss Cleveland a top-floor, 12,000-square-foot event center. It will have five spaces including a 6,000-square-foot main event hall, a 4,000-square-foot rooftop terrace, plus a 500-square-foot wedding suite with make-up vanities and private bath.

There will also be a two-story ground-level restaurant, as yet unidentified, but with a wood theme facing Lorain near the Ohio City Red Line rail station. A Bank of America branch and possibly a drug store are also coming to INTRO. Construction is due to be completed in Spring 2022.

INTRO is the first phase of Harbor Bay's Market Square development. It is currently the tallest mass-timber building in the USA. It will have 290 market-rate apartments over 36,000 square feet of retail and 550 underground parking spaces.

Depending on the progress of residential leasing that's about to get underway for the first phase, a future phase could add a 15- to 17-story residential tower just south of the existing development, according to real estate sources who spoke off the record.


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