Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Sherwin-William HQ+R&D project restarts; development team announced


This is only a massing of the potential Sherwin-Williams global
headquarters in downtown Cleveland. With the team of architects
announced and development work restarting after a months-long
pause, the public could learn in a few months a more refined
design of the new HQ complex (WKYC).


Reports are coming out today that Sherwin-Williams (SHW) has restarted the development of its global headquarters plus research and development facilities (HQ+R&D). But the months-long pause has pushed back the project's completion from 2023 to 2024. The reason is the global pandemic and the economic disruption that it is causing.

The information came in an e-mail sent to company employees today, with a formal public announcement posted later at SHW's HQ+R&D website. Additional information is also being publicized, including the names of the HQ+R&D development team, some of whom NEOtrans reported nearly a year ago.

SHW announced earlier this year that the new HQ will be located on the west side of Public Square in downtown Cleveland on a 7-acre swath of parking lots it later acquired for $49 million, public records show. The R&D facility will be located on the city-owned site of the former Veterans Administration Hospital at Interstate 77 and Miller Road Brecksville, now being redeveloped by DiGeronimo Companies.

In its e-mail, SHW executives reminded employees that most of the project's planning had been paused since March. Only the most critical HQ+R&D planning activities were allowed to continue.

This is the site where Sherwin-Williams plans to build its global
headquarters. The global coatings firm acquired this 7-acre swath
of parking lots earlier this year for $49 million, demonstrating its
commitment to the project and to downtown Cleveland (Google).

"We are now beginning to move forward again with the project," SHW Chairman John Morikis said in his internal e-mail. "I am pleased to share with you that we have selected our key external project partners. They will play a critical role in supporting our goal of creating a next generation workplace designed to serve our customers at the highest level, retaining and attracting top talent, and igniting creativity, collaboration and industry-leading innovation."

The design architect for the global headquarters is Pickard Chilton Architects, Inc., an international firm known for designing signature buildings. Meanwhile the base building architect for the global headquarters and the design, base and interior architect for the R&D facility is HGA Architects and Engineers, LLC of Minneapolis -- home of Valspar Co. which SHW acquired in 2017. Vocon Partners, LLC of Cleveland is the interior architect for the global headquarters.

SHW's construction manager is a new partnership, Welty Gilbane, formed last year by Welty-Testa Builders, LLC of Akron and the Gilbane Building Co., a global firm with offices in Cleveland. Mark G. Anderson Consultants, Inc. of Washington DC is the project manager, responsible for project controls and will be the owner's representative.

CBRE Inc., a global firm with Cleveland offices, is the real estate and economic development advisor while Columbus-based Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP is the project's legal and economic development counsel. Vorys has an office in Cleveland. Another law firm brought on to assist is San Francisco-based Hanson Bridgett LLP. Rounding out the team is inSITE Advisory Group which serves as the project's economic development advisor. It has an office in the Akron suburb of Fairlawn.

Sites for Sherwin-Williams' new global headquarters
plus research and development facilities (SHW).

If there were any concerns about SHW scaling back its headquarters component because of pandemic-induced interest in remotely working from home, Morikis put those concerns to rest.

"We recognize that the development, engagement and sense of community our employees share has been essential to our success for more than 150 years and would be difficult to sustain over the long-term with a remote-based workforce," he said in newly released press statement.

The HQ will measure about 1 million square feet (not including structured parking), with insiders estimating the main building will tower 45-55 stories high, rivaling the height of the three other Public Square skyscraper -- Key Tower (57 stories), Terminal Tower (52 stories) and 200 Public Square (46 stories). Those three are the city's tallest. Key Tower is the tallest building in the USA between Chicago and the East Coast.

The R&D facility will measure about 500,000 square feet and be part of a mixed-use development called Valor Acres in Brecksville. The R&D facility's construction is estimated to generate about 3,000 jobs while the HQ is projected to create 4,000 construction jobs, SHW says. Permanent jobs are estimated to be more than 3,500 jobs at the HQ with about 500 at the R&D center with room to accommodate future growth, the SHW e-mail reads.


Sunday, September 13, 2020

Glenville: massive rebuilding reaches nearly "every block"

Jan. 31, 2020 was almost like a rebirthday party for Glenville. It was
the day that the city celebrated the grand opening of the CircleNorth
Apartments and a ground-floor GlenVillage retail incubator. Both were
built by the Finch Group and a result of Mayor Frank Jackson's Neigh-
borhood Transformation Initiative. But the rebirth of Glenville began
years before. Now it is kicking into another gear with developments
on almost every block (Ian Meadows).

Case Western Reserve University student and NEOtrans contributor Tyler Kapusta has been working for the U.S. Census Bureau in recent weeks. Much of his work has him walking the streets of Cleveland's Glenville neighborhood surveying residents. And what he's seeing is remarkable.

While Downtown development gets most of the media attention, Cleveland neighborhoods are getting increasing amounts of real estate investors' dollars. Although not all of it is adding value, most of it is. And yes, most of it is happening in West Side hot spots like Ohio City, Tremont and Detroit-Shoreway. But it's also now happening on the East Side, and not just in the University Circle-Little Italy area.

Increasingly, it's spilling over into Fairfax, Hough and especially into Glenville -- a neighborhood rich with amazing architecture in its historic but long-neglected housing stock. That neglect appears to be coming to an end.

"I've been working for the Census and a lot of the time I've been in this Circle North area" of Glenville, Kapusta said. "You can't even walk a block without seeing at least one renovation, construction or sign for future construction."

One Knez Homes' many developments in Glenville is the Ashbury
Pointe townhomes. Located on Ashbury Avenue at East 120th
Street, the development will offer 19 market-rate townhouses
at full build-out (Tyler Kapusta).

Hundreds of single-family homes, townhouses and apartments are recently completed, under construction/renovation or planned in the Glenville neighborhood that began growing before Cleveland annexed it in 1904.

Jewish immigrants built up Glenville in the early 20th century, comprising 90 percent of the population until the 1950s. That's when African-Americans moved in from the Central neighborhood and the southern states and have been the dominant demographic here ever since. It's the birthplace of pop-culture icons like Superman and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and football stars from Benny Friedman to Troy Smith.

Today, it's being buoyed by its proximity to boomtown University Circle, Lake Erie and the linear Cleveland Cultural Gardens between them. Glenville is also being aided by home buying and renovation programs like Greater Circle Living (GCL) and the city of Cleveland's Neighborhood Transformation Initiative (NTI).

Since 2008, GCL provides to employees of Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, Case Western Reserve University, Judson at University Circle and nearby nonprofit employers up to $30,000 in forgivable loans for the purchase of a home at a 0 percent interest rate. Or, they can get up to $8,000 for exterior home renovations. Applicants should inquire of their employer’s Web site or benefits/human resources department for specific eligibility requirements.

One of 26 homes being built in Glenville by The Orlean
Co. This one was recently completed at 10618 Lee Ave.
and is listed for sale at nearly $270,000 (Tyler Kapusta).

Alternatively NTI began offering in 2017 up to $20,000 in down payment assistance to anyone seeking to buy a house in an NTI-designated neighborhood, including Glenville, Buckeye-Woodhill, East 79th Street corridor or Clark-Fulton.

NTI also has a Senior Home Repair Program in which seniors enrolled in the Homestead program can access up to $17,000 to make home repairs. An applicant cannot tap both the GLC and NTI programs at the same property, however.

Briana Butler, an economic development specialist at the city, has said NTI was Mayor Frank Jackson's intiative to build financial security through home ownership among low-income and minority residents. But it won't be limited to the Circle North area near University Circle.

"We're starting in phases from south of Superior and our plan is to move up, north of St. Clair," said Ward 9 Councilman Kevin Conwell.

A 36-unit Wade Park Townhomes to be built next to the Red
Line rapid transit tracks at Wade Park Avenue and Lakeview
Road evokes a classic design to look like many of Cleveland's
industrial-to-housing conversions. It is across the street from
another Knez development that will be an industrial conver-
sion -- the Hough Bakery complex (CPC).

That is manifesting itself through visible changes in Glenville's landscape. And those changes are many.

As measured by the number of housing units, the biggest developer in Glenville is Knez Homes. Enabled by the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, tax abatement and other incentives, Knez is building 30 "infill" homes on vacant lots in Glenville in partnership with the Famicos Foundation. So far, 20 have been built but many more are in the works.

"We probably have a couple hundred (Glenville homes) planned," said Bo Knez, founder and president of Knez Homes. "We were introduced to Glenville through the mayor's initiative (NTI). When we look for development opportunities, one thing we always look for is an economic engine nearby and University Circle is an economic engine. About 38 percent of Glenville's properties are vacant. We thought of it as a great opportunity to bring a quality product here at an affordable price."

In addition to the hundreds of affordable infill homes, Knez is also pursuing several large market-rate developments in the Circle North area. Circle North refers to the southern portion of Glenville. It borders University Circle and Case Western Reserve University, enabling successful development to build off of the anchor institutions.

One of the biggest developments in Glenville may be the redeve-
lopment of the Hough Bakery complex and surrounding parcels
that would bring the total development site to 5+ acres -- a huge
tract of land for an urban site. Knez's Wade Park Townhomes
are proposed to rise at right (Google).

One of Knez's first market-rate investments in the Circle North area was a five-home development, built last year in the 19000 block of Wade Park Avenue -- a section that had as many vacant homes and lots than occupied ones. They listed for $250,000+ and all of them sold before construction was done.

That encouraged Knez to build more. Next up is the 19-unit Ashbury Pointe townhouses, located at East 120th Street and Ashbury Avenue. Four units are under construction now with sale prices above $300,000.

Another Knez project is the Wade Park Townhomes at Wade Park Avenue and Lakeview Road, approved by City Planning Commission in July. The 36-unit market-rate development will be built in two rows on the parking lot for the former Hough Bakery next to the elevated Red Line rapid transit tracks.

Speaking of the old Hough Bakery plant, 1519 Lakeview, Knez is joining forces with Forest City Shuffleboard owner Jim Miketo to develop the 5-acre site, plus numerous adjoining parcels some of which extend into East Cleveland. Knez said he is near to releasing a preliminary plan for redeveloping the bakery which closed in 1992. But he's not ready to reveal potential uses for the large site, yet.

These quadplexes at 1442-1446 East 115th Street are called the
Circle North Apartments @ 115th St. They were acquired and
renovated by Plum Tree Realty of West Chester near Cincinnati
in 2019 and managed by Wright-Cummins Property Manage-
ment LLC of East Cleveland (Tyler Kapusta).

"We're going to be redeveloping the whole block," Knez said. "The city is supportive and the banks are very aggressive in Glenville."

Knez may be the largest developer in the area but it's certainly not the only active one. Another that's busy building homes is The Orlean Co. It is building 26 infill homes on vacant lots throughout Glenville. All of them should be completed next year. Famicos Foundation is also rehabilitating 11 long-vacant homes and putting them back on the market.

Between the public and the private sectors, hundreds of millions of dollars are being pumped into housing, workforce development and entrepreneurship programs in Glenville. Private sector funding is being attracted to the neighborhood by the city's NTI and by Opportunity Zone program funds.

Workforce and entrepreneurship programs are being nurtured by the Cleveland Citywide Development Corp. which offers a subsidized rent structure and technical assistance programming to entrepreneurs housed in an NTI retail incubator called GlenVillage.

Ground is due to be broken in June 2021 for the first phase of
NRP Group's Churchill Gateway Apartments, 10700 Churchill
Ave. The first phase will offer 52 housing units and a Univer-
sity Hospitals outreach center (NRP Group).

This incubator occupies 4,000 square feet within the first floor of the NTI’s first mixed-use real estate development -- Finch Group's $15 million CircleNorth Apartments, 1400 E. 105th St. Interested entrepreneurs can apply for technical assistance training and enter a "pitch competition" where finalists will be selected.

The CircleNorth Apartments opened Jan. 31 with 63 affordable apartments and 13,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space. Next door, at East 105th and Ashbury, a long-closed gas station was cleared out, the soil cleaned and an attractive public park/commons was constructed by the Cuyahoga Land Bank.

"The stretch goal for University Circle was development activity that would catalyze adjacent markets," said University Circle Inc. President Chris Ronayne. "The strength of our market coupled with innovative programs like GCL and NTI have brought investor confidence back to legacy neighborhoods. The result is a complete Greater Circle community of historic rehabs and new infill construction. It's a win-win."

Glenville is leveraging its proximity to the many health care institutions in University Circle in other ways, too. The Greater Cleveland Fisher House last year opened a 32-unit housing development for the families of veterans receiving treatment in the nearby Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Administration Hospital. This $12 million development was built at East 105th at Orrville Avenue, a block north of the VA Hospital.

An $800,000 renovation is underway of a once-condemned apart-
ment building at 11310 Itasca Ave. by New Frontiers Develop-
ment Group of Cleveland (Tyler Kapusta).

Across Orrville, NRP Group's Churchill Gateway Apartments, 10700 Churchill Ave., are on track for a June 2021 groundbreaking. The $13.5 million first phase will be a four-story apartment building with 48 workforce apartments, four townhomes and a ground-floor University Hospitals outreach center. It will be built on the site of the Harry E. Davis Elementary School that closed in 2006. Phase two will be built on the north side of the lot.

A small apartment building with even smaller apartments was built earlier this year by Rick Maron at 11427 Ashbury. Eight micro-unit apartments measuring about 457 square feet leased out with rents of $1,500 per month. They are furnished and the rent includes parking and utilities.

Farther north, across the street from the St. Clair-Superior Neighborhood, WRJ Developers LLC are planning a 70-unit apartment development called ArkiTainer on 72nd. This would be the first apartment buildings in Cleveland built from repurposed shipping containers.

The $13.8 million, 70-unit residential development would replace several abandoned apartment blocks and vacant lots with three, four-story buildings totaling 51,200 square feet. The developers have acquired four parcels and have options on three others, 887-915 E. 72nd, totaling about 1 acre. The development site is located in the Glenville-Rockefeller Park Innovation District -- a designated Opportunity Zone. 

Front and back views of the condemned Switzer Apartments,
1285 E. 101st St., that overlook the Cleveland Cultural Gardens.
Tax credits were awarded last month to renovate this 98-year-
old apartment building (B&H).

"We are seeking Opportunity Zone Equity and private equity investors to raise 25 percent equity for project financing," WRJ Developers said in a written statement. "WRJ Investment Fund, LLC is prepared to accommodate all Opportunity Zone investors."

"Along with our committed community partners, we collectively express our excitement to help provide new housing and public spaces in this great neighborhood," said City Architecture in a written statement. The Cleveland-based firm has designed many of the improvements in Glenville. "Through the tireless dedication of Famicos, The Finch Group, The Orlean Co., Knez Homes, New Frontiers Development Group and many others, these transformative investments are building community and changing lives."

But it's not just new apartments getting planned and built. Historic walk-up buildings made of brick that faced the wrecking ball are instead getting bought up and renovated throughout Glenville. More are planned.

Through an affiliate, Collinwood resident Abigail Searles recently acquired the 98-year-old Switzer Apartments, 1285 E. 101st St., that overlook the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. She submitted plans to the city this month to renovate the condemned three-story, 15,201-square-foot building with 12 apartments. The $1,043,097 project won $100,000 in tax credits from the Ohio Development Services Agency last month.

There is amazing architecture and history still waiting to be redis-
covered and renovated in Glenville. Many buildings are getting a
second lease on life, be they single-family homes and "Cleveland
Doubles," at left, or the 105-year-old Gothic Revival Notre Dame
Academy, 1325 Ansel Ave., that was spared from the wrecking
ball and renovated into apartments in 2016 (Google).

New Frontiers Development Group, founded by Kevin Alin who relocated to Cleveland from the California Bay Area, is renovating a formerly condemned, three-story, walk-up brick apartment building at 11310 Itasca Ave. with 16 suites for $800,000, according to a city permit. New Frontiers bought the 100-year-old, 17,208-square-foot building for $40,000, public records show.

Those Glenville apartment rescue projects were preceded by even larger, individual efforts by Famicos every couple of years during the 2010s. Starting in 2012, Famicos thoroughly renovated the 1904-built Doan Elementary School for $13 million into the Doan Classroom Apartments, 1350 E. 105th.

Two years later, the 1958-built, nine-story University Towers Apartments, 1575 East Blvd were renovated for $27 million. Then, in 2016, the Notre Dame Apartments, 1325 Ansel Rd., was throroughly renovated for $10.6 milion.

In addition to those affordable housing redevelopment projects, Famicos renovated 13 historic former duplexes into the single-family homes called the Heritage Lane Homes on East 105th between Wade Park and Ashbury. Once complete in 2016, the homes sold for upwards of $300,000.


Saturday, September 12, 2020

One-million-square-foot mixed-use project planned next to I-271

Cannata Companies is proposing a massive development in
Warrensville Heights on Richmond Road next to Interstate
271. The development would feature offices in blue, plus
residential/hotel in orange, surface and structured parking
in gray and ground-floor retail/restaurants in red (HSB).

Cleveland-area real estate developer Cannata Companies is making a major play at a 14.5-acre site next to Interstate 271 in Warrensville Heights. Envisioned is a 1-million-square-foot, $87-million mixed-use development called SilverPoint.

According to a SilverPoint presentation, the Dodge Reports and information from a preliminary massing graphic, the development could have structures potentially rising from four to 11 stories high for apartments, hotel, offices and ground-floor retail/restaurants.

Through an affiliate Saint-Servan Centre Ltd., Cannata acquired the site from the Little Sisters of the Poor in 2015 for $2.2 million, public records show. Company founder Sam Cannata tends to sit on properties until he or the market determines a use for them.

A 227,640-square-foot 60-year-old building on the site will be demolished by winter. This past February, Saint-Servan Centre secured a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency brownfield assessment and $1 million loan through the Cuyahoga County Department of Development to remediate lead and asbestos-containing materials.

In a written statement, Cannata said the I-271 corridor and especially the Chagrin Highlands area needs more Class A office development. It hasn't seen new office space added in two years since Pinecrest opened on the other side of I-271. The sub-market continues to have low vacancy rates despite the pandemic.

This conceptual site plan appeared in a presentation about
the proposed 1-million-square-foot development. An 11-
story hotel/residential building over a parking garage is
proposed at the top and right next to I-271 with offices
throughout much of the rest of the property (HSB).

"Cleveland’s eastern suburbs accounted for most of the market activity this quarter with the Chagrin Corridor posting a positive net absorption of 89,719 square feet and 110,431 square feet for the year," Colliers International's second-quarter 2020 office market report noted. The vacancy rate in the corridor was 9.4 percent.

"Nestled in our thriving business corridor, our plan is to expand development down Richmond Road to feature Class A office space, retail, and high-end residential housing," said Warrensville Heights Mayor Brad Sellers. "It will be exciting to see the transformation, expansion and new additions to the Friendly City in the near future."

Cannata has developed the mixed-use Greens of Aurora, office/industrial at 23590 Commerce Parkway in Beachwood, Vista Way mixed use and the Southside Corporate Centre in Garfield Heights, plus the Hillbrook Estates townhomes in Brecksville.

In 2016, Cannata's Saint-Servan Centre acquired the St. Peter Chanel High School, 480 Northfield Rd. in Bedford, for $700,000 to lease it out for multi-tenant use and sports programs. The school closed in 2013 due to declining enrollment.

But that seemed to be more of an emotional play for Cannata, a former St. Ignatius High School student who played memorable football games against Chanel. Only two years later, Cannata sold Chanel High School to the Bedford school district for $1.4 million which worked with the Cuyahoga Land Bank to demolish the school. Demolition began July 29 of this year.


Thursday, September 10, 2020

Bridgeworks project likely to retain historic Engineers buildings


The Cuyahoga County Engineers' property is outlined in white
in the above image. It is the proposed site of a mixed-use deve-
lopment called Bridgeworks, the programming for which is not
yet finalized by its development team (Google). 

Developers of a proposed mixed-use real estate project at West 25th Street and Detroit Avenue are taking actions that show they are increasingly likely to preserve the three existing historic buildings on the site. But it isn't yet certain how the buildings will be repurposed.

The buildings are the former Cuyahoga County Engineers' laboratory-office building, a maintenance garage, plus an entrance to a station on the long-closed streetcar subway in the lower level of the 1917-built Detroit-Superior Veterans Memorial Bridge.

The city nominated the buildings for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. To be registered would require a recommendation by the Cleveland Landmarks Commission. That recommendation was given at today's commission meeting.

The nomination form was filled out by Cleveland-based LDA Architects Inc. which reportedly was hired by Bridgeworks LLC, a joint venture led by developers Michael Panzica and Graham Veysey. Today's Landmarks Commission's recommendation will be forwarded to Ohio's State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to list the buildings on the national register.

"The nomination is based on the broad patterns of our history and of Cleveland's transportation history," said commission Secretary Donald Petit. "The (Detroit-Superior) bridge is already on the national historic register."

Most of the county engineers buildings are visible in this aerial
view looking north with the Detroit-Superior Veterans Memorial
Bridge visible at the bottom. The lab building is at the right, the
maintenance garage in the center, and a portion of the subway
station entrance building is at the left in the trees (Allegro).

During the Landmarks meeting, commission Chair Julie Trott questioned why the lab-office building was included in the nomination.

"I do think it's got an association with the bridge," Petit replied, adding that the lab building is also more than 50 years old, thereby making it eligible for federal and/or state historic tax credits.

Getting listed on the national register will also aid Bridgeworks' efforts to secure historic tax credits for the renovation of the historic structures. The credits would be added to the still-emerging capital stack for the development of the overall 2-acre county property, according to two sources familiar with the project but were not authorized to speak on the record.

Also still emerging is the programming for the development site. An apartment building up to 10 stories tall is reportedly being considered that could also include other uses in that building, a separate new building or in the historic structures. The ancillary uses could offer a mix of a boutique hotel, ground-floor retail/restaurants or possibly other commercial space.

According to the zoning code, the height district for the development is a "Five" meaning that buildings up to 250 feet tall can be built here. United Community Developers is taking advantage of that change to pursue construction of a 27-story apartment tower called The Viaduct across Superior Viaduct from the Bridgeworks site. The city recently changed the height district here from a "Three" which allowed buildings up to 115 feet high.

The tallest building on the county engineers' property is the former
materials testing laboratory and office building. It is connected to
the older maintenance garage at right. This view looks south from
Superior Viaduct, a street that may soon see a 27-story apartment
tower rise behind the view of the photographer (Google).

With Bridgeworks' programming still undetermined, the site plan is also in a state of flux. As recently as last month, the developers considered demolishing the three former county buildings and starting fresh with a blank slate.

"They're still working through their proposed programming and design," Petit said.

Keeping and renovating the historic buildings have their own challenges. Constructing new buildings that physically touch the historic structures could raise the ire of the SHPO and put historic tax credits in jeopardy. So the development team's challenge may be to conjure a plan that integrates new structures with the existing buildings without physical contact, the sources said.

Neither Panzica or Veysey would comment on the Landmarks Commission's action or how they plan to repurpose the three former county engineers' buildings. 

Bridgeworks won a 2019 bid from the county to acquire the county's property. NEOtrans broke the story about the property becoming available and, later, that a partnership led by Panzica won the bid. Title to the property has yet to transfer to Bridgeworks LLC or an affiliate however the former Superior Viaduct street right of way through the site was vacated last year, public records show.

This is the county engineers' maintenance garage. Above the
center of the Art Moderne-designed building is an engraving
that reads "1941 Cuyahoga County" (Google).

In total, the three buildings offer 21,616 square feet of usable space, county records show. The three-story, 1964-built county engineers' materials testing laboratory is the tallest building. Petit said the maintenance garage was designed in the Art Moderne style and built in 1941. And the subway station entrance building originally dates to 1917 but was updated in 1939. It opens up another world of potential opportunities.

"The subway connection will remain," Petit said.

The streetcar subway was closed to rail traffic in January 1954 when the Madison Avenue line out to Riverside Drive in Lakewood via Bridge Avenue was the last streetcar route in Greater Cleveland to be converted to bus operation. That left the four-track subway deck (with enough room for two more tracks) without a public purpose -- other than structurally supporting the overhead roadway deck.

After the Detroit-Superior bridge was rebuilt for the city's bicentennial in 1996, the subway deck was re-opened at least once a year for public, self-guided walking tours, historical displays and interactive art exhibitions. To the south of the bridge, properties and funding are being amassed for the $100 million Irishtown Bend Park and hill stabilization effort.

The Bridgeworks site is between two development hotbeds. One is Hingetown where a development built or planned since 2000 occupies nearly every block. The other hotbed is Flats West Bank where high rises, riverfront development and public spaces are under active planning and development.


Little Italy demolition OK'd, development plan tabled

At the center of the image is a proposed new restaurant at 12115
Mayfield Rd. in Cleveland's Little Italy. An existing structure on
the site was approved for demolition but its proposed replacement
was deemed too tall by the Landmarks Commission (RWBA/CPC).

It's not Italy's Leaning Tower of Pisa, but La Barberia University Spa, 12115 Mayfield Rd. in Cleveland's Little Italy, has an obvious eastward lean to it. In fact, the only things keeping the 126-plus-year-old building from tipping into the Tavern of Little Italy next door are some support posts and an enclosure for an automated teller machine.

Earlier today, Cleveland's Landmarks Commission unanimously approved demolition of the spa building but tabled the property owner's development plans for the skinny site. Owner Fatmir Hajrullahi proposes a restaurant with a party room on the top floor due to the success of his restaurant and party room at Maxi's Bisto next door, said Travis Logsdon of Blatchford Architects in Cleveland Heights.

"There really isn't a great opportunity to save the building," Logsdon said. "It's in really bad shape. The owner is proposing a new restaurant in this location with a party room above. He has a similar set up at Maxi's. He's always booked for events."

Chief City Planner Maurice Ruelens agreed that the building is in poor condition. In addition to it leaning, the building has water infiltration in the basement and a leaking roof. The building was substantially renovated in 1962, eliminating much of its original architectural character.

"The building is leaning and partially held up by the ATM enclosure," he said.

The age of the building is in question because no original permit was filed prior to its construction. The earliest reference to the building was in the newspapers which reported that a stabbing murder had occurred there in 1894 when it was a restaurant-bar, Ruelens added. In the 1940s, the building was a laundromat when it was bombed -- apparently during a mob dispute.

12115 Mayfield is seen in this
view from 1954 when it was
the home of a travel agency,
shortly after the building was
bombed and before it was
remodeled in 1962 (CPC).

Public records show this and multiple other properties nearby were owned by the D'Agostino family for decades until 2011. The D'Agostino family acquired properties in Little Italy starting in the mid-1930s from Frank Milano, one of founding members of the Mayfield Road Mob.

"The building unfortunately has suffered greatly over the years," said commission member Stephen Harrison. "Maybe one more bomb blast and it would be gone."

"There's a real pitch to the floors on the upper stories," commission Secretary Donald Petit concurred. "Posts were added in the alley to keep it from falling into the building to the east. It's really tough to make a case to restore this building. I don't think it's architecturally significant. It's been altered. It seems like the conditions really belie a restoration in this case."

Ray Kristosik, executive director at Little Italy Redevelopment Corp., said the neighborhood design review committee not only approved the building's demolition but also the development plan for the new restaurant. The first draft of the proposed building was one story taller than the plan later approved by the neighborhood committee and referred to the Landmarks Commission.

"The other one looked like a rocket ship," Kristosik said, referring to the original building plan.

But commission members requested further reductions in the new building's height which is four feet taller than the two immediately neighboring structures.

View of 12115 Mayfield, at center, in September 2019 (Google).

"It's a part of a streetscape that has a rhythm," Harrison said. "This (existing) building fits in like the piece of a puzzle."

Another feature of the new restaurant that raised concerns by the commission was the glassy exterior facing Mayfield. Commission member Michele Anderson said it was inconsistent with the design on the rest of the street. But Logsdon showed a rendering of what the new building could look like at night, showing that neighboring buildings also put a lot of light on the street.

"The desire is to get a lot of lighting into the building and at night it would be a beacon at the end of Murray Hill Road," Logsdon said.

Blatchford Architects also designed the renovations at Mia Bella restaurant, 12200 Mayfield, located at the southeast corner of the intersection with Murray Hill -- across the street from the proposed restaurant.

The new building is proposed to be 14 feet longer than the existing building and have a basement deeper than the current one which is only six feet deep. That will require reinforcing foundations for the neighboring buildings before excavating. Demolition of the existing building will have to be done carefully as well so as not to damage the neighboring structures only inches away.

Logsdon said the demolition will start in the back and disassemble the building going toward Mayfield. At the request of the commission, interior elements of the building will be preserved including a tin ceiling at the front of the first level. Also, the commission urged that sandstone blocks from the basement be incorporated into the design of the building somehow, such as in the courtyard or perhaps an interior feature.

Proposed statue and setting for Cleveland Indians baseball legend
Rocky Colavito. Because he was not inducted into the baseball
hall of fame in Cooperstown, NY, his statue cannot be installed
at a major league ballpark such as Progressive Field. Instead,
the statue is proposed for Anthony Brescia (Tony Brush)
Park in Little Italy (HSB-CPC).

In other Landmarks Commission news involving Little Italy, the commission approved a statue commemorating Cleveland Indians baseball legend Rocky Colavito. The statue would be installed at Anthony Brescia (Tony Brush) Park, 12002 Mayfield.

The statue's setting was designed by HSB Architects and the sculptor will be David Deming. It will be maintained by the Italian-American Brotherhood Club, based across Mayfield from the park.

Matthew Gambatese, member of the statue's fundraising committee, said Colavito is supportive of the statue. Colavito, born in 1933, was a right-outfielder for the Indians from 1955-59. He played for 14 seasons but was traded at the height of his career after the 1959 season -- the last time the Indians were in a pennant race until the mid-1990s.

The trade was called the "Curse of Rocky Colavito." He lives today in Florida. The goal is to start work on the statue in the spring. To help with fundraising for the statue, contact the committee at its Web site.


Thursday, September 3, 2020

University Circle towers' financing secured, spring start eyed

Circle Square would create a new downtown for University Circle,
Ohio's fourth-largest employment center and one of Ohio's fastest-
growing employment and residential districts. It is proposed to be
built less than a block from where a vibrant mini-downtown called
Doans Corners stood until the 1970s (CPC-MDP).


Seeing the $300 million Circle Square development back on Cleveland's City Planning Commission's docket again is great news for University Circle and the region. At the start of summer, it was uncertain whether the massive project would see the light of day again, or at least in so ambitious a scale.

March 6, 2020 was last time the downtown-scale Circle Square development was on Planning Commission's agenda. A few things have changed since then, and we're not just talking about the weather.

The pandemic swept the globe and smacked the financial markets with an uncertainty not seen in a century. Given that, financiers asked if it was wise to pursue a project as significant as Circle Square that featured an 11-story apartment building and a 24-story residential tower in just the first phase.

Such a question is why the University Circle project hasn't been subjected to further design-review by the city since early March when the temperature in Cleveland struggled to escape the 30s. The developers, Midwest Development Partners of Cleveland and White Oak Realty Partners of Chicago, were since put in a holding pattern by their financiers including Ponski Capital Partners and others.

A proposed 24-story residential tower at 10600 Chester Ave. and adjoining
parking garage are once again making their way through the design-review
process after a six-month hiatus during which the entire Circle Square
 development seemed very much in doubt (CPC-MDP).

Before the pandemic, they had hoped to start construction in June. But by the time June rolled around, the project was in serious doubt.

That also put the Cleveland Public Library (CPL) in a bind as it planned to build a new facility for its Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Branch on the ground floor of the 11-story apartment building, called Library Lofts, 10553 Euclid Ave.

"The developers will let us know by July 1, 2020 whether they will go forward with the apartments above the branch or not," said CPL Chief Legal Officer Joyce Dodrill at the May 21 CPL board meeting.

"We are hoping that they will come through with that (project). Although we do have bond money involved in that project, we are working with the developer who has incurred a delay because of financing. We are currently delayed as we wait to hear from the developers in terms of building apartments over our branch," Dodrill added.

Library Lofts apartments over a new MLK Branch library was
approved by Planning Commission last winter in the hopes that
construction could start in June 2020. But pandemic-related
uncertainty put the project at risk until financing ultimately
came through this summer. The existing Fenway Manor
apartments are seen at right in this view (CPC-MDP).

But by July, the economy was rebounding and there was a light at the end of the pandemic's tunnel. Reaching that light should lead to further economic recovery in Ohio's fourth-largest employment center -- University Circle.

The developers of Circle Square got the good news they wanted. The project's financiers were back on board.

That's why Circle Square is back before Planning Commission after a six-month hiatus. The Library Lofts and associated MLK Branch library had already received final approval last winter. But the 24-story apartment tower at 10600 Chester Ave. and a public parking garage at 10590 Chester Ave. had so far gotten only conceptual approval until now. Both still had to get schematic approval, followed by final approval.

Schematic approval was given by the commission Sept. 4 for the 10600 Chester tower, public garage and street plans. If final approval follows in a couple of months, and if CPL and the developers are on the same timetable, construction could begin in the spring, possibly as early as March, according to a source close to one of the developers who said the timing now depends on CPL's readiness.

Circle Square's conceptual masterplan features residential, retail,
hotel and offices in a setting similar to the mini-downtown that
once tood at Euclid Avenue and East 105th Street, at the bottom
of the image, for more than 100 years (CPC-MDP).

But library officials said they are waiting on the developers adding that CPL needs to move forward soon on construction of the MLK Branch as well as three other Phase 1A library facilities -- Hough Branch, Jefferson Branch and Woodland Branch that will include a new Central Distribution Facility & Book Storage. These and other buildings are part of a 10-year, $100 million CPL facilities masterplan.

"Because the library issued bonds for the funding of our masterplan project, we are required by law under IRS regulations to spend down the proceeds within a five-year period," Dodrill said. "We are actually required to spend down 85 percent of the bond funds within three years."

She said if CPL is unable to complete that, it would have to seek a three- to five-year extension. If CPL failed to meet the extension, the bonds could lose their tax-exempt status which would cost the library substantially more money to pay back the bonds as well as possibly face some IRS sanctions.

"We have to build around the existing MLK library," said Steve Rubin, partner at Midwest Development Partners at the Sept. 4 Planning Commission meeting. "It has caused some unique challenges which requires us to build from outside in."

Several high-speed turning lanes for cars are due to be removed
to make way for Circle Square and to make this area safer and
more comfortable for pedestrians (CPC-MDP).

Circle Square is ultimately buoyed by recent projects in Cleveland's "second downtown." They include First Interstate Properties' 276-unit, $116 million One University Circle, 10730 Euclid Ave., which opened in September 2019. Midwest Development Partners' 272-unit, $50 million Centric Apartments, 1999 Circle Dr., opened in December 2018. Both attracted 95 percent occupancies less than one year after opening despite top-of-the-market rents.

If the developers' and CPL's schedules can be worked out to accelerate Circle Square, there's no reason why construction couldn't begin sooner rather than later.

"We're excited about a shovel hitting the ground in 2021," said Chris Ronayne, president of University Circle Inc. "This is good for our construction trades and it's good for continued momentum in a complicated time."

He also noted that the project will force a redesign of streets into more of a grid that will slow cars and eliminate gentle turning lanes that allowed traffic to move faster. The existing "spaghetti junction" of roadways makes that area dangerous for pedestrians.

The view looking north on Stokes Boulevard-East 107th Street north from
the proposed new Reserve Court. At left and above in the foreground is
a future hotel with the 10600 Chester residential tower just beyond. At
right are proposed office and residential buildings. Down the street
is the existing Judson Manor apartment building (CPC-MDP).

And there could be lots of pedestrians in and around Circle Square which will essentially be a new downtown for University Circle. The new street layout will involve $7.9 million worth of public investment over the next four years.

"On behalf of all west-siders, I'm in favor of abolishing all crazy chaotic east-side intersections," said Ward 17 Councilman Charles Slife of West Park, a Planning Commission member.

A new Circle Square masterplan was also on Planning Commission's agenda for review. It features multiple mid- and high-rise buildings containing about 800 apartments, up to 100,000 square feet of retail, a future hotel and a proposed 13-story office/life sciences building. It would be the first for-lease Class A office building built in University Circle this century.

Numerous mixed uses, primarily cafes and retailers, are shown in Midwest's ground-floor uses plan. The desired uses include a grocery/pharmacy, restaurants, dry cleaner, beauty salon, pet store, cafes and building lobbies.

"It will bring a neighborhood to what has been an intersection with spaghetti infrastructure," Ronayne added. "It's great to see the west side of University Circle take shape and restore a neighborhood that has been taken over by cars in the past 100 years."


Wednesday, September 2, 2020

NRP Group abandons Scranton Peninsula project

Scranton Peninsula will remain a largely blank slate for a little while
longer as NRP Group has abandoned its plans to development a 330-
unit housing complex near downtown on the Cuyahoga River (KJP).

A worldwide economic downturn and a shift in market approach have forced the NRP Group to abandon its plans to develop a 330-unit apartment-townhouse complex on Scranton Peninsula, across the Cuyahoga River from downtown Cleveland.

Among major cities, Greater Cleveland has suffered more pandemic-related job losses than all but three other cities -- New York, Las Vegas and Boston. And NRP Group has been shifting its focus from developing market-rate housing to affordable and workforce housing,

In fact, The Peninsula Luxury Apartments and Townhomes reportedly would have been one of NRP Group's last market-rate residential developments. Proposed on Carter Road were 315 apartments in two C-shaped buildings and 15 townhouses scattered among three locations on the 7.44-acre site. A two-level parking deck also was planned.

But hints that the project might be in trouble started leaking out in June. when NEOtrans reported The Peninsula's groundbreaking would be pushed back from July to early 2021. Then, in a status report dated today, the construction database Dodge Reports listed the $36 million The Peninsula project as "abandoned."

Site plan approved by the City Planning Commission for The
Peninsula, NRP Group's now-scuttled housing development it
had planned on Scranton Peninsula (CPC/RDL).

The NRP Group contact listed with the Dodge Reports' project listing is the company's Senior Estimator Tim Spisak. He didn't respond to an e-mail seeking comment but did acknowledge receiving the e-mail. Also not answering an e-mail was Ken Weinberg, NRP Group's vice president of construction. NRP Group, based in downtown Cleveland, is one of the nation's largest multi-family developers.

The Peninsula was proposed to be part of the massive, 21-acre Thunderbird development announced two years ago on one-fourth of the 80-acre Scranton Peninsula. Thunderbird is a partnership of Fred Geis, East-West Alliance and J-Roc Development that would either develop land or sell land to others to develop.

First to be sold was an eight-acre lot, purchased by Great Lakes Brewing Co. in 2018 for an expansion of its brewing capabilities. But Great Lakes wanted to expand its canning capacity first, which it will in Strongsville. Any development by Great Lakes to expand its brewing production is at least a year away, said a source who spoke off the record.

So far, the only aspect of the Thunderbird development to see tangible progress is J-Roc Development's renovation of a century-old 27,000-square-foot warehouse into offices called The Avian at Thunderbird. No other construction work for the other four lots in Thunderbird has begun or was announced. J-Roc owner Jesse Grant did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment prior to publication.

The large size of Scranton Peninsula and its proximity to down-
town Cleveland is evident in this aerial view (AerialAgents).

The land that NRP Group sought for its development was under a purchase agreement but hadn't closed. It isn't known what NRP Group will do with that agreement. NEOtrans broke the story in May 2019 that NRP was abandoning its phase two of The Edison At Gordon Square project in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood so it could build on Scranton Peninsula. Phase one of The Edison leased out faster than any NRP Group development before, a company source said.

One of the last market-rate developments NRP Group will pursue is called Metro Gateway South. Dodge Reports' update this week shows the project is due for a Nov. 1 start. It will feature two buildings with 180 market-rate apartments between Woodbridge and Trowbridge avenues, across West 25th Street from the $1 billion redevelopment of MetroHealth Medical Center.

One block north at Sackett Avenue will be another apartment development by NRP Group called Metro Gateway North. It will feature 72 affordable housing units on three floors over a first-floor commercial space, fitness room, community room and kitchen, according to plans submitted to the city. CCH Development, the nonprofit development arm of MetroHealth, is a partner in both projects and is contributing significant capital to each.

Other local NRP Developments are still a go, as they offer affordable housing. Slavic Village Gateway, an 88-unit housing development with a new home for the University Settlement, is under construction at 5163 Broadway Ave. Churchill Gateway, 52-unit apartments and work training center at 10700 Churchill Ave. in Glenville, is on schedule to see construction in June 2021.