Saturday, July 24, 2021

St. Vincent expansion may unite Downtown, Campus District

St. Vincent Charity Medical Center is often overlooked in a metro
area dominated by much larger, higher-profile health care systems.
But St. Vincent has set about to change that, starting with a master-
plan to align its broadening mission to positively affect the health of
Greater Clevelanders with the facilities necessary to achieve it (CSA).

When you take stock of St. Vincent Charity Medical Center's (SVCMC) properties and how they are used, it becomes apparent how under-utilized they are. And when considered in terms of the 156-year-old hospital's proximity to Downtown Cleveland, it's equally apparent how cut off it is.

Those and other features are among the issues to be addressed by a master-planning effort by Boston-based MASS Design Group to determine how the growing medical institution can better serve its community. Like its bigger colleagues -- Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and MetroHealth -- SVCMC is constrained by the surrounding city and its dependence on the car.

Nearly two-thirds of land owned or controlled by SVCMC is used for surface parking lots or as greenspace that separates buildings from sidewalks, making them less pedestrian friendly. Some of the greenspace exists for lack of another identified use.

In a written statement, SVCMC said its health campus "will encompass property owned by the Sisters of Charity at East 22nd Street and serve as a catalyst for revitalization in the surrounding area. SVCMC will be an anchor institution, partner and namesake in what will be known as the St. Vincent Charity Health Campus. Depending on what is recommended during the planning and engagement process, new services, programs and partners will be added to the existing services at SVCMC’s main campus."

While nearly all properties in and near the St. Vincent Charity
Health Campus are used, many are not used efficiently or in
ways that would improve safe and comfortable access for
populations that cannot afford to operate cars (Google).

“We work from the philosophy that our built environment should be designed to advance human dignity and promote health,” said Michael Murphy, founding principal and executive director of MASS Design Group. “The Health Campus is an opportunity for the Cleveland community to bring this philosophy to life, and create true health equity through justice and empathy.”

MASS is also serving as the lead consultant for Cleveland State University's campus masterplan. Their work on creating a vision for both campuses, as well as the next phase for the redesign of the Inner Belt/Interstate 90 corridor in 2024, is an opportunity to better link those areas. MASS representatives were in town last week to begin their work with SVCMC.

Among the goals is to not only serve the acute care needs among growing populations in nearby downtown, Ohio City, Tremont and Central, but also to improve health conditions among low-income populations in Cleveland's inner-city neighborhoods. Health care that is accessible physically as well as financially is a challenge. One in four Cleveland households has no car available -- a number that rises to one out of two households in neighborhoods with more poverty, Census figures show.

In those areas, chronic health problems such as high infant mortality rates, drug addictions and harmful effects from residential and industrial pollutants remain untreated. Addressing the health care side of those and other quality-of-life problems is a growing focus for the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine.

Plans for redesigning the Inner Belt/Interstate 90 may help im-
prove pedestrian linkages between downtown, Cleveland State
University and the St. Vincent Charity Health Campus (ODOT).

Health care system representatives said the design process will recognize Sisters of Charity core values, serving the community with the broadest definition of health, including addressing social determinants, poverty and racial segregation, and upward mobility. Most health systems don't work on such broad issues.

"The expansion of the St. Vincent Charity main campus with partners beyond acute care can lead to a lifetime of improved community health outcomes," said Susanna H. Krey, senior vice president, Sisters of Charity Health System and president of the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland. 

And while MASS's masterplan will focus on adding facilities, services and physical linkages to SVCMC's existing properties, NEOtrans understands that it won't end there. A source close to the planning work but wasn't authorized to speak publicly said the plan may also look at underutilized properties nearby.

One of those will reportedly be the vacated, historic Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center on East 22nd, between Cedar and Central avenues. There are also several underutilized parking lots nearby owned by the county. The detention center was closed in 2011 when a new facility opened on Quincy Avenue at East 93rd Street.

The interior courtyard of the former Cuyahoga County Juvenile
Detention Center on East 22nd Street (Architectural Afterlife).

The source said that the 90-year-old jail facility will likely be torn down because it cannot easily be repurposed to new uses. But the court building facing East 22nd will be retained and possibly reused.

The county has shown interest in retaining it for new uses, such as a long-term home for the county's  new Diversion Center. Currently located on East 55th Street, the diversion program treats those with substance abuse and mental problems who committed lesser offenses rather than send them to jail.

East of the old juvenile detention is one of the oldest public housing complexes still standing in Cleveland. Olde Cedar, part of the 17-acre Cedar Estates, is set to be razed and replaced with modern housing by the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority. The first phases of replacing the 1950s-era complex were completed in 2017. Current phases include Sankofa Village and Scholar House.

In its official statement, the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine said "Thoughtful inclusion of residents with lived experience is critical to anchoring as well as developing the vision for the initiative." Drafts of the plan could be available as early as this winter.


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

City OKs Sherwin-Williams HQ concept with conditions

Sherwin-Williams' new HQ tower will be Cleveland's fourth-tallest
skyscraper and be a unique shape in the city's skyline. But as mem-
bers of city planning review boards applauded the soaring tower's
 design, how the project might create or discourage interaction
with pedestrians along downtown's sidewalks was among
the concerns shared at a meeting today (SHW).

A joint meeting of city planning committees partially approved conceptual plans for Sherwin-Williams (SHW) headquarters (HQ) today. For the portions the review panels didn't approve, they offered guidance on how to enhance the early designs to improve the pedestrian experience along downtown Cleveland's sidewalks.

The plans were jointly reviewed and approved by the Cleveland City Planning Commission, Cleveland Landmarks Commission, Downtown-Flats Design Review Committee and the Warehouse Historic District Design Review Committee. Plans included a more detailed massing whose crown was first described visually and verbally in detail here at NEOtrans earlier this month.

City officials approved SHW's location and height of buildings in its proposed vertical urban campus with these conditions and exceptions:

  • Approval excludes the northwest block of SHW land where future development by others is desired.
  • Provide a traffic study that includes pedestrian circulation.
  • Consider a pavilion height increase with public roof access.
  • Demonstrate the street-level experience of the entire site, especially the temporary lots and along Frankfort, through drawings.
  • Provide a retail strategy for the site.

Timothy Muckley, SHW's director of corporate real estate, said a new HQ is desperately needed as it has outgrown its obsolete home of 91 years at 101 W. Prospect St. He said the Landmark Office Tower suffers from low ceilings, aging mechanicals, company parking that has a 10-year wait list, and elevators that have "a mind of their own." While employees will work remotely a couple days each week, Muckley said SHW never considered relying wholly on remote employment going forward.

Timothy Muckley of Sherwin-Williams addresses a joint commit-
tee of city planning review boards to garner approval of the
coatings company's new global HQ project (TV20).

"We believe the key to innovation is to connect and collaborate," he told joint committee meeting members. "We need to be one elevator ride away from each other. While other (companies) are fighting to push people out of their headquarters, we're fighting to get them in."

He pointed out that the HQ project is desired to have these features:
  • A 616-foot-tall, roughly 36-story HQ tower that will rise at the northwest corner of Superior Avenue and West 3rd Street.
  • A site for a future office tower is reserved at the northeast corner of Superior and West 6th Street but will be held as a visitor parking lot rather than greenspace.
  • The HQ property will be secure and convenient for employees and visitors.
  • The 920-space parking garage will accommodate nearly one-third of of SHW's 3,100 HQ employees.
  • The garage was set back from St. Clair Avenue, West 3rd and West 6th to put a retail liner and/or future development around it.
  • The 2,500-square-foot retail liner along West 3rd barely exceeds the city's building code.
  • A goal of the project is to spur downtown development. SHW noted it already has, with the renovation of 55 Public Square, Rockefeller Building redevelopment, the demolition of the Rockefeller garage for a major development and the proposed Magellan development.
  • A glassy Public Square pavilion rising only two-stories and nearly 50 feet tall will pull elements out of the office tower (like a learning center, conferences, Center of Excellence, etc) and will be the cultural hub of SHW.
  • Pedestrian skybridges will connect the SHW HQ tower to its parking garage and Public Square pavilion.
The 616-foot height of SHW's HQ tower as it relates to two of its
Public Square skyscraping neighbors is shown with a future
 expansion office building of roughly 20 stories (SHW).

SHW's proposed pair of 15-foot-wide skybridges received significant pushback from planning committee members as well as at least half of the public comments received by the committee prior to the meeting. But the city cannot legally prevent them as they are permitted in the city's building code and the city recently approved two bridges to cross above Ontario Street into the JACK Cleveland Casino although only one skybridge was built.

"I understand the skybridges aren't favored but they are critical," Muckley said. "These two buildings (HQ and pavilion) need to function as one organism."

Bill Chilton, principal at Pickard Chilton, SHW's lead architect for the HQ, added that the skybridges will not pull people off of city streets. The skybridges will be open only to SHW employees. For workers going to lunch, shopping or to catch their buses and trains, they will be setting foot on downtown sidewalks when the HQ is finished in 2024. Many employees don't go outside now as the existing HQ is connected by walkways to Tower City Center.
Views from terraces on the east and west sides of the new SHW HQ
tower are shown as red lines. The maximum heights of low-level
buildings around Public Square are shown as blue lines (SHW).

Muckley said one-third of SHW employees use Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) buses and trains. In fact, SHW officials met with GCRTA staff yesterday to improve transit access for them. SHW is using every HQ employee's home address to create a heat map of where workers live and will share it with GCRTA to seek better transit access to/from where concentrations of their employees live.

Planning committee members also questioned why the two-story, nearly 50-foot-tall Public Square pavilion was desired and/or why it was designed to be so short. They noted that Public Square is surrounded by two types of buildings -- skyscrapers and lower-level structures. The lower-level structures -- Metzenbaum U.S. Courthouse, 200 Public Square's atrium, Higbee's/JACK Casino, Renaissance Hotel and Old Stone Church -- are all in the 65- to 165-foot range of height.

Chilton said a lot of thought went into putting the pavilion and not the HQ tower on the Public Square lot, called the Jacobs Site. It's dubbed the Jacobs Site because it was previously owned by the Jacobs Group. He noted that the floor plate for the HQ, its loading docks and central utilities plant would be too big to fit on the Jacobs Site. Loading docks for the pavilion will be in the HQ tower, off Frankfort, with supplies delivered to the pavilion via the skybridge.
More views of a model showing how the new SHW HQ tower,
its parking garage and Public Square pavilion would relate
to its downtown Cleveland surroundings (SHW).

"We view the pavilion as the front door to Sherwin-Williams," Chilton said. "As for putting the (HQ) tower on the Jacobs Site, it creates tension with Terminal Tower. Pulling it back (to West 3rd) gives it that relief. When looking at it (the HQ tower) from different views around the city, it retains views and allows terminal Tower to breath visually."

The pavilion will have at its southwest corner a Barista store filled with Sherwin-Williams-branded merchandise, such as clothing, coffee mugs and other promotional items. But those reportedly will be for employees. Right now, SHW hasn't decided whether to make the pavilion open to the public, said Matt Heisey, principal at Vocon Partners, SHW's interior architect.

Warehouse District Executive Director Tom Yablonsky suggested opening up the pavilion to public access, enlarging it and putting a café on its rooftop. He added that a taller pavilion would also make the skybridge across West 3rd appear less prominent.
Major components of the first phase of SHW's HQ (SHW).

Furthermore, city planning officials expressed concern about pedestrian flows between the Warehouse District, Public Square and Euclid Avenue where transportation, restaurants and stores are located for downtown residents and businesses. SHW will direct its traffic engineering consultant Nelson Nygaard to also evaluate pedestrian traffic flows through the HQ site.

Frankfort Avenue between West 3rd and West 6th is being vacated as a city street and will become SHW property. SHW will close it off to through traffic for vehicles but leave it open to pedestrians. There will be bollards or some other vehicular barrier on Frankfort just west of West 3rd. Employee vehicles entering the parking garage will stack up on Frankfort in the mornings. Delivery trucks to SHW are also more numerous in the mornings. After work, employee vehicles will exit onto West 3rd.

However, Muckley said Frankfort will be landscaped and, at the city's urging, be the subject of a retail study that could possibly result in raising the garage's ground level from 11 feet to 20 feet to accommodate more ground-floor retail uses.
A screenshot from today's meeting showing the SHW HQ model
that includes the future phase expansion building (TV20).

The site for future expansion of the SHW HQ also received some attention -- both by SHW's Muckley and by city planning representatives. Muckley said SHW needs to have room for expansion as the company has grown rapidly in the last few decades.

"We've made this mistake with manufacturing plants of not planning for the future," he said. "We want this to be our headquarters site for a long time. It's important to be able to have that for growth."

Even though a significant structure of roughly 20 stories is shown in basic massings of the HQ campus, SHW officials declined to discuss publicly when it might need to build that second office building. Muckley did say that no new parking facilities are anticipated for that future building. The proposed parking garage will not be designed to construct additional levels on top of it. He said the future expansion site would temporarily remain as a parking lot.

"I've been on this (city planning) committee for a long time," responded Thomas Zarfoss, a retired landscape architect. "Whenever I hear the term 'temporary' it gets my attention. To make cities walkable, you can't be walking along parking lots."

Public Square pavilion and HQ tower podium connections (SHW).

Before the HQ project was officially acknowledged by SHW, NEOtrans reported information from sources close to the project that the HQ+R&D project would measure as much as 1.8 million square feet and ultimately accommodate up to 6,000 employees. About 1,000 of those workers will be based in the new 500,000-square-foot research center in Brecksville.

HQ design team sources say the first-phase, 1-million-square-foot office tower will have enough space for 3,500 employees although 3,100 office workers will be located there at the outset. If the 6,000-employee, 1.8-million-square-foot goal for the HQ+R&D is still the target, another 1,500 workers have yet to find their way into the HQ campus. Another 300,000 square feet office space may be coming.

SHW has yet to include in its HQ plans any efforts to relocate more than 250 workers from its 151,830-square-foot swing/office space at 4780 Hinckley Industrial Parkway in Cleveland. Or, for that matter, there are roughly 1,000 workers in Minneapolis in facilities previously owned by Valspar until SHW acquired the rival company in 2017.

A phase two office building measuring 300,000+ square feet for roughly 1,500 or more employees appears to be on SHW's to-do list. But it's not likely to make any of that public until after it takes care of its first priority -- its new, 21st-century global HQ and research facilities. 


Friday, July 16, 2021

Westinghouse site may see $85 million reno with hotel, apartments, shops

Looming large over the West Shoreway is the Westinghouse plant
which has stood there for nearly 140 years and sat vacant for the
last five. It is proposed to be redeveloped by a local investor
who reportedly has deep pockets (Google).

When an abandoned industrial property has a great location and great views, eventually the right investor with the right program at the right time is going to find it and redevelop it no matter how difficult that site is.

The latest property to fit that bill is the abandoned Westinghouse factory along Cleveland's West Shoreway, located at 1200 W. 58th St. at the north end of the Gordon Square neighborhood. It has several factors going for it this time, despite at least one prior attempt that came up empty.

One of those factors is the investor himself. Michael Trebilcock, founder and chairman of Cleveland-based data protection company MCPc Inc, has enjoyed great success in business. He also founded a real estate firm called Trebilco Properties to invest his wealth in improving Greater Cleveland.

According to sources close to the project but who were not authorized to speak about it publicly, Trebilcock is seeking to redevelop the Westinghouse property with a boutique hotel, apartments, shops and parking. The site features 303,000 square feet of connected structures including an eight-story building that looms over the Shoreway.

Looking north on West 58th Street from the Gordon Square
neighborhood, the Westinghouse plant "steps up" toward
the lake. Some of the lower-level buildings in the
factory complex were demolished (KJP).

The estimated cost of the redevelopment is $85 million, they said. The Krill Co. of Cleveland is being engaged as the project's general contractor and Los Angeles-based AECOM was chosen as the architect. AECOM has an office in Cleveland.

In a brief phone interview, Trebilcock confirmed his interest in the Westinghouse property which is currently owned by the Kole family of Westlake, doing business as Paramount-Breakwater Properties, LLC. It is listed for sale at $6 million.

"We're really at the tail end of getting through the acquisition," he said. "We're moving in on closing the purchase in about four to six weeks."

As for sharing more details, such as the hotelier's name, number of apartments, or types of retailers/restaurants in the proposed programming for the redeveloped Westinghouse property, Trebilcock was mum.

"I'd rather not say anything at this point," he said. "But it's exciting."

An overhead view of the Westinghouse plant in August 2020,
showing the extensive development around it. Compare it to
the photo from five years earlier, shown below (Google).

The sources also were unwilling to share many details about the programming, but they acknowledged that the boutique hotel would be the dominant use for the eight-story building with residential as a secondary use.

Westinghouse's tower is 122 feet tall and measures 112,000 square feet. The lower-level parts of the complex are proposed to have unidentified shops and parking. They measure 191,000 square feet and date to 1882. Those structures are 1-3 stores tall, some with high, truss-supported ceilings and unconventional floor plans.

In the decades that Westinghouse owned the plant, the low-level structures were full of heavy machinery such as drop forges, foundries and presses as well as polishing, annealing and anodizing processes, according to a former employee. That means finding resources to not only redevelop the site but potentially to clean it up.

Another timing factor working in the favor of a redeveloped Westinghouse property is the availability of significant new public funding resources. They include the Transformational Mixed Use Development (TMUD) tax credit program as well as $350 million in new state funding for environmental clean up of abandoned industrial properties.

A birdseye view from 2015 of the Westinghouse plant before the
north end of the Gordon Square neighborhood was substantially
redeveloped primarily with new residential uses (Google).

The TMUD program will have $100 million in tax credits for large real estate development projects statewide in each of the next four years. Of that, $80 million will go to developments in and near Ohio's six largest cities, benefitting projects with price tags of at least $50 million, standing 15 or more stories or measuring at least 350,000 square feet.

For Westinghouse to qualify, it would have to add nearly 50,000 square feet of space. If it didn't add space, the project could go the route of tapping historic tax credits to overcome the project's high costs. When asked if he would pursue a TMUD credit, Trebilcock was non-committal.

"There's lots of options for financing," he said. "We're running the gamut at this point."

The timing may also be improving for attracting a boutique hotel to Cleveland, which doesn't have any luxury brands in or near downtown. That omission was duly noted in efforts that began last year to redevelop the Flats West Bank with mixed uses including an upscale boutique hotel. The market research showed Cleveland could support one but the pandemic kept hoteliers from committing at that time.

Ward 15 Councilman Jenny Spencer and Detroit-Shoreway Community Development Organization Director Adam Stalder did not respond to e-mails seeking comment prior to publication of this article.


Thursday, July 15, 2021

45 Erieview aims to be Cleveland's first post-pandemic remote-work tower

The curving floorplates of 45 Erieview offer sweeping
views of Lake Erie for residents, but interior parts of
the building cannot be used for apartments because
the city's building code requires residential uses
to have windows. So the interior spaces will
be for work spaces and a wide range of
amenities for tenants (KJP).

When you pore over Bluelofts Inc.'s proposed floor plans for the planned remake of 45 Erieview Plaza, several thoughts come to mind. The first one is that this appears to be the first development in Cleveland to take into account new remote-working lifestyles sought in a post-pandemic world.

That becomes apparent when you realize that the proposed development would have a stunning offering of amenities that could turn this building into a city-within-a-city. Such as.... 

Indoor putting green plus two golf simulators? Check. Movie theater and a community gaming room? Check. Rock-climbing wall, half-court basketball and pickleball court? Check. Co-working lounge and coffee/cocktail lounge? Check. Steam and massage rooms? Check. Barbershop and salon? Peloton video room? Pet spa and grooming room? You get the idea.

It's almost like being on the Axiom in the movie Wall-E -- minus the tubby people in the floaty chairs and the acceleration to hyperspace.

Ground floor plan detail for 45 Erieview  --
By the way, after you click on the image, right-click
on the enlarged image and select "open image in new
tab" where you can enlarge it further (Dimit).

But is this building, located at East 9th Street and Lakeside Avenue, cartoonish science fiction, too? That's a lot of costly amenities to put in a building in downtown Cleveland where rising rents are still below those of larger coastal cities.

Bluelofts, combined with investor Kenny Wolfe, each hailing from Dallas, acquired the building and nearby 348-space parking garage for $21 million, according to sources who spoke off the record. There are also 32 parking spaces under the building, located at the southeast corner of Lakeside Avenue and East 9th Street.

Selling the property was New York-based private equity firm Somera Road, county records show. The buyers intend to start $50 million worth of renovations and improvements by November, with optimistic completion date of late-2022 or early 2023, the sources said.

Option 1 for a second-floor plan for 45 Erieview (Dimit).

But what makes this project more intriguing is that it is more responsive to a post-pandemic world than possibly any other existing building or pending development in downtown Cleveland. And Bluelofts has experience with live-work conversion projects, mostly in southern cities.

Their plan for 45 Erieview mixes apartments and work spaces for residential tenants in the conversion of a relatively modern, 16-story office tower. This building, constructed in 1983 as the headquarters for the Ohio Bell Telephone Co., may well be the perfect place to accommodate post-pandemic remote-work lifestyles.

The reason is the 492,864-square-foot building has sprawling office floors that measure about 37,000 square feet. Most office floorplates are under 30,000 square-feet; residential towers are even less. The floor sizes perplexed other potential buyers who passed on signing purchase agreements because they couldn't imagine how to use the big floors.

Option 2 for a second-floor plan for 45 Erieview (Dimit).

But the curving, outer walls of the building's glassy north face are an attraction as they offer terrific views of Lake Erie. So that's where 200 market-rate apartments will be located. In the interior of the building is where the largely window-less work spaces for residents will be. The city's building code requires residential uses to have windows; it doesn't require them for work spaces.

The presence of so many amenities also will be useful to residents who would live in what is still predominantly an office district. There aren't as many residential amenities here as there are further south along East 9th near Euclid Avenue.

However, James Kassouf, owner of the nearby Erieview Tower and Galleria, is proposing to add residential to the 40-story tower and supportive amenities to the Galleria. But those proposals were made several years ago when Kassouf bought the property. Little visible activity has happened since.


Seeds & Sprouts XVIII -- Hingetown bags grocer, Innovation Square to rise, Franklin West spaces out

This is the Eighteenth edition of Seeds & Sprouts - Early intelligence on Cleveland-area real estate projects. Because these projects are very early in their process of development or just a long-range plan, a lot can and probably will change their final shape, use and outcome.

This ground-floor site plan for Church+State in Ohio City's Hingetown
section shows which retail spots are leased and which ones are still
available. About half the ground-floor spaces are leased -- a feat
considering the hardships endured by many retailers during
the pandemic (Cleveland Building Department).

Hingetown's Church+State bags small grocery store

Nature's Oasis will add its third store in the Greater Cleveland area and its first in the City of Cleveland when it opens at the end of the year in the new Church+State development. The site is in the Hingetown section at the north end of the Ohio City neighborhood.

Graham Veysey, a principal in the Church+State project, confirmed the healthy, all-natural foods grocer will take about 3,500 square feet in Church, the shorter of the two buildings. Church is six stories tall while State tops out at 11. The development is named after Church Avenue and West 29th Street that was called State Street before north-side Cleveland streets were numbered in 1906. The store will open up on to Church Avenue.

Nature's Oasis first store is in downtown Lakewood with its second at the new Van Aken District in Shaker Heights. Their markets have hundreds of local products including bread and other baked goods, dairy products, produce, tea, coffee and more.

The grocer will join other new tenants at Church+State including Green Opal Salon and Great Lakes Health & Wellness; their leases were first reported by NEOtrans. They were joined by fitness center Corus45 which recently occupied a storefront facing Detroit Avenue.

The first phase of Fairfax Renaissance's Innovation Square is
getting ready to start construction. It is a big step forward for
the redevelopment of East 105th Street and the Opportunity
Corridor south of University Circle (City Architecture).

Innovation Square to build around holdout property

Look for construction work to start in the coming weeks to prepare the site for the first phase of Fairfax Renaissance Development Corp.'s Innovation Square development. That became a realistic possibility this week when plans for an 82-unit, mixed-income apartment building at 2260 E. 105th St. were submitted to the Cleveland's Building Department. The apartment building will be called Square 105.

Site improvements include removal of six areas of contaminated soils that will be placed in a pit, compacted and covered with 2 inches of clean fill material. General contractor McCormack Baron Salazar will also oversee removal of all pavements, structures, basements, poles, utilities and trees. Additionally, a new street will be added -- an extension of Hudson Avenue to the west side of East 105th.

However, Fairfax is going to have to work around a small property it has not yet been able to acquire for Square 105. The 0.074-acre parcel is owned by Clemark Property Associates Ltd. which also owns other east-side parcels. It acquired the property in 2016 after it was forfeited to the state, following the conviction of its prior owner Mark Makupson.

Site plan for Square 105, the first phase of the Innovation Square
that will also include new single-family homes and more multi-
family buildings. This phase is working around an East 103rd
Street property that has yet to be acquired (City Architecture).

He was sentenced to 13 years in prison for his reported leadership role in an interstate drug trafficking ring. Makupson's sentence was shortened because he testified against fellow drug dealers and three East Cleveland police officers. But he had to forfeit various assets including 2245 E. 103rd St.

According to Ohio Secretary of State records, Clemark was created by Makupson but now lists to Marquetta Makupson of Bowling Green. No relationship is known. Tax mailings for the property go to Tatiana Franklin of Wickliffe who also operates CRF Medical Staffing Agency, according to Cuyahoga County records and Google searches.

Estimated construction cost of Square 105 is about $10 million, according to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency which provided $8 million in tax credit equity to the project. The funding will provide for the site improvements, a 76-space parking lot (proposed for 93 spaces if 2245 E. 103rd can acquired) and the 79,500-square-foot apartment building.

This is an artist's rendering of the Franklin West apartments, 4815
Franklin Blvd., in Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood (Bowen).

Ohio City apartment project drives parking solution

While construction continues on the 24-unit Franklin West apartments, 4815 Franklin Blvd. in Cleveland's Ohio City, the developer has made a change to the project to accommodate the 25 required parking spaces for it.

Developer My Place Group LLC, owned by Chad Kertesz, previously received a parking variance for 20 parking spaces on site with the five remaining required spaces in the Iglesia Del Salvador Church, 4801 Franklin, parking lot on the east side of West 48th Street.

According to a filing with the building department, when the site layout was engineered, it was determined that only 15 spaces could fit on the site with the townhouse-style apartments.

My Place Group notified the city it had revised its lease agreement with the church to increase the number of leased parking spaces to 10. The total allotted number of spaces for the development is 15 on site and 10 in the church parking lot to achieve the required number of parking spaces.


First building permit issued for City Club Apartments tower

At long last, the first construction permit has been issued for the
proposed new City Club Apartments tower in downtown Cleve-
land, which will have an address of 776 Euclid Ave. (Vocon).

On Wednesday, Cleveland's Building Department issued the first of what will likely be many building permits for the construction of a 23-story apartment tower at 776 Euclid Ave. downtown. It is the first documented evidence that the nearly $100 million City Club Apartments tower is about to see tangible construction activity after numerous delays.

The permit issued is for relatively modest work -- a $115,000 job to be done by Mr. Excavator Inc. of Kirtland to install 13 catch basins with manholes, one grease interceptor, a 784-linear-foot storm and or sanitary sewer, and 120 linear feet of water distribution piping, the permit showed.

For the work to be done, it will likely require closing off and ripping up some or all of the existing parking lot at the above mentioned address. For many urbanistas, they will almost certainly rejoice in seeing a surface parking lot in downtown Cleveland torn up for site preparation to construct the planned 240-foot-tall tower called CBD Cleveland.

The 300-unit apartment building will connect to the existing parking behind, have balconies for many units, pool, fitness center and ground-floor retailers/restaurants. One could potentially be called The Hippodrome, a nod to the building and its ornate theater which stood on the site until 1981. Next door is the 1901-built City Club of Cleveland which coincidentally has a name similar to that of the planned apartment building.

Yes, Virginia, that's a bonafide building permit for
the new City Club Apartments tower. Although
it's "only" for site preparations work includ-
ing drainage, it is a job that must be done
before foundation work can start (B&H).

To avoid court orders to stop demolition, the Hippodrome Building was substantially razed in the middle of the night by Alvin Krenzler, a real estate investor who was appointed as a federal judge several months later. The site has remained a parking lot for 40 years.

But hopefully no more, as evidenced by the city's issuance of the building permit on July 14. Developing the apartment building is City Club Apartments (CCA) of Farmington Hills, MI. CCA has 22 residential properties throughout the Midwest -- from Pittsburgh to Minneapolis and south to Louisville.

CCA currently has four major projects in development, including the one in Cleveland. The others are a 17-story project in Chicago called the Lakeview, a six-story building in Detroit called the Midtown, and a 31-story redevelopment of the historic Union Central tower in Cincinnati. The first three projects involve new construction.

Despite the tangible progress of this week, there still has been no public record filed showing that there was a change of site control to CCA or any affiliate of CCA. Site control change can be by property transfer or long-term lease, but none has been recorded by the Cuyahoga County Fiscal Officer.

On May 7, city crews completed work to relocate utilities from
below the sidewalk to under Euclid Avenue so that a construc-
tion tower crane for the planned City Club Apartments
could be placed on the sidewalk (Ian Meadows).

However, such a change in site control could have occurred privately between CCA and the current property owner David Goldberg, doing business as GSK 720 Euclid, LLC, but not been filed yet by the county. Sources close to CCA said the developer is pursuing a 99-year lease with Goldberg to gain site control. Neither party was available for comment at this time.

On Aug. 21, 2020, City Planning Commission gave final approval of the apartment tower's design. One of the reasons why it has taken nearly 11 months to see the first building permit issued is reportedly because of CCA's founder, chairman and CEO Jonathan Holtzman. Sources close to the project say he has been extremely demanding and difficult to work with in getting deals done.

The sources said interior designs were reportedly changed to achieve CCA's already tight budget constraints made more challenging by record-high materials prices, such as for steel and wood. But those same sources said Holtzman has been upbeat and optimistic about the prospects for delivering CBD Cleveland apartment tower.


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.