Seeds & Sprouts – Early intel on real estate projects

This is the first 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.

Voss Industries’ aging, multiple-structure plant on West 25th in
Ohio City is due to be redeveloped with housing and likely some
ground-floor restaurants/retail following its sale to a Northbrook,
IL-based firm. That’s the same home city as the company
developing the Market Square mixed-use complex across

Ohio City: Voss plant to become apartment complex

More than 250 apartments are planned in Ohio City’s Market District following the purchase of Voss Industries’ property, 2168 W. 25th St., two sources said. The 4.2-acre site and its multiple buildings totaling 240,000 square feet were sold May 22 for $4.775 million to a paper company formed by David Rotenberg, a principal of Bixby Bridge Capital, LLC in the Chicago suburb of Northbrook, IL, according to Ohio Secretary of State filings.

The number of proposed apartments should translate to about 400 residents, or more than the current 267 jobs at Voss Industries (it had 320 jobs in the early 2010s), which is relocating to a more modern plant in Berea. Plus, there is likely to be ground-floor restaurant/retail uses in the redeveloped factory which dates to 1936, per its deactivated LoopNet listing.

Bixby Bridge Capital invests primarily in Sun Belt real estate, with some Midwest exceptions, mostly in Chicago. They also provide equity to renovation projects, carried out in partnerships with developers. The Voss Industries site is located in an Opportunity Zone, making it eligible for a new source of equity from the OZ program. Numerous Cleveland-area projects are moving forward as a result of this new program.

The site is across West 25th from the Market Square development, where Harbor Bay Real Estate Advisors, LLC of Northbrook, IL (same hometown as Bixby Bridge Capital) expects to break ground this year on a 10-story 150,000-square-foot office building, a 7-story 267-unit apartment building (both buildings timber-framed), plus 75,000 square feet of retail and 560-space parking deck.

Just east of Market Square, Carnegie Development won a bid from the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) to develop 1.3 acres of land next to the Ohio City Red Line station and additional space above the tracks south of Abbey Road. To the north of the station, and despite putting the project on hold if not considering selling the property outright, Brickhaus Partners will reportedly pursue development of the mixed-use One West Twenty after all.

Clearly, the real estate market near the West Side Market and the GCRTA train station is picking up steam.

The Lumen apartment tower, under construction at Euclid
Avenue and East 17th Street, soars into Cleveland’s May sky
as the Playhouse Square Foundation considers its next move
following completion next year (Ichabod The Crane/Twitter).

Playhouse Square: The Lumen, Act II

What will Playhouse Square Foundation (PHS) in downtown Cleveland do for an encore if early leasing at The Lumen apartment tower on Euclid Avenue at East 17th Street meets or exceeds expectations? The next performance could well be another residential tower for the theater district.

One place might be atop PHS’s two-story Cowell & Hubbard Building on Euclid at East 13th (has the big “Playhouse Square” sign above it) which was designed to support an eight-story vertical addition. However, PHS can and reportedly does receive a tax deduction from a conservation easement of air space over this qualified historic structure. In other words, PHS gets a tax break by not developing above the Cowell & Hubbard Building in order to preserve its historic integrity. So it’s in no hurry to develop it.

Instead, the site at the southeast corner of Chester Avenue and East 13th Street has PHS’s interest, according to two sources. That’s where PHS in 2016 strategically acquired 0.9 acres of land, currently used as a 114-space parking lot, for future development. PHS did so as it was finalizing the financing package for The Lumen.

For comparison, The Lumen sets on a 1-acre parcel, but the tower’s floorplates are much smaller than the garage which occupies most of the lot. No new parking deck may be necessary for a Chester-East 13th development. In other words, there’s plenty of room there to build something vertical even though it’s not on a main drag as are The Lumen or Cowell & Hubbard.

One of the rationales in PHS building the 34-story, 602,000-square-foot Lumen tower was that it would put more pedestrian activity on Euclid Avenue. The activity would come from more than just those living in the 318 apartments. It would also come from shifting many visitor parking spaces from behind the theaters to across the street from them, thus encouraging more theatergoers to step out on Euclid to see and patronize the district’s restaurants and shops. The Lumen’s 550 parking spaces will help make that happen.

So the strategy comes from freeing up parking in the 800-space deck behind the theaters, at 1450 Chester Ave., to help support a residential tower built on the neighboring lot at Chester and East 13th. The land here is zoned for general retail and height district 6, meaning a mixed-use building as tall as 600 feet can be built without a variance.

No one yet knows how tall would it actually be. But if lots of people rent apartments in The Lumen, this second act could have a bigger, happier ending.

J-Roc Development’s planned West 78th Street Community
could represent the start of housing density pushing westward
from Battery Park in to an existing industrial area (J-Roc).

Detroit-Shoreway: Lake Avenue gap-filling

As investment in redevelopment pushes west along Detroit Avenue and the lakefront toward the well-kept Edgewater neighborhood, a gap of investment remains in the middle. Specifically, the section of Lake Avenue between Detroit Avenue and Clifton Boulevard has been left out of the revitalization of the west side’s lakefront. So far…

The Lake Avenue Master Plan hopes to change that. Two public meetings were scheduled to gather input for the master plan. The first was in February with the second set for April 10. But that was rescheduled for 6 p.m. May 29 at the 78th Street Studios, 1305 W. 80th St.

The Detroit-Shoreway Community Development Corp. is the plan’s sponsor. Bialosky Cleveland is their consultant. Lots of ideas are being submitted for redesigning the Lake Avenue street right of way, refurbishing the railroad underpass, and establishing a land use vision for the area.

One idea is for redeveloping the 21-acre industrial triangle north of Lake toward the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks with mixed use, including some vertical housing. The land is currently zoned for general industry and semi-industry, but with height districts allowing buildings as tall as 60 feet (six stories) along Lake and 115 feet (11 stories) just south of the tracks. That height district or higher (the next levels up would permit 175 and 250 feet) would allow great views of Edgewater Park, Lake Erie and downtown Cleveland

There are already rumors that Lowe Chemical Co. wants to move from its 2.7-acre parcel at 8300 Baker Ave. Since 1984, the 51-year-old firm has owned this facility, built in 1890 with a well-kept, brick, 17,072-square-foot plant office building. It uses its rail access and is apparently seeking a new site with rail access. Next door are three largely underutilized parcels totaling 2.156 acres owned by Brian Spurgeon and partially used by his family’s company, B&K Scaffolding Co.

To the eastern end of this hemmed-in industrial district is the Battery Park neighborhood, formerly the Eveready Battery Co. factory. More housing could soon be encroaching deeper on the industrial district, as J-Roc Development has acquired a 1-acre strip of land along the east side of West 78th. There, based on early conceptual massings, J-Roc envisions a long, six-story apartment building fronted by townhouses.

It’s across the street from the West 78th Studios (site of the May 29 public meeting), a factory converted into artist galleries, studios and performance spaces a decade ago. It may have been what set this lakefront neighborhood on a course toward a conversion from industry to mixed uses. Then again, the spread of redevelopment west from Gordon Square might have already fated this area’s 21st century purpose.

The makeup of retail on West 25th Street may continue changing
with a planned Pins bowling alley, across the street from Mitchell’s
Ice Cream shop. Daniels Furniture will reportedly consolidate into
an existing store location at 2800 Superior Ave. (Google).

Ohio City: from furniture to Pins

Daniels Furniture, 1882 W. 25th St. in Ohio City, is reportedly under a purchase agreement by developer Chad Kertesz for renovation and conversion into a bowling alley named Pins, two sources say. The Ohio City neighborhood is popular with young professionals and bowling is a popular participatory sport among young people, so it’s not surprising that a bowling alley is a strike for the Market District.

The decades-old store is spread among two parcels totaling 0.26 acres and two brick buildings, a 4,402-square-foot structure built in 1923 and a 13,826-square-foot structure built in 1910 with a terra cotta facade. The larger building was built with several second-floor apartments but are no longer occupied and their windows were covered with concrete blocks.

Daniels Furniture is a local chain of three stores, so it will stay in business. It reportedly plans to consolidate its two center-city stores into its location on the east edge of downtown, 2800 Superior Ave. in the Superior Arts District. Daniels Furniture other Cleveland-area location is 4569 Northfield Rd. in North Randall. A Daniels Furniture representative refused to comment.


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