Lakewood’s East End gets some refreshments

Developer Jim Miketo bought this Birdtown building whose
ground floor featured the Madison Bi-Rite until it closed two
years ago. This is what the building could look like with its
white paint removed and the bricks restored to their natural
color (Cresco). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM

Several properties at Lakewood’s East End have changed hands recently, resulting in new investments that are due to turn underutilized structures into productive buildings once again.

The latest and largest transaction occurred Oct. 16 when Jim Miketo, owner of Forest City Shuffleboard in Ohio City, acquired a three-story, 101-year-old, mixed-use building at 12501 Madison Ave., county records show. It recently hosted the Madison Bi-Rite grocery store and Silhouette School of Dance.

Starting in mid- to late-2020, Miketo plans to transform the upper two-thirds of the 30,588-square-foot building into approximately 20 new apartments, according to real estate brokerage Cresco which handled the property sale. The rest, about 9,000 square feet, will feature ground-floor retail fronting busy Madison, the main street of Lakewood’s Birdtown neighborhood.

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Along with converting the property into apartments over retail, Miketo proposes to offer a new fitness center, dedicated parking, outdoor spaces for grilling and an expansive rooftop deck that promises to offer views of Lake Erie and downtown Cleveland’s skyline.

“We are all about elevating historic neighborhoods and galvanizing communities while bringing new and unique developments to the area,” Miketo said in Cresco’s Oct. 16 blog. “This property is a cornerstone building in a community that has incredible historic significance and a thriving demographic. We’re beyond excited to be able to contribute to such a beautiful neighborhood and help continue its rich legacy.”

This is how 12501 Madison Ave. looked until its grocery store
closed two years ago. It has sat vacant ever since (Cresco).

The three-parcel property was acquired for $750,000 through a company named Little Jemmy, LLC that Miketo formed in July. The property was previously owned by Nicholas A. Sanfilippo’s Mulberry Street Properties LLC, county records show.

Another important property sale took place in July. Gregory Rossi of Rocky River bought the property at 11824 Detroit Ave. that contained the former Maria’s Roman Room restaurant for 44 years until it closed in 2005.

“He is opening a sports bar called the Ohio Inn,” said Ward 4 Councilman Dan O’Malley. “When I talked to him over the summer, he was ambitiously hoping to open for football season. Obviously it’s not yet open, but it’s progressing.”

Rossi has installed new windows and doors in the 96-year-old, 4,870-square-foot building that contains the restaurant on the first floor and apartments above. O’Malley said Rossi doesn’t own any other restaurants or bars in the Cleveland area but said he may have owned an establishment previously in the Youngstown area.

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According to LoveLakewood.com, Maria and Anthony “Chick” Bastulli owned and operated Maria’s Roman Room for 44 years before she sold the restaurant business in early 2005 to Leonard and Olga Fink, according to Lakewood Patch. The restaurant has been closed since 2009. Maria Bastulli passed away in 2017.

The building at 11824 Detroit Ave. that was home to Maria’s
Roman Room for 44 years until 2005. At left is the driveway
to the Value World store and municipal parking lot (Google).

County deed records show a company named Vibracorp, Inc. whose president was Angelo Gallo, acquired the property in 2012 for $110,000. Paul Colletti, owner of Brickhouse Bar and Grill in Slavic Village, tried in vain in 2013 to reopen the restaurant as a steakhouse called “Braised.”

Rossi, under the name 11824 Detroit LLC, bought the restaurant property for $350,000 on July 10, according to Cuyahoga County records that were later corrected on Sept. 6.

Another property transaction occurred June 27 when the city acquired the closed Cove United Methodist Church, 12525 Lake Ave., for $900,000. The city had been looking for a large, underutilized property for it to build additional capacity for aging storm and sanitary sewers at Lakewood’s East End.

With this large, 1.765-acre property, the city will be able to install an underground sewer retention tank and possibly retain the church for a future civic use like a community center. Or it could be demolished for development, considering the rising rents and low vacancies in the Gold Coast area. That will be decided after the sewer project, city officials said.

More refreshments are coming to the city’s East End. City officials are planning some modest streetscape improvements in the Rockport area, including new pole-mounted traffic lights on Detroit Avenue for the Coutant Avenue and Ridgewood/Cove Avenue intersections as well as renovations to the pocket park on Clifton Prado, O’Malley said.

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