After the first few minutes of talking with Graham Veysey, it’s apparent that he appreciates cities and their primary purpose of causing personal interaction. In his businesses and neighborhood initiatives focused on the Hingetown section of Ohio City, he has attempted to spur more and different ways for people to interact.
Promoting opportunities for interaction abound in the design and construction of his latest and largest real estate development: Church + State.
The $60 million real estate investment is a partnership among Grammar Properties, Hemingway Development of Cleveland, Cedar Street Development of Chicago and Turner Construction. It is located near the intersection of Church Avenue and West 29th Street. West 29th was State Street before 1906 when Cleveland’s north-south streets were given numerical names. Grammar Properties is a partnership of its own, between Veysey and his architect wife?Marika Shioiri-Clark.
Leasing starts Feb. 22 for the 158 apartments in the two-building development. The leasing coincides with the?Brite Winter Music & Arts Festival?to be?held Feb. 22-23 on the Flats West Bank where Church + State will be promoted.
|Views from atop Church + State of downtown, Lake Erie and
surrounding area can be had from both State (11-story building)
and Church (six-story building)?from the fourth floors up (KJP).
The 11-story building is called State, opening in August; its six-story neighbor is Church, opening in June. Between them is Church + State Way, a public, open-air atrium measuring 10,000 square feet. Veysey said it’s larger than Market Square Park across West 25th Street from the West Side Market.
Church + State Way’s public accessibility is exemplified in that Ohio City Inc.’s Clean and Safe program, funded by the neighborhood’s special improvement district, will oversee this public space, Veysey explained.
The atrium, where interaction is encouraged by design, has lots of interactive features sought by young people. It has everything from a 10-spout water park/fountain, sitting steps for performers, a 17-foot red corkscrew spiral slide and a six-story-tall rock climbing wall on Church to be managed on weekends and holidays by Cleveland Rocks that’s redeveloping the old Masonic Hall nearby on Franklin Boulevard.
|Between Church (right) and State
(left) is the tower crane which was
jumped up to its highest level this
week, rising from the Church and
State Way atrium (KJP).
Above the atrium will be one of the largest public art installations in the region, Veysey said. Measuring over 600 linear feet long and two stories tall, the mural will wrap two levels of elevated parking deck in the middle floors of State.
“We’ve gone out to 20 artists from around the world with an RFP (request for proposals) that’s due on Valentine’s Day,” Veysey said.
He said the arts component is one of the things his partners are most excited about is amplifying the work that is being done by neighbors in Hingetown. That includes the Transformer Station,?FRONT Triennial, Spaces, Bop Stop?and the Intermuseum Conservation Association.
|Graham Veysey shows off the 200-bike storage room in
Church,?just off the atrium. The bike room and adjoining
shower is for?tenants, be they residents or workers at
at Church +?State (KJP).
“You’ve got both the hub of activity in Hingetown with great bars and restaurants. Then you’ve got these cultural spots where you can take in a world-class art show and that’s some of the stuff we’re trying to continue the momentum with,” he added.
Veysey takes pride in Hingetown’s role in local history, too. It was the center of Ohio City when it was a separate municipality from Cleveland. And it remained a neighborhood gathering spot until the new, larger West Side Market opened in 1912, replacing its smaller, 72-year-old predecessor across the street.
Examples of Hingetown’s early importance are found near Church + State, including the city’s oldest consecrated building, St. John Episcopal Church, opening in 1838. Veysey’s first efforts at revitalizing Hingetown started in the 1854-built fire station on West 29th where he and his wife first set up living quarters. Their revitalization efforts have attracted national attention.
|The apartments in Church + State aren’t much to look at right
now. But they do make for an abstract expression of art
with four to six months of construction to go (KJP).
More examples of the project’s emphasis on community interaction extend from the ground-floor lobby to a rooftop event space. Their facilities will be publicly available by an app-based reservation and pass system that will roll out in April, Veysey said.
The lobby in State will feature a fireplace, conference room and fitness center, all publicly accessible. The public parking, totaling about 40 spaces, will be in the middle levels of State. The rest of the 214 total parking spaces are underneath the entire site. The rooftop event space called The Lantern will be above Church where weddings, receptions, birthday parties and other gatherings can be held.
Plus, there will be 20,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and the largest bike garage on the West Side, capable of accommodating up to 200 bicycles for residents and retail workers, enhancing Church + State’s community attraction.
It has also attracted partners like Michael Panzica who joined forces with Grammar Properties while with Hemingway Development. He’s starting his own firm M. Panzica Development to focus on multi-family, mixed-use and single-tenant development projects in Northeast Ohio while he’s wrapping up his work with Hemingway.
Panzica and Grammar are pursuing a follow-on development called Bridgeworks on the former Cuyahoga County Engineer’s property at the northeast corner of West 25th and the Detroit-Superior Bridge.
Bridgeworks will feature one or two residential buildings with a maximum height of 10 stories. Planning for Bridgeworks is moving forward simultaneously with construction coming down the home stretch for Church + State.
|On the bare concrete wall, behind
the construction worker, will be a
six-story rock-climbing wall that
will be available to the public on
weekends and holidays (KJP).
“I’m very excited about this project,” Panzica said, referring to Church + State. “We’re going to have unobstructed views from the fourth floor up.”
The 11-story State is the tallest building to rise in Ohio City since the 19-story Lakeview Tower, 2700 Washington Ave., was built in 1973. It is on the other side of the West Shoreway from Church + State. The 15-story Riverview Tower, 1795 West 25th, was built in 1964.
Panzica also points out that Church + State has received the first U.S. Housing & Urban Development loan for new construction in Cleveland going back as far as he could find. It’s a $43 million, 40-year loan at a below-market interest rate. The project also received a $2 million, 15-year loan from Cuyahoga County.
|Lake Erie is visible from the fourth floors and higher in
Church + State.?Lakeview Tower is on the right. Church +
State?is the tallest?development to rise in Ohio City since
Lakeview?Tower opened?in 1973 (KJP).
“We had to get creative on our financing,” Panzica said. “Development projects are getting easier in Cleveland but construction costs and land costs are going up and they’re outpacing the increases in rent.”
He noted that Church + State’s exterior will feature materials not typically used in Cleveland developments, such as Spanish slate and extruding planes made from white aluminum planks.
“We spent years designing this,” Veysey added. “Part of our measure of success with this project will be our ability to over-deliver on the final product.”
|The taller State building and Church just
beyond loom over the intersection of
their namesakes Church Avenue and
West?29th (formerly State) Street (KJP).
But the ultimate success will hinge on whether the Church + State creates a greater sense of community in Hingetown through greater interaction.
“We want to make this an amenity not just for the residents but for the neighborhood where it’s a place to gather,” Veysey said. “It’s a place to find community. That community goes way beyond the 158 apartments and its residents.”