Chester75 sounds University Circle’s boom in Hough

Proposed-development-in-Hough-neighborhood-Chester75
Proposed at the northwest corner of Chester Avenue and
East 75th Street in Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood,
Chester75 is the latest development to capitalize on
growing rents and shortages of quality housing in
and near booming University Circle (Famicos).
CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE

UPDATED APRIL 13, 2020

A significant, multi-phase residential development is proposed on the border of the Hough and Fairfax neighborhoods, in the vicinity of Chester Avenue and East 75th Street. It and other developments represent a continued spillover effect from booming employers and residential investments in neighboring University Circle.

The Famicos Foundation, a nonprofit community development corporation, submitted building permit applications to the city this week for the first phase of Chester75, to rise on the northwest corner of Chester and East 75th. The site at 1914 E. 75th St. previously was home to the Cedar Congregation of Jehovah Witnesses.

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In its place, Famicos is proposing a four-story, 56,700-square-foot market-rate apartment building. According to its permit application, the building will offer a mix of studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and two-story townhome-style units.

Included in the proposed apartment building’s designs are ground-floor common areas, a fourth-floor community room, roof deck and 50 off-street parking spaces, the permit application shows. City Architecture is the architect.

Famicos acquired the 0.84-acre site on May 10, 2019 from JW Congregation Support Inc. of Ulster County, New York for $300,000, according to a deed transfer filed a week later with the Cuyahoga County Recorder.

Chester75 is the result of a partnership among multiple entities. However, the project’s developer is not yet known. It has one, otherwise permit applications wouldn’t have been submitted to the city. But Knez Homes founder and president Bo Knez refuted a recent report in Ward 7 Councilman Basheer Jones’ newsletter that his firm will be the developer. He said he bid on the project but hasn’t heard any response since.

Site plan for the first phase of Chester75 (CPC).

The principal financier of the project is AES Management Corp. and its President Vanessa Whiting, according to a source, confirmed by Cuyahoga County records. On April 16, 2019, AES Management loaned $350,000 to Famicos which used 1914 E. 75th as collateral.

AES Management Corp. is the owner and operator of 15 Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen franchises in the Cleveland-Akron area according to Whiting’s LinkedIn page. The firm also supports local affordable housing developments. This market-rate development is reportedly a different direction for AES Management.

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However, Whiting’s son, Tony Smith II, is a development associate with First Interstate Properties which recently developed the luxury 20-story One University Circle apartment tower on Euclid Avenue at Stokes Boulevard. The firm is currently pursuing a $20 million, 88-unit, mid-market apartment building up the hill from University Circle called 121 Larchmere. Smith reportedly is working on Chester75 independently of First Interstate.

As noted earlier, the northwest corner of Chester and East 75th is considered to be the first phase of Chester75. At least two more corners and possibly the fourth corner are also in play for residential development and possibly some ground-floor commercial uses. It is too early to know yet if and where multi-family buildings or townhomes would be placed on which quadrants of the intersection.

At a public meeting held last fall about the development, Famicos’ Executive Director John Anoliefo said the nonprofit development organization was in the process of acquiring additional properties for the Chester75 development, according to the Ward 7 newsletter.

Conceptual usage of the area around Chester Avenue and
East 75th Street, looking generally east (Ward 7 Observer).

On the northeast corner of Chester and East 75th in the Hough neighborhood is 2.7 acres of vacant land that is mostly in the city’s Land Re-utilization Program.

On the southeast corner in the Fairfax neighborhood are mostly underutilized properties except for the designated historic landmark Charles Frederick Schweinfurth house built in 1894. Schweinfurth was a famous architect. The home on East 75th was his personal residence.

On the southwest corner is a mix of developed and vacant properties. But the next block west starts a collection of properties owned by local and national developers and investors including Berusch Development Partners LLC (dba Euclid 71 LLC), Vazza Real Estate Group (dba BD Euclid Ave LLC and BD Cleveland LLC) and David Chesler.

The Chester75 development is a direct result of fast-growing employment at the nearby Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and its spin-off businesses, as well as from University Circle seeing some of the fastest-rising rents in the country. Rents there grew 44 percent last year.

NEOtrans first reported the Chester75 development last November in a news brief about University Circle-area growth spilling over into neighboring Hough where new rental listings rose nearly 8 percent last year to $1,415 for a one-bedroom apartment, according to Rent.com.

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