UPDATED AUG. 24 WITH COMMENTS BY WAYNE JATSEK
For those watching the City Planning Commission’s virtual meeting yesterday, two examples of sudden growth were apparent. Both centered around a new apartment building project in the Edgewater Hill section of Cleveland’s Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood.
The examples of sudden growth raises a couple of tangential questions: Where did this apartment building development suddenly come from? And where did its developer, Brecksville-based United Community Developers, suddenly come from too?
The development is a 75-unit apartment building at 1351 W. 73rd St. whose design won final approval at yesterday’s City Planning Commission meeting. Commission members were unanimous in their support of the final design. The project has the working title “West 73rd Street Apartments.”
A prior plan for the site called Edgewater Hill Luxury Townhomes had 21 townhouses. It cleared all of the planning and development hurdles and was days away from a groundbreaking ceremony scheduled for May 9, 2019. But the groundbreaking never happened.
The 0.725-acre townhouse development site continues to be owned by the developer that sought to build the townhouses — an affiliate of Cleveland Custom Homes located in Westlake. The rest of the apartment building site is owned by Columbus-based Wickford Holdings LLC run by developer Michael Casey.
|Proposed site plan and location of the West 73rd Apartments in the
Edgewater Hill section of the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood.
Detroit Avenue is just out of view at the bottom (Dimit/CPC).
Those two properties will be acquired as neither Cleveland Custom Homes or Wickford Holdings will be involved in the West 73rd Apartments, said United Community Developers’ principal Wayne Jatsek in an Aug. 24 e-mail. Total area of the development site is 1.14 acres.
“Neither Wickford nor Cleveland Homes are affiliated with the new development,” Jatsek said.
As fast as the Edgewater Hill townhouse development plan disappeared, the apartment building project took its place. It isn’t unusual for apartment bulding projects of this size in Cleveland to linger for a few years before they get final approval from Planning Commission. Not this one.
The site for the project isn’t a surprise, however. West 73rd has become a principal thoroughfare since December 2016 when it was punched through to Edgewater Park with the aid of $34 million in local and state funds. It was part of a concerted effort to increase this neighborhood’s access to the lakefront by improving pedestrian, bike and vehicular routes under the busy Norfolk Southern railroad tracks and the Shoreway.
Two small warehouse buildings on the site will be razed and replaced by a long, four-story, 95,000-square-foot apartment building that “steps down” in the middle of the structure to account for the land sloping down northward toward the lake, said Maggie Young, an architect at Lakewood-based Dimit Architects LLC.
The West 73rd Street Apartments’ final design has 91 parking spaces which exceeds that which is required by the building code. Most of the parking spaces will be below the apartment building with access via a driveway near the intersection of West 73rd and Herman Avenue. Also proposed are internal and external bike racks.
|With West 73rd Street in the foreground and downtown Cleveland
along with Lake Erie in the distance, United Community Deve-
lopers is banking that its development’s proximity to those
and other assets will be a draw to tenants (Dimit/CPC).
On the east side of the building facing the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School’s athletic field will be a swimming pool that has a sun shelf with lounge chairs in water that is 6-9 inches deep. Surrounding the building will be plantings that were changed to be more pet-friendly as a result of input from the Near-West Design-Review Committee.
Also planned are numerous rooftop amenities including a putting green, bocce court, sitting area, hammocks, wood deck, rooftop bar and grill area with TVs, said Peggy Brown, a landscape architect based in Cleveland Heights.
Planning Commission member Diane Downing said she has a daughter who lives across West 73rd from the development site. She noted that traffic on the street already backs up on the street. She asked how this West 73rd Street Apartments project as well as two more buildings offering another 250 apartments planned farther north will affect traffic.
Young said there is no traffic study yet for the West 73rd Apartments and said United Community Developers is working with the Edgewater Hill Block Club on its members’ concerns and ideas.
City planner Adam Davenport said the city is considering some traffic-calming features for West 73rd which was completely rebuilt two years ago from Detroit Avenue north to Father Frascati Drive. A stop sign at the intersection of West 73rd and Herman could be added, he said.
“Design-Review supported this (apartment building) project more than the previous plan which was townhouses,” Davenport said.
In the wake of the townhouse project, United Community Developers led by Jatsek stepped in. He and his development firm are somewhat enigmatic. Few in local development circles had heard of either until this past spring when Jatsek and his firm announced a 27-story apartment tower called The Viaduct to rise above the Flats West Bank at 2208 Superior Viaduct. That project won schematic approval from Planning Commission yesterday.
|The east side of the proposed West 73rd Apartments complex
features a swimming pool above a subterranean parking
deck. Out of view to the right is Our Lady of Mt.
Carmel School’s athletic field. (Dimit/CPC).
“Ideally, we would like to perform both projects in tandem,” Jatsek said. “However, we understand the approval process for The Viaduct may take some additional time due to the complexity of the building and the challenges of the site. Project overlap may be a best-case scenario.”
Although no cost estimate for The Viaduct has been publicly released, it may approach $100 million. Similarly, the cost of the West 73rd Apartments is not officially known either, but could carry a price tag in the neighborhood of $20 million.
Those are a couple of big projects for a developer without a long track record constructing big buildings — or at least delivering increasingly larger buildings over many years. Jatsek and several in his family do have a track record, but mostly with numerous smaller projects including home renovations and additions as well as heavy-highway construction projects.
Jatsek was the frontman for a 24-unit luxury townhouse development in Westlake called Hillsborough Point on Center Ridge Road. Despite winning over voters in 2017 to change the zoning for the site from general business to multi-family, the project was ultimately shot down by Westlake’s Planning Commission. Last spring, Jatsek said the design was probably too urban for Westlake. So he headed to the city to try his luck there.
According to sources, Jatsek is a frontman for others including unidentified Opportunity Zone fund investors. Jatsek said he intends to secure additional financing from the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority and other partners. Most recently, United Community Developers has joined forces with two giants in local development circles — Geis Companies and the Osborne Group to build The Viaduct.
Jatsek acknowledges that United Community Developers is taking big steps forward with these projects but didn’t respond to questions about his funders and partners or how his firm’s sudden rise might be perceived by others. But suffice it to say, the real work for United Community Developers is about to begin.