Seeds & Sprouts X – Early intel on real estate projects

This is the Tenth 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.

Conceptual plans for the new Walz Branch of the Cleveland Public Library,
topped with 51 affordable senior apartments, were presented to the Cleve-
land Landmarks Commission this week. Although the design intends
to raise the library’s presence in the 7900 block of Detroit Avenue,
the commission said it went too far, pointing to the trapezoidal
overhang that dominates the facade (RPMI-Bialosky).

New Walz Library, apartments offer neighborhood transformation

Cleveland Landmarks Commission gave mixed reviews in its first look this week at plans for a new Walz Branch of the Cleveland Public Library (CPL) topped by affordable senior apartments. The development is proposed to be built on the site of the existing library, 7910 Detroit Ave., as well as where the neighboring Detroit Chateau apartment building, 7918 Detroit Ave., now stands.

Also the commission approved demolition of the 100-year-old Detroit Chateau, owned by the Detroit-Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO), to help clear the way for the project. Demolition approval rested with the Landmarks Commission because the building is located in the? Detroit-Shoreway Historic District. Detroit Chateau is due to be razed in December.

Detroit Chateau has only seven of its 19 units occupied by tenants who will be relocated to new housing. The building needs $1.5 million in improvements and incurs a $20,000 per year operating losses to the community development corporation, said Brittany Senger, DSCDO’s project manager of multi-family development.

When DSCDO asked the State Historic Preservation Office in 2013 to include the heavily modified Detroit Chateau on the National Register of Historic Places, it determined the building doesn’t have sufficient historical or architectural character to warrant inclusion. That significantly reduced the chances of the building being eligible for historic tax credits or getting renovated.

Instead, DSCDO will apply for low-income housing tax credits to be awarded in May 2021 from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency for new construction. The apartment building above the new Walz Branch could have 51 apartments — 20 two-bedroom units, 26 one-bedroom apartments, and five studios totaling 38,914 square feet. Planned is a rooftop deck, community room, on-site laundry and wellness center, Senger said.

The 53-year-old library also has its issues. As part of its 10-year, $100 million masterplan to rebuild or replace its facilities, CPL said the Walz Branch should have 15,000 square feet to meet programming requirements. Walz has only 9,700 square feet. The library is named after Dr. Frederick Wilhelm Walz who donated land for the library upon his death in 1945.

Also, the library building has no elevator or restrooms on the main level fronting Detroit, requiring disabled patrons to go outside and use the sloping parking lot to reach the lower level at the back of the building. Public meeting rooms are also on the lower level, Senger said.

“This has been a 10-year planning process,” said Ward 15 Councilman Matt Zone. “With the land assembly (by DSCDO) behind the site, this has the opportunity to be one of the most transformative developments in our neighborhood in perhaps the last 50 years.”

But several commission members pushed back against conceptual designs for the library topped by apartments. Much of the disdain was directed at the inclusion of a trapezoidal roof overhanging the glassy facade facing south at Detroit. Some said it was too thick, too tall, too large and blocks the apartment building residents’ views of the street. There was no action taken by the commission on the conceptual designs.

Senger said that Zone wanted a design that gave the library a noticeable presence from the street. He said too many people pass by the library and don’t even know that it’s there. The conceptual designs for the mixed-use development were produced by Robert P. Madison International Inc. and Bialosky Cleveland.

After final designs are submitted and approved by the commission, the Walz Branch library is scheduled to be temporarily relocated in 2022 and its 53-year-old building demolished. Completion of the new branch topped by apartments is anticipated for May 2023.

Jacobs Entertainment Inc.’s 5.6 acres of land it listed for sale is
shown above in yellow and includes the air rights above the
parcels shown in blue and green (LoopNet).

CASTO backs away from Flats site, replaced by another?

Confirming a report shared only by NEOtrans, Columbus-based real estate developer CASTO acknowledged it was interested in a large plot of Flats West Bank land put up for sale by Jacobs Entertainment Inc. However, a representative of Casto said they chose not to pursue it further.
“CASTO is not in a tentative agreement nor do we plan to acquire the 5.6-acre land described in the (NEOtrans) articles,” said Lauren Bowers, CASTO’s manager of marketing and communications. “We did look at the land a while ago but nothing came of it.”
The 5.6 acres land that Jacobs put up for sale in March is located on the Cuyahoga River waterfront. The land, with about 300 parking spaces on them, is north of Jacobs’ Nautica Entertainment Complex including the Powerhouse at Nautica. The offered land does not include the Powerhouse’s parking lot — only the air rights above it.
Jacobs is asking $17.5 million for the land, or just over $3 million per acre. That’s in the ballpark for recent sales of land around the edges of downtown Cleveland. If the sale amount is close to that, only a large, vertical development might generate enough revenue to achieve a decent return on the property investment.
On the opposite side of the historic Superior Viaduct, another development team is seeking a separate, potential project at 1250 Riverbed St. Although still early, it could be a high-rise development that might require construction of a multi-level parking deck on Elm Street, between the Powerhouse and Stonebridge Plaza, 1237 Washington Ave.
Word is that 1250 Riverbed’s development team is talking about that parking deck with another development team that is pursuing the Jacobs Entertainment property. However it is not known who is interested in the Jacobs land this time.
CASTO’s first development in Cleveland is still under construction. Work is wrapping up on the Dexter Place apartments in Ohio City, on Franklin Boulevard at a traffic circle that’s being restored at West 28th Street and Fulton Road. The five-story Dexter Place has 115 market-rate apartments over 8,660-square-feet of ground-floor commercial space.
Buyers Products is expanding again in Mentor where it already has
more than 1.4 million square feet of offices, warehouses and manu-
facturing facilities. The company is adding a 280,000-square-foot
distribution center and 17,500 square feet of offices (Buyers).

Buyers Products breaks ground for new warehouse

Construction is underway to double the size of Buyers Productsdistribution center and corporate headquarters in Mentor to accommodate the company’s growing business needs. The company, a leading manufacturer in the work truck equipment industry, is located at 9049 Tyler Blvd.
The expansion includes 280,000 square feet of 67-foot-high, brand-new, state-of-the-art warehouse space with 20 additional docks. Simultaneously Buyers will add another 17,500 square feet of office space and expand its employee parking. Although the company did not disclose how many new jobs will be added by doubling the facility’s size, the existing warehouse and offices accommodate several hundred jobs.
“As customer demands continue to grow, it’s imperative that we keep up,” said Gary Kadow, warehouse operations manager at Buyers. “Our customers know to come to us for excellent service and rapid delivery. They expect to get what they need delivered when they need it. This expansion ensures we continue to exceed those expectations.”
Buyers current warehouse stands at 250,000 square feet. It was built in 2002 and expanded to its current size in 2007. It added another 310,000 square foot fabrication facility in Mentor and, in 2012, the company acquired a 500,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, also in Mentor at 8200 Tyler. That brought Buyers-owned facilities in Mentor to four, totaling more than 1.4 million square feet.
On August 18, a small groundbreaking ceremony was held in accordance with current social distancing guidelines to kick-off construction of the new expansion. The ceremony included brief statements from company leadership and a “Golden Shovel” ceremony to honor outstanding members of the Buyers team for their contributions toward the company’s ongoing success. The company was founded in 1946.

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