Bridgeworks plans revealed, will add to Hingetown’s height

Conceptual plans for Bridgeworks in Ohio City show an 11-story
apartment building and a seven-story hotel alongside repurposed,
former Cuyahoga County Engineer structures. This view looks
generally north, with the West 25th Street-Detroit Avenue
intersection visible at the bottom??(LDA-B&H).

UPDATED NOV. 10, 2020

Conceptual plans were submitted to the city this week for a mixed-use development in the Hingetown section of Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood. According to those plans, the tallest building would rise to 11 stories or about 127 feet high.

The project is Bridgeworks, a partnership of Grammar Properties LLC and M. Panzica Development, on the northeast corner of West 25th Street and the Detroit-Superior Bridge. The project’s address is 2429 Superior Viaduct.

The 11-story apartment building at Bridgeworks will feature 167 market-rate and affordable units with a 2,000-square-foot ground-floor commercial space facing West 25th. The building will have tremendous views of downtown, Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River. The site is across the street from the planned Irishtown Bend Park for which site work and hill stabilization has begun.

Wedged into the corner of the apartment tower will be a seven-story boutique hotel with 130 rooms, ground-floor coffee/commons bar, art gallery and an amenity space. The hotel will incorporate several historic Cuyahoga County Engineers’ buildings into it, namely a three-story former office/laboratory building, Art Moderne-designed garage and an entry to the former streetcar subway below the Detroit-Superior Bridge.

The old subway entrance will be rehabilitated to accommodate non-public functions of the hotel, according to a project summary submitted to the city. There will also be a public plaza surrounding it. Below the site will be two levels of underground parking plus a first-floor, enclosed parking area. In total, 180 structured spaces will be provided, not including 30 unassigned spaces along the street, plans show.

Conceptual site plan for the Bridgeworks development (LDA-B&H).

The total size of the development measures about 233,734 square feet. Development cost estimates are not yet available but could be similar to the $60 million price tag of the previous project jointly undertaken by Grammar Properties and M. Panzica Development — Church+State development located a couple of blocks west along Detroit Avenue.

Graham Veysey and Michael Panzica, principals of the development’s partnering firms, did not respond to phone calls and text messages seeking comment prior to publication of this article.

Two sources close to the development who spoke off the record because they were not authorized to speak publicly about it said that enough financing has come together to allow Bridgeworks to proceed. However, the hotel brand hasn’t been nailed down yet. Negotiations are continuing. The project’s developers are reportedly hoping to start construction in the second quarter of 2021. Construction could take 18-24 months.

An historic designation was awarded for the Cuyahoga County Engineers’ buildings in September that would make their renovation eligible for historic tax credits. But the amount of those credits is likely to be too small to make a significant contribution to the developers’ capital stack, the sources said.

The historic buildings will be retained in the development because they will reduce construction costs. Also reducing construction costs is the desire to leave undeveloped an 11,100-square-foot plot of land at the eastern end of the roughly 2-acre Bridgeworks site. That piece of land may remain undeveloped as a public greenspace or it could be developed someday, the sources said.

The developers, organized as Bridgeworks LLC, have an agreement to acquire the 2-acre site from the county after a recent property disposition process. NEOtrans broke the story nearly two years ago about the county engineers’ property hitting the market and again six months later about Panzica et al acquiring the site.

Location of the Bridgeworks development is outline in white,
with downtown Cleveland in the background (Google).

Previous comments by Veysey and Panzica suggested the Bridgeworks development might top out in the 8-10 stories range. But a larger-scale project was desired based on leasing success at Church+State. That project’s first residential tenants moved in several months ago with the smaller, six-story Church building nearly full and the larger State rapidly filling up.

Retail leasing at Church+State lagged due to the pandemic. But the sources said that one unidentified retail tenant has recently signed on and lease drafts are being worked on for at least two more potential restaurant-retail tenants.

It should be noted that while Bridgeworks is proposed to be 11 stories like Church+State, the latter tops out at just under 115 feet high to conform to its zoning code’s height district. The height district in which Bridgeworks would rise allows 250-foot-tall buildings, so Bridgeworks could rise much taller if the developers wanted. In fact, across the street, a proposed 27-story apartment tower called The Viaduct is planned.

Bridgeworks will probably require a variance for the project’s density, as the city’s zoning code is antiquated and is being considered for replacement with a form-based code. The existing code allows?a maximum gross floor area that’s only six times the lot area. And the site is zoned for limited retail business albeit with an urban form overlay.

The extent of code variances that may need to be granted by the Board of Zoning Appeals is why Veysey and Panzica submitted the conceptual plans to the city this week, said Tom McNair, executive director of Ohio City Inc., a community development corporation.

“They want to get their hands around what variances might be required,” he said. “Conceptually speaking, the project is fantastic for the neighborhood. We’re approaching 1,000 units of housing along Detroit from West 25th to West 32nd. And Lower Detroit from 29th on in is even more dense. It? makes that scale (of Bridgeworks) feel appropriate. I think this is one of those areas in Cleveland where you can add that height.”

Several fomer Cuyahoga County Engineers’ buildings remain
on the site where Bridgeworks would rise. The buildings range
in age from 60-103 years old (Allegro).

But when plans for The Viaduct were being discussed at the Waterfront District Block Club, residents of the 11-story Stonebridge Condominiums complained that they are already facing traffic problems while trying to get out on to West 25th.

McNair called the West 25th-Detroit intersection one Cleveland’s “Most important intersections.” Although its traffic is far less than what it was before Interstate 90 was opened on the West Side in the 1970s, it still sees 14,000 vehicles per day.

He also noted that the intersection is the second-busiest bus stop in the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s system, trailing only downtown’s Public Square. It is at the northern end of a planned bus rapid transit route called 25connects. And, there are multiple hike-bike trails in the area, including a protected bike lane across the Detroit-Superior Bridge into downtown.

“Places that have traffic congestion have a lot of good things going on,” McNair said. “I’m sure there are some people who will worry about traffic congestion. But the people in Northeast Ohio who worry about traffic congestion probably haven’t spent much time outside Northeast Ohio.”

The block club has been working with the city’s Division of Streets to re-examine traffic flow on Washington Avenue, including taking traffic surveys. But the traffic count study was hampered by lower car volume due to the pandemic.

“The issue truly is Washington Avenue,” said Scott Aylesworth, president of the Waterfront District Block Club. “The short one-way section next to St. Malachi has caused untold issues. I think that since the (proposed) tower is mostly residential, the impact on traffic congestion will be nominal. If they can restore the two-way traffic (on Washington) and adjust the light timing, there should be no problems.”

Tyler Kapusta contributed to this article.


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