Mid-rise apartment complex planned for Gordon Square

significant mixed-use development is proposed on Detroit Avenue
A significant mixed-use development is proposed on Detroit Avenue
in Cleveland’s Gordon Square neighborhood by a well-funded de-
veloper without a lot of development credits to its name (Dimit).

A proposed major mixed-use development in the Gordon Square area is due to go before City Planning Commission as early as this month. The development, called Waverly & Oak, at 5506 Detroit Ave., is the first major new-construction effort by Cleveland-based Bond Street Group.

But don’t let that kid you into thinking this firm doesn’t have the juice to pull off an ambitious project whose estimated cost would be in the tens of millions of dollars. Consider the principals behind Bond Street Group, incorporated in 2014 — Todd Leebow, Taylor Hawkins and Justin Strizzi.

Leebow is president and CEO of Majestic Steel, a privately owned Bedford Heights manufacturer of flat-rolled steel founded in 1979 with revenues of $520 million in 2019. But he is probably more famous for being a friend of basketball star LeBron James and a passionate Cavs fan.

Hawkins is a senior vice president and principal at Cleveland-based Bellwether Enterprise Real Estate Capital, LLC — a fast-growing commercial financier. Strizzi is director of real estate at Majestic Steel and handles much of the public relations work at Bond Street Group.

Eighteen months of construction could start this summer for the seven-story, 122-unit apartment building over 16,000 square feet of commercial space, including a restaurant, fitness center and co-working facility with memberships available to the public. Below it, an underground parking structure with more than 100 spaces is proposed, according to a project brief made available to NEOtrans.

Birdseye view of the property on which Waverly & Oak
Birdseye view of the property on which Waverly & Oak could
see construction as early as this summer (Bond Street Group).

“The project will include new exterior public space and expansive sidewalks along Detroit Avenue to encourage pedestrian traffic and public gathering,” the brief reads. “The central courtyard may be used for public events such as farmers’ markets and art walks.”

Strizzi said Waverly & Oak is a working name for the project while the developers work on branding during the design process. The name is a play on the naming evolution of West 58th Street — called Waverly Avenue and Oakland Street before the city renamed north-south streets numerically in 1905. The project was previously dubbed the Gordon House.

Because the project’s details are preliminary, some of the designs and features could change based on public input, Strizzi said. The developer’s first significant interaction with the public was a meeting held Feb. 3 via a Zoom video conference with nearby property owners, businesses and other stakeholders. The call was hosted by Ward 15 Councilwoman Jenny Spencer.

In that meeting, several stakeholders raised questions about parking, whether amenities will be accessible to residents and a construction timeline, according to two meeting participants who did not wish to be identified publicly. A couple of people on the call commented positively about the quality of the materials proposed for use in the development.

Strizzi said the project’s Web presence is due to go live at about noon today on the CoUrbanize Web site where members of the community can provide input on the project and ask questions. The site soon will also have information about commercial space availability, residential pre-leasing and memberships. The project’s web address will be waverlyandoak.info.

Conceptual view of the proposed development
Conceptual view of the proposed development, as seen from
the north side from Tilman Avenue. The presence of so many
balconies is to provide residents on the north and east sides
of the complex with downtown and lake views (Dimit).

“This section of Detroit Avenue in Gordon Square is the ideal location to deliver on our vision for residential development,” Strizzi said in an e-mailed statement. “Waverly & Oak residents and members will enjoy incredibly thoughtful design and engineering inside and out, at every detail, and when they walk outside, they’ll have all of the amenities of the neighborhood restaurants, bars, theatres, retail shops “at their doorstep.”

“Our vision is to restore and modernize the dynamic character of Gordon Square, created by a decades-long interweaving of art and industry that has made it the home and workplace of choice for the region’s creatives, and the city’s makers and movers,” added Leebow, Bond Street’s founder.

Leebow is also the founder of Cleveland-based Kind of One Concepts Hospitality Group, which plans to operate a restaurant and rooftop lounge in the new building, according to a written statement from Bond Street.

“Our conversations with the developer of this project are in the early stages,” said Adam Stalder, executive director of the Detroit-Shoreway Community Development Organization. “DSCDO has encouraged them to start engaging the community earlier rather than later. Our goal as a community organization is to make sure that our stakeholders are aware and have a chance to weigh in on that future development.”

Stalder was reluctant to call this project a next step up for Gordon Square which he said implies that new, market-rate, mostly-residential construction is somehow better than existing land uses. But he said it is a natural progression of development along Detroit Avenue.

“With the dense development of Ohio City’s Hingetown, it is only a matter of time until development fills in the gaps between that area and Gordon Square,” Stalder added. “The desirability of the neighborhood and specifically the Gordon Square Arts District is leading to denser and taller buildings. We have seen this already at the Edison (on Father Caruso Drive). However, this is the first proposal along Detroit.”

View of the development site from the corner of Detroit Avenue and West 57th Street
View of the development site from the corner of Detroit Avenue
and West 57th Street, looking easterly along Detroit. The two
buildings at the center of this image are to be razed (KJP).

Two buildings are proposed to be demolished for Waverly & Oak — the Vietnam Market, 5506 Detroit, and the vacant Club Azteca, 5602 Detroit. Bond Street and former Club Azteca stakeholders began conversations in recent months on how the legacy and history of the club may be honored and acknowledged in the new project.

The development site would measure 0.9 acres. All but one of the seven parcels to be acquired for the project are owned by Mayekar Familia, LLC, which in turn owns the Vietnam Market. It is surrounded by parking lots that extend back to Tillman Avenue.

Bond Street Group has a contract to buy this property. The sale price is unknown. It was listed for sale in mid-December for $1.5 million. The Vietnam Market will close; it will not relocate. But the Minh Anh restaurant next door isn’t going anywhere.

The only parcel not owned by Mayekar Familia is occupied by the former Club Azteca. The nonprofit Mexican-American club has been at that site since 1952, according to Cuyahoga County records. Following a tax foreclosure, county records show the 0.106-acre property was acquired by the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corp. on Oct. 21, 2020.

Bond Street’s plans will be reviewed by the neighborhood’s design-review committee as well as by the city’s Landmarks Commission to secure a certificate of appropriateness to demolish the two buildings on the site.

According to the project’s summary, the developer said it is focused on creating an attractive, community-centric mix of uses on the street level, bringing residential density to Detroit Avenue and filling in the “missing teeth” along Detroit created by the current surface parking lots and vacant building that sit on the site.

“Higher buildings are a natural desire for developers in this area to take advantage of the views of the lake and downtown,” Stalder said. “This is the first but I am certain it won’t be the last.”

Tyler Kapusta contributed to this article.


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