University Heights OKs 30-unit townhouse development

South Taylor Place featuring 30 townhomes

South Taylor Place, featuring 30 townhomes, many with rooftop
decks offering views of University Circle and Downtown Cleve-
land, are on a course to see construction start as early as this July
north of the Cedar-Taylor District in University Heights (Sixmo).
CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM

As part of University Heights’ initiative to increase the city’s population through housing investment, the northwest corner of the city will soon gain a new 30-unit townhouse development. The project, called South Taylor Place, should see construction start in July following the April 15 approval by the city’s Architectural Review Board.

Knez Homes will build the market-rate townhouses on 0.7 acres the firm acquired just north of Cedar Road. Knez, one of Northeast Ohio’s largest homebuilders, purchased the land in March from the University Heights City Beautiful Corp. for $7,000, according to county records.

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The city-chartered community improvement corporation (CIC) was founded in 2018 for the “purpose of advancing, encouraging and promoting the industrial, economic, commercial and civic development of the City of University Heights,” according to its Web site.

Also, the University Heights City Beautiful Corp. is charged with implementing the city’s development master plan. Governing the corporation is a board of directors made up of city elected and appointed officials and a resident of University Heights. The board includes Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan who led the initiative after his election in 2017.

Location of South Taylor Place in
relation to the Cedar-Taylor District

Location of South Taylor Place in
relation to the Cedar-Taylor District
in University Heights (Google).

“The city has to go through a competitive bidding process but when you have a CIC you can pick and choose who you want to work with,” Brennan said. “I saw Knez developments in Ohio City and Tremont and wanted to see what they could do here. Knez makes a quality home and we wanted the best.”

Construction of the new housing will help address a shortage of available, for-sale homes in Greater Cleveland and especially in the Heights area, near fast-growing University Circle. In fact, being just three miles from University Circle is one of the reasons why Knez sought to develop this property.

“The proximity of that land to everything is pretty incredible,” said Bo Knez, President/CEO and founder of Knez Homes. “It’s real close to all of the amenities in the Heights.”

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“We’re trying to diversify the housing offerings in University Heights,” Brennan added. “There’s a lot of demand for housing in our community. One of the things I love about this city is you’re 10 minutes away from the medical and institutional centers of University Circle.”

Site plan for South Taylor Place

Site plan for South Taylor Place (Sixmo).

The immediate area has a mix of greenspace and a walkable commercial district. The townhouse development will have a pocket park, walkway and pet area on its north side, set on land just over the city limits in Cleveland Heights.

That strip of greenspace will be added above newly rebuilt gas and sewer infrastructure along another greenspace for the neighboring Deborah S. Delisle Educational Options Center. That facility is part of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District.

Courtyard in the planned South Taylor Place development

Courtyard in the planned South Taylor Place development (Sixmo).

Knez says that construction on the townhouses should be complete by this time next year. South Taylor Place represents an investment of about $12 million by Knez Homes in the community.

Each townhouse will measure about 3,000 square feet, including a two-car attached garage. Townhouses will have 15 years of tax abatement and be fee-simple, in other words, no condominiums. List prices are expected to be in the mid-300s, Knez said.

The tax abatement doesn’t apply to land, the property is now in private hands and the land will be developed. Thus, Brennan expects it to generate $20,000 in property taxes per year to the school district. And if it falls short, the city will make up the difference with income taxes generated by residents living in the new townhomes.

“The ARB (Architectural Review Board) was the last step before a building permit can be issued,” Knez added. “There’s still some minor tweaks to be done but we’ll be pretty much ready to go in 90 days.”

Westward view of South Taylor Place

Westward view of South Taylor Place from the intersection of
Wynn Road and Washington Boulevard (Sixmo).

As part of development agreements approved by the University Heights City Beautiful Corp., Knez is also adding “in-fill” homes on a handful of vacant parcels throughout the city. These are mostly mature neighborhoods, filled with single-family homes that were built 60-100 years ago.

Some older homes that weren’t well maintained or suffered fire damage got demolished. Nothing replaced them, leaving a few “missing teeth” along neighborhood streets. Over the past decade, University Heights’ population has dipped by about 500 residents to 13,000, Census estimates show.

“This (South Taylor Place townhomes) and the in-fill of vacant, unused parcels with single-family homes is part of the mayor’s progressive plan to add residents,” Knez said.

“One of things I did when I became mayor was to not leave opportunities on the table,” Brennan said. “The previous administration shied away from infill (housing) but I’ve embraced it. The city government took the view that development happened to it rather than embracing it. We haven’t had a major housing development since the 1970s.”

South Taylor Place will add more pedestrian activity to the Cedar
Taylor District

South Taylor Place will add more pedestrian activity to the Cedar-
Taylor District which features many restaurants, shops and other
businesses, some of which are seen along the bottom of this
eastward-looking view from South Taylor Road (Sixmo).

Most of the property on which South Taylor Place is planned was previously the home of the congregation Oer Chodosh Anshe Sfard, an Orthodox Jewish synagogue founded in 1894 in Cleveland by a group of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants. The synagogue was demolished shortly before the land was transferred to the city in 1999, county records show.

Other properties around the Cedar-Taylor District are finding new uses. Among those is the long-closed KFC restaurant, 2115 S. Taylor, which the city declared as a blight and threatened to demolish at the owner’s expense.

That property was acquired in December 2019 by Taylor Raymont LLC, part of the family of companies founded by Donna Cheung Hom who passed away in January. The Hom family continues to develop, own and operate Chinese restaurants including Ho Wah in Beachwood, King Wah in Rocky River plus Li Wah and Asia Plaza in Cleveland’s Asiatown neighborhood.

Brennan also said there is a buyer for the closed Midas car repair shop, 13483 Cedar, but he could not reveal it yet. He said the new user will not operate it as a car servicing business but the buyer intends to use the 0.46 acres of land as it is currently zoned, which is a local retail district.

END