Gateway live-work apartments planned, more possible

SomeraRoad's planned Gateway apartments

This basic massing shows the concept of what developer Somera Road would like to build in the 1000-1100 block of Bolivar Road just east of East 9th Street and Progressive Field. Proposed is a four- to five-story apartment building built atop a two-level parking garage with retail fronting Bolivar (Desmone).
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New York City-based real estate firm SomeraRoad is proposing a big addition to several downtown properties it acquired two years ago along Bolivar Road east of East 9th Street and Progressive Field.

According to documents submitted to the city prior to seeking conceptual approval from Cleveland City Planning Commission, SomeraRoad wants to construct a seven-story apartment building with 203 units. The project would consist of a two-level parking garage with ground-floor retail and topped by the new apartments.

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“We are in the conceptual stages of discussing a potential mixed-use development at our property on Bolivar Road with the City of Cleveland,” wrote Andrew Donchez, vice president of development at SomeraRoad, in an e-mail to NEOtrans.

“Given the great location, proximity to the great sports, entertainment and dining options in downtown Cleveland, we believe a high-quality, mixed-use and residential development would be complementary to our renovation of the historic office building at 1020 Bolivar that we recently completed,” he added.

Looking southeast at Gateway apartment with Progressive Field in background

Although these massings make it appear as if the apartment building would be built atop both existing parking garages on Bolivar. Instead, the single-level deck that’s closest in this view would be demolished for a new, two-level garage that’s a bit shorter than the 1971-built garage that will be kept (Desmone).

That office building, the westernmost structure on the site, is a former Ohio Bell Telephone Co. operations building. Later, it was the offices for the Ohio Means Jobs employment agency that moved to 1910 Carnegie Ave. The four-story building, with ground-floor parking, was recently renovated with a modernized lobby, tenant lounge and rooftop deck.

The next two structures east on the property will meet different fates, pending city approvals that include a zoning variance or a change of use as the site is zoned as semi-industry.

Through its Cleveland-based affiliate Core Construction Services, SomeraRoad plans to demolish the easternmost parking garage, a one-level facility built in 1926. It is located in a designated historic district.

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By contrast, the owner intends to retain and refurbish a two-level parking garage built in 1971 located in the middle of the site. It is between the renovated office building and the 1926 garage. On the site of the demolished garage, five stories of apartments will be built above the new parking deck; four stories would rise above the existing garage.

Proposed building section of Gateway apartment building

Cross-section views from the north (Bolivar Road) side and south (Erie Court) that helps better explain how the new apartment building, new parking garage and 1971 garage will fit together in this proposed development (Desmone).

The new, two-level parking structure would have two retail spaces — one 1,267 square feet and the other 1,491 square — a residential lobby and a 1,081-square-foot fitness center. All of those ground-floor uses would face Bolivar.

Vehicular access will be off Bolivar and Erie Court, the street south of the site that’s along the Erie Street Cemetery. The 1971 and new parking structures will also be connected internally so vehicles can travel between them without going outside.

“The goal of the project is to contribute to the ‘live-work-play’ environment of the Gateway District and to activate the street, creating a more vibrant pedestrian experience and support Bolivar Road and Erie Court as a connection between Playhouse Square and the Gateway Stadiums,” according to a project brief supplied by SomeraRoad.

“The design is to respect the existing historic context of the area while introducing materials to support a modern industrial aesthetic,” the developer’s brief continued. More detailed renderings and designs will be provided if the city grants conceptual approval.

The close garage will be demolished with the distant on kept

Existing conditions as seen looking generally west along Bolivar Road, with the 1926-built garage in the foreground, the 1971-built garage just beyond, and the recently renovated, four-story office building barely visible at right (COSTAR).

Above the 1971 garage, a plenum space for air circulation topped by four stories of apartments are proposed to be built. But it won’t be two apartment buildings. It will be a single, continuous building over both parking structures and measure 272,705 square feet. In total, the 1971 garage and the new deck will add 254 vehicle parking spaces and 10 bicycle parking spaces.

To achieve the city’s sustainability goals, the developer notes that the project will reuse an existing parking garage and provide a minimum amount of bicycle parking. It will also offer electric vehicle charging stations, green roof areas with native landscaping, reflective white upper roof, daylighting, operable windows and LED lighting.

“I would be happy to chat and provide more details in the future as we progress with the project,” Donchez said.

The new building will top out at 80 feet tall — high enough so that the upper floors will have views of baseball games at Progressive Field and of downtown’s central business district nearby. But views could increasingly be obstructed in coming years.

Apartments will have an even better view of Progressive Field and Guardians games than this

This view from atop SomeraRoad’s recently renovated office building, the former Ohio Bell operations center, is a low-level example of the kind of views that could be had from the proposed, taller apartment building behind the photographer (COSTAR).

The reason is due to potential development surrounding the planned $435 million renovation of Progressive Field. That renovation may depend on revenue from the creation of a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district around the ballpark to capture the increase values from significant developments within that district, according to a source familiar with the vision.

Three potential groups, one local and two out-of-town, are pursuing a minority ownership stake in the Cleveland Guardians to position themselves at the front of the line to acquire the team whenever the current owner Paul Dolan decides to sell. The source declined to identify the three groups.

Major League Baseball and all three potential ownership groups are heavily pushing the proposed TIF district for development, replicating the ballpark villages in Atlanta, Boston, San Diego, Washington DC and St. Louis.

Potential development sites include nuCLEus, the Caxton Building parking lot, the parking lot south of the garage City Club Apartments will use for residents’ parking, Carnegie-East 9th and East 9th-Bolivar. The last site was put on the market last month by Geis Companies which is apparently hoping to catch this rising tide.

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