Cleveland APL sells Tremont land to Knez

Lot split map for Knez Homes and Cleveland APL land in Tremont.

This preliminary plan for a lot split of the Cleveland Animal Protective League property in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood shows approximately how the land is being split. With north to the right, Knez Homes has acquired the southern half of the split property for a potentially significant housing development (SH&A). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM

Knez to develop dozens of homes on large site

The Cleveland Animal Protective League (APL) this week closed on a significant property transaction that sold several acres of previously undeveloped land in Cleveland’s fast-growing Tremont neighborhood. Buying the land was Knez Homes, one of Northeast Ohio’s largest housing developers.

The $550,000 deal means that the Cleveland APL will get a cash infusion to support its charitable efforts while retaining its recently renovated and expanded kennel, veterinary center and offices on a now-smaller piece of land on Willey Avenue. The APL had agreed to sell the land last year to Knez but the terms of the deal weren’t finalized and the sale hadn’t closed until now.

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The Cleveland APL had owned 7.1 acres south of Willey, more than half of it undeveloped. Of that, 3.65 acres were split off and sold to Knez for the potential development of dozens of townhomes, greenspace and a possible connector between West 25th Street and Scranton Avenue.

According to the Reaching Lincoln Heights development masterplan approved by the City Planning Commission two years ago, that connector will either be a roadway or possibly a hiking/biking path to provide a new northernmost link between the two major north-south travel corridors. But that connector and other planning decisions haven’t been made yet, said Bo Knez, founder, president and CEO of Knez Homes.

Lincoln Heights development guide plan for the land that Knez Homes bought.

The Reaching Lincoln Heights Master Plan included this close-up of a development vision for the area that the APL has sold to Knez Homes. It includes land that could remain a publicly accessible greenspace, plus new residential development and an extension of Brevier Avenue to create access between West 25th Street to the west and Scranton Road to the east (Seventh Hill).

“That’s all in play right now,” Knez said. “We’re talking to surrounding land owners including the Treo development. It (our development vision) is in the planning stage. We’re going to adhere to the Lincoln Heights master plan and look for guidance from it. We’ve talked to Tremont (West Development Corp.) and we’ll get public input on our planning.”

He said the planning work would continue through much of the spring and possibly into the summer. Knez said he doubted the planning work would be done before fall. Considering the number of developments Knez is involved in just in the city of the Cleveland, the firm has a pretty full plate. It’s working on multiple housing projects in Ohio City, Cudell, multiple projects in Glenville, infill housing in Fairfax, Little Italy, the lakefront and downtown.

Currently, Knez’s largest development on Cleveland’s West Side is the Bailey Bridge Townhomes (previously called Fulton Row), located on a 2.1-acre former junk yard at Fulton Road and Bailey Avenue. Construction is underway on the 56-unit, $15 million development in Ohio City. The former Cleveland APL property will almost certainly host a larger-scale development.

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The open land at the end of Brevier Avenue in Tremont.

Brevier Avenue dead-ends into Knez Homes’ newly acquired property, which looks like it could be out in the countryside someplace. Instead, it’s a rare, large piece of never-developed land in the heart of the rapidly redeveloping near-West Side. How Brevier may be extended into and possibly through this site to link Scranton Road with West 25th Street remains to be seen (Google).

“The Reaching Lincoln Heights Plan … speaks to the expectation the community has for development in the area,” said Cory Riordan, executive director of the Tremont West Development Corp. in an e-mail to NEOtrans. “We look forward to working with developers to fulfill the promise and potential for the area.”

The Reaching Lincoln Heights master plan was developed by affected block clubs and Tremont West. It shows the property that Knez bought as developed with a small park surrounded by townhouses and a multi-family building, plus Brevier Avenue extended through to West 20th Street, thus providing more direct access to Scranton Road to the east and West 25th Street to the west.

“The (Lincoln Heights) plan calls for a mixture of green space and housing,” Ward 3 Councilman Kerry McCormack said last year when Knez got the nod from Cleveland’s APL for a purchase agreement. “I think it’s a good start. Knez builds a really good for-sale product, so I’m confident that, working with the community, they will come up with something really exciting.”

McCormack did not respond to a request for additional comments last week.

Site of Knez Homes property acquisition as seen from Lamoille Court in Tremont.

This space between these two houses in the 1700 block of Lamoille Court is a strip of land that was sold by the Cleveland Animal Protective League to Knez Homes. It may serve as an access to the vacant land in the background that comprises a bulk of the 3.65 acres Knez purchased for a new housing development (Google).

Cleveland APL President & CEO Sharon Harvey Sharon did not wish to comment publicly about the sale, said Conor Coakley, first vice president at commercial real estate brokerage CBRE. He represented the APL in the transaction.

“The APL talked to a lot of developers last year,” Coakley said. “They chose Knez because they were comfortable with them. Knez has a knowledge of Tremont and they wanted a good neighbor. Bo (Knez) would be a good neighbor.”

According to historical records, the property Knez acquired has never been developed. In the 19th century a man-made pond was here, resulting from a dammed-up swale to provide water to and flush out the Beck Provision Co., a hog slaughterhouse. A 1939 U.S. Geological Survey topographical map shows the pond was already drained by then. Overhead views from HistoricAerials.com show the pond was partially filled in by 1952 and more thoroughly filled in by 1962. The Cleveland APL, a no-kill shelter, is located on the site of the long-gone slaughterhouse.

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