Bridgeworks design to be re-refined

Demolition of the stone-built county garage designed in the Art Deco style was rejected by the city.

This stone-built garage at the west end of the Detroit-Superior Bridge in Cleveland’s Ohio City is proposed to be demolished to make way for a 15-story mixed-use high-rise building here. But demolition plans for the Bridgeworks tower were denied and its developers advised to incorporate features from the Art Deco-designed garage into the plan (Google). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM

Ohio City urges high-rise to include Art Deco garage

Development team members of a proposed high rise in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood are going back to the drawing board again. While this redesign may be less significant than the last one, done to bring Bridgeworks’ costs in line with available financing, its impact on the residential-hotel-retail project’s $60+ million budget is not yet known.

This redesign was prompted by the Ohio City Design-Review Committee which was asked by the development partnership Bridgeworks LLC to support the demolition of an Art-Deco-styled, stone garage built in 1941 for the Cuyahoga County Engineer’s department. Instead, the design review panel told the partnership, lead by M Panzica Development and Grammar Properties, that if it wants to raze the garage it needed to incorporate materials or design elements from the garage into the new high-rise.

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Bridgeworks LLC was scheduled to have its demolition request heard by the city’s Landmarks Commission yesterday but asked that the hearing be postponed until May 12. That could give the development team time to redesign their submission. The project’s architects are MASS Design Group of Boston and LDA architects Inc. of Cleveland.

Past and present plans for the Bridgeworks development in the Hingetown section of Ohio City.

Bridgeworks’ plan was changed to reduce costs after it failed to win a large tax credit in early March. The older plan is at left which would have retained the historic garage (seen above the word “Detroit”). The revised plan at right would remove it (Mass/LDA).

“They (development team members) are responding to some feedback from the local review committee,” said Ohio City Inc. Executive Director Tom McNair. The Ohio City Design-Review Committee tabled the developer’s demolition application April 7. Its next meeting on April 21 may be too soon for a new conceptual design to be drafted. The committee could review Bridgeworks’ revised design at its May 5 meeting.

Graham Veysey, co-founder of Grammar Properties with his wife Marika Shioiri-Clark, said they’re “Just continuing to refine the design” of Bridgeworks. Development team partner Michael Panzica did not respond to NEOtrans’ request for comment prior to publication of this article.

In June 2021, Bridgeworks LLC acquired the former Cuyahoga County Engineer’s property at 2429 Superior Viaduct as it was considered surplus by the county. The developers took title to the 2.5 acres of land, easements and on-site structures, paying the county $4.15 million, public records show. Only about 1.6 acres of the site is developable.

Another view of the Art Deco, stone-built county Engineer's garage plus the Engineer's office/lab in the background.

Seen from the Superior Viaduct side, the former Cuyahoga County Engineer’s 1941-built Art Deco garage is seen here. The developer received city permission to demolish the three-story office/laboratory building at far-left but not the garage (Google).

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The 15-story high-rise is proposed to have two ground-level retail spaces, a cafe plus hotel and residential lobbies. Above them will be 140 market-rate apartments on floors two through 10, an 11th-floor restaurant with outdoor patio, and 130 hotel rooms on floors 12-15. The brand of the hotelier hasn’t been publicly released.

A source familiar with the project but asked to not be named said the refined design will either re-use materials from the old garage in the new development, replicate Art Deco design elements from the county garage in the high rise, or pursue a combination. Since the last design was done with the intention of bringing construction costs in line with available financing, the architect’s challenge will be to ensure that whatever is planned doesn’t break an already tight budget.

Already, the project has fallen behind the developer’s goal of demolishing by the end of this month the county Engineer’s 57-year-old, three-story, 22,395-square-foot laboratory/office building and the single-level 13,649-square-foot Engineers’ garage. Demolition of the lab/office building was approved for demolition by the city last August.

Current uses on the Bridgeworks site and what the developer intends to do with them.

Bridgeworks’ most-recent plan for on-site structures would demolish everything except the 1917-built entrance to the former streetcar subway station that was on the lower level of the Detroit-Superior Bridge (Mass/LDA).

The site has already been cordoned off with construction fencing, apparently in the hopes the city would approve the demolition request. The source said the development team is eager to get started on the project and had hoped in March to start construction as early as next month. But the design-review committee tabling the demolition request has changed that.

Despite the major redesign done two months ago to save money, any delays will negatively affect the project. Since last fall, the cost of construction materials rose as much as 10 percent and many construction firms aren’t guaranteeing materials prices for more than six months. On a $60 million project, inflation since autumn could have caused Bridgeworks’ development costs to rise by as much as $6 million. Bridgeworks’ developers missed out on a $7,944,817.92 Transformational Mixed Use Development (TMUD) tax credit on March 2.

In response to not winning the TMUD credit, the Bridgeworks tower was redesigned from a 186-foot-tall, 16-story building to a 162-foot-tall, 15-story building that will have the same number of apartments, hotel rooms and square footage but in a slightly wider structure. The pre-March design also would have kept the Engineer’s garage, although its stone fa├žade materials would have been moved off-site, stored, repaired and brought back toward the later stages of construction of the overhead tower.

Rendering of the Bridgeworks tower following its value-engineering into a less-costly project.

This is the most recent plan for Bridgeworks, a 15-story building with retail, cafe and lobbies on the ground floor, 140 apartments on floors two-10, an 11th-floor restaurant and 130 hotel rooms on floors 12-15 (Mass/LDA).

Repurposing the historic stone materials would be a time-consuming, laborious, expensive process which is why the garage was to be demolished in the cost-saving plan, the source said. So far, the development team has rejected consideration of applying for historic tax credits to aid in the renovation of any of the Engineer’s former buildings.

That includes a former station entrance to the streetcar subway that existed on the lower level of the adjacent Detroit-Superior bridge. The station entrance, dubbed the “historic ticket booth” in Bridgeworks’ plans, is being retained by the developers for an unidentified future use in the Bridgeworks project.

The recent redesign of the project also has a reworked parking garage with about 180 spaces. The parking structure, which was to be built partially below the tower, will be simplified and adjusted eastward, out from underneath the high-rise. Now it is proposed to be built up against the historic BoxCast building, 2401 Superior Viaduct, owned by real estate broker Terry Coyne. He confirmed he is in talks with Bridgeworks’ developers about securing daytime parking at the proposed garage. That could add to revenue for Bridgeworks and help offset construction costs.

Site plan for Bridgeworks at West 25th, Detroit-Superior and Superior Viaduct.

Current site plan for Bridgeworks showing ground-floor uses on the 1.6-acre building site, bounded by West 25th Street at left, the Detroit-Superior Bridge at the bottom and Superior Viaduct across the top, or north, side of the image (Mass/LDA).

Developers are trying to get projects underway before other costs rise. One is the cost of money itself — the Federal Reserve Bank is likely to raise interest rates higher to rein in inflation. And, in Cleveland, projects like Bridgeworks are eligible for residential tax abatements — a policy that is up for renewal this year. It isn’t known if the tax abatement program will be renewed or in what form.

Bridgeworks’ developers want to get this high-rise building in the booming Hingetown section of Ohio City under construction at least a year before another one farther south on West 25th starts. That second high rise is the next phase of development by Harbor Bay Realty Advisors at its Market Square site at West 25th and Lorain Avenue. Proposed is a potential 16-story building that will likely be seeking a TMUD credit to offset its development costs.

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