Looking eastward along the Shoreway from Edgewater Park, the proposed 12-story-tall Shoreway Tower would overlook the park and provide views of Lake Erie. But a city design review panel had strong reservations about the building’s proposed height (EAO). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM
Landmarks Commission approves taller design
ARTICLE UPDATED NOVEMBER 10, 2022
A conceptual proposal for a residential tower along the West Shoreway, overlooking Edgewater Park, got a little bit taller after it was first introduced to Cleveland’s City Planning Commission last April. Originally proposed to be 10 stories tall, the market-rate apartment building got bumped up to 12 stories and 138 feet tall which puts it over the 115-foot height restriction for that area’s zoning. The 12-story project was approved by the Landmarks Commission by a 7-1 vote on Nov. 10. Detailed design will now go to the city’s Design Review Committee and variance requests for the building’s height and setbacks will go to the Board of Zoning Appeals.
The project’s builder, Cleveland-based J Roc Development, is requesting a variance from the city to exceed the height limit after getting input from the city’s neighborhood-level design review committee last May. In that meeting, committee members said the wider but shorter, 10-story building was too close to the four-story The Shoreway Apartments owned by J Roc Development. That previous plan had the tower at 112 feet tall, just barely fitting under the zoning ceiling.
Now, the 118,789-square-foot tower is proposed as a 95-apartment addition to the 73,000-square-foot, 45-unit The Shoreway Apartments, 1200 W. 76th St. The developer says the existing apartments are market-rate and fully leased. Next to the property is a pedestrian underpass which links West 76th to Edgewater Park, below the busy Norfolk Southern railroad and Shoreway, now called Edgewater Parkway.
Adam Comer, sales and development manager at J Roc, said the number of apartments in the tower addition was increased from 73 to 95 units after a century-old sewer line was discovered through the site. The sewer will need to be rerouted for the tower to be constructed. He and a representative of the project’s design firm, Evident Architectural Office of Portland, OR, informed the Gordon Square-Clifton West Design Review Committee at its Oct. 26 meeting that the increased density was necessary to generate enough revenues to afford the unexpected costs of relocating the sewer.
Overhead views of the existing Shoreway Apartments and its 12-story addition. The project would require demolishing an enclosed parking area and replacing it with a new parking garage that extends under the new tower. The top of the steel-and-glass tower has an unfinished look to make the structure appear less imposing (EAO).
“(This) development looks to density for the site to get the project going,” said William Neburka, EAO’s founding principal, according to the committee’s meeting minutes. “They (J Roc) want to create an iconic project for the right reasons; create urban composition with the Shoreway building and have consistency in the neighborhood.”
While the committee voted 2-1 to recommend that the Landmarks Commission approve the project at its Nov. 10 meeting, it did so with “strong reservations or opposition to the height of the proposed building.” Specifically, as one of the conditions of approval, the committee urged that the “overall scale of the building be studied to reduce the overall height of the building.”
Committee member Jeff Blazek said that the scale of Shoreway Tower seemed “overpowering and not compatible” with the existing four- and five-story buildings in the Battery Park area to the east of The Shoreway Apartments. He added that he was “disheartened over the continued overwhelming scale along with immediate context” of the project, the Oct. 26 minutes showed. Blazek voted against the project while Eric Fabian and Krysta Pesarchick vote to support it, with conditions.
Looking west from the existing Shoreway Apartments, which continue to the left, the railroad tracks and Edgewater Parkway are at right with the new tower overlooking them. An amenity deck is seen atop the development’s new parking garage (EAO).
But the development team responded that the tower is to the west of the Battery Park area, in an industrial district that is transitioning to residential uses with mid- and high-rise buildings. Demolition may start any day now for a seven-story, 170-unit apartment building at 8400 Lake, fronted by 13 townhomes being developed by Property Advisors Group and Knez Homes. City planners have introduced a Form Based Zoning Code pilot in this area that could boost additional redevelopment from industrial to residential.
The costs of site clean up and preparation may warrant additional vertical developments here to offset those costs. Indeed, at least one industrial firm west of Battery Park and north of Lake Avenue apparently sees the writing on the wall and is reportedly looking to move out, according to a real estate source. The source did not identify which business is considering relocating.
Furthermore, the development team said their proposed building is only two feet taller than the eight-story, 136-foot-tall former Westinghouse building to the east of Battery Park. That site is being prepared for a major redevelopment with apartments, boutique hotel and ground-floor restaurant. Work now underway includes interior demolition and the razing of an adjacent, low-level structure. And, in the midst of Battery Park is the Villa Mercede Apartments, a 10-story building for low-income elderly and disabled residents at 1331 W. 70th St., the team noted.
This new courtyard would be built in between the existing Shoreway Apartments at left, the new tower to the west and a parking deck at right (EAO).
Committee members liked the development team’s creation of a courtyard for residents amid the existing apartment building, the proposed tower and a three-level parking deck that would extend into the lower levels of the new tower. Atop that parking garage would be an amenity deck overlooking the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks, Shoreway and Edgewater Park. Vehicular access to the garage would be via West 78th Street, plans show.
However, committee members had mixed reviews of the tower’s glass-and-steel design. One said the top of the building appeared to be unfinished while another said it looked like a ruin. They suggested adding some horizontal feature to “lock in” the top of the tower. The developer and architect will have to return to the committee for approval of landscaping, lighting and signage.
The Shoreway Apartments was originally built in 1918 as the Globe Machine and Stamping Co. Its last commercial use was as a warehouse for Pat Catan’s Craft Centers. Nick Catanzarite, a lawyer in the real estate unit of Walter Haverfield LLP, and whose family owned the chain of Pat Catan’s stores since 1954, was instrumental is leading the redevelopment of the warehouse into apartments in 2014. He remains involved in the expansion of the project today.
The metal cladding on the tower is proposed to slope outward toward the bottom of the residential portion to meet the wider parking deck below it. Within that sloping metal exterior will be balconies for residential units facing north and east toward Edgewater Park (EAO).