A proposed 13-story residential tower overlooking Lake Erie and Edgewater Park won additional city approvals today and moved closer to construction (EAO). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.
Board of Zoning Appeals OKs variances
One of the most important remaining hurdles for a proposed high-rise apartment building overlooking Edgewater Park was finally cleared after multiple postponements. But today, Cleveland’s Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) unanimously approved four variances to the city’s zoning code necessary to build the project on a parking lot at the north end of West 78th Street. Today’s action puts the project a big step closer to construction.
After NEOtrans broke the story on the project in April 2022, Cleveland-based J Roc Development increased the height of its proposed Shoreway Tower from 10 stories to 12 and now to 13. The developer also made other design changes to its project in order to secure more support from the neighborhood and the city. Now J Roc and its architect Evident Architecture Office (EAO) of Portland, OR will add more design details and submit the plans to the City Planning Commission’s Design-Review Committee in the coming weeks.
BZA approved a variance from the site’s 115-foot height limitation so the 13-story building — nine stories of apartments over four levels of structured parking — could be built 143 feet high. Although the Landmarks Commission in November supported a 138-foot proposed height for a 12-story market-rate apartment building, Adam Comer, sales and development manager at J Roc, said the additional story wouldn’t change the height of the building.
Originally, J Roc planned a 10-story, 112-foot-tall building. But after a century-old sewer line was discovered through the site, Comer said the added cost of rerouting the sewer plus rising construction costs prompted the developer to increase the number of apartments from 73 units to 95. Also the building was narrowed and then sloped outward at the bottom to spread the building’s weight over a larger area because soils wouldn’t otherwise be able to support the building, said William Neburka, EAO’s founding principal. Prior actions by city panels reviewed the project’s design and appropriateness for the surrounding area.
A conceptual rendering of the proposed Shoreway Tower next to the existing, four-story Shoreway Apartments on West 76th Street. A new concept for the project has a nine-story apartment building over a new four-story garage. The garage would replace an existing, sheltered parking area and provide a rooftop amenity deck (EAO).
“Part of the review of the project was the scale of the project,” Neburka said. “We are emulating the scale of the Westinghouse complex and using it as a guiding principle for the project which is an historic warehouse complex that mixes more vertical and horizontal buildings.”
The new 204,400-square-foot high-rise would be an addition to the 73,000-square-foot, 45-unit The Shoreway Apartments, 1200 W. 76th St. The Shoreway Apartments were originally built in 1918 as the Globe Machine and Stamping Co. J Roc redeveloped them in 2014 using historic tax credits. Next to the property is a pedestrian underpass that links West 76th to Edgewater Park, below the busy Norfolk Southern railroad and Edgewater Parkway, formerly the West Shoreway.
The other three variances included having a rear yard that’s half the height of a residential building, allowing a building with a maximum floor area that’s just one-half of the lot area, and getting Landmarks Commission support for the project first. The Landmarks Commission request was met. BZA members said the rear yard requirement didn’t make sense for a multi-family building and the developer said development of the lot couldn’t be afforded unless they had enough density. BZA members concurred.
“City planning is very supportive of this project,” said Adam Davenport, a city planner for the Gordon Square area. “The site is pretty well isolated in a lot of respects … at the end of West 78th. What better spot in the neighborhood than staring at the lake and downtown in the east to put a high-rise residential structure?”
How the Shoreway Tower apartments would look from the West Shoreway, now Edgewater Boulevard. City officials said the former industrial area to the right, or west of the new tower is becoming a site for additional residential development. At least one additional residential project, 8400 Lake, is planned for that industrial area (EAO).
Several West 76th residents spoke at today’s BZA hearing in opposition to the requested variances. Some of their concerns had already been addressed by the developer, including traffic and a loading area on West 76th. The vehicular access and loading were moved to West 78th with a four-way stop to be added at West 76th and Battery Park Boulevard for the existing Shoreway Apartments. The residents also said they feared the new tower would set a precedent for more lakefront high-rises, including on additional parcels owned by J Roc nearby.
“I don’t agree we are setting a precedent,” Neburka said. “Each project will be reviewed individually.”
While Davenport agreed each project would be reviewed individually, he also said the aging industrial area to the west of West 76th and north of Lake Avenue was an appropriate location for conversion to more residential uses. He cited the development of 8400 Lake where two small light-industrial/warehouse buildings were demolished in December for a seven-story, 170-unit apartment building over parking and a dozen townhomes fronting Lake.
“This (Shoreway Tower) is very much akin to some of the other development proposals we’ll see for the old industrial area north of Lake Avenue,” Davenport said. “I suspect over time we’re going to see more of these proposals for the legacy industrial area north of 78th Street Studios.”