Ohio City apartment project gets ‘The Vibe’

The Vibe’s development site in the Hingetown section of Ohio City in Cleveland is the former Cleveland Vibrator plant. It is outlined in red, with the potential footprints of two future apartment buildings marked by yellow boxes. North is at the top of the image. Clinton Avenue is across the bottom of the image, with West 29th Street at left and West 28th Street at right (Google). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.

Development site is one of Ohio City’s largest

Things are starting to come together for new construction on one of Ohio City’s largest development sites. A new developer is at the ready. A project architect was selected and a firm that typically provides construction general contracting has been added to guide the development’s design. The developer even has a name of the development and some basic, preliminary design concepts regarding scale. But what isn’t yet known for certain is the programming for the project and if it will include a ground-floor commercial use, like a restaurant.

To be called The Vibe, in reference to the site’s historical use by industrial equipment manufacturer Cleveland Vibrator Co., the nearly 2-acre site in Ohio City’s booming Hingetown community will be developed by a new, well-heeled local firm called TurnDev. Led by a number of Cleveland-based real estate movers and shakers including Kohrman Jackson & Krantz LLP (KJK) Managing Partner Jon Pinney, TurnDev took over ownership of the site in what appears to be an entity sale rather than a property sale.

Last March, Pinney confirmed his group would be acquiring the property. The prior owner was Joe Kubic, CEO of the downtown-based advertising firm The AdCom Group who was backed by Chagrin Falls-based developer, the Snavely Group, which built several residential-over-retail buildings along Detroit Avenue between West 25th and 28th streets. Those buildings leased out quickly, as did the two-building, five- and 11-story Church+State development led by M Panzica Development and Grammar Properties. Panzica and Grammar are trying to build the 15-story Bridgeworks project nearby.

“We are still gathering community input on the project,” Pinney said in an e-mail to NEOtrans. “Cleveland Construction has been retained for design assist services at this stage. Vocon has been retained as the architect. We plan to meet with neighborhood advocates and nearby property owners to gather input.”

Property map of the Hingetown section of Ohio City showing the location of the Cleveland Vibrator site in relation to nearby buildings and other development sites (myplace.cuyahogacounty.us).

At this early stage the development team has produced only preliminary massings — design concepts comprised of largely featureless blocks to convey structural scale and orientations — to get input. Two apartment buildings on the site are being considered. A five- to six-story building could rise at the southwest corner of Church Avenue and West 28th Street. A three- to four-story building may be built at the northeast corner of Clinton Avenue and West 29th Street. Both could be connected by an underground parking garage topped by a mid-block, street-level courtyard, according to a development source who asked not to be identified publicly and declined to share the massings with NEOtrans.

The source said the team would like to start construction about one year from now. Shawn Zbasnik, director of marketing for Mentor-based Cleveland Construction referred any questions about the project to Pinney. George Shea, CEO of Shea Communications LLC which handles media relations for Vocon, said he “Will reach out and respond” with information from his client but has yet to follow-up. Tom McNair, executive director of Ohio City Inc., did not respond to an e-mail and a voicemail from NEOtrans seeking comment and more information.

Also, Brent Zimmerman, CEO and co-founder of Saucy Brew Works, did not reply to an e-mail last week from NEOtrans and, for a previous story, had replied “no comment” to rumors that Saucy could retain a beer garden plus volleyball and cornhole games in the new development’s courtyard. The brewpub and pizza chain, whose first location is across Church at 2885 Detroit Ave., leases the former Cleveland Vibrator building and property for its Vibe Garden which is open in the spring, summer and fall.

The 14-parcel site is zoned as local retail which allows allows for business uses that are normally required for the daily local retail business needs of nearby residents only, such as neighborhood-scale stores and restaurants. It also permits offices and services such as barber/beauty shops, laundries and other small businesses that do not need more than five people working there at the same time. Residential is allowed as an accessory use. Maximum height for a building on this block is 60 feet — about five or six stories. North of Church the height district limit rises to 115 feet.

Seen through the trees of this lot at 2828 Clinton Ave. in Cleveland’s Ohio City is the name of the historical user of this site — manufacturer Cleveland Vibrator. Shortly after this photo was taken in 2019, Cleveland Vibrator left. The following year, it became Saucy Brew Works Vibe Garden. This view is from the southwest corner of Church Avenue and West 28th Street (Google).

In 2019, Kubic, through an affiliate 2828 Clinton Avenue LLC, acquired the Cleveland Vibrator property for $3 million, according to Cuyahoga County records. The now-century-old Cleveland Vibrator moved that year to 4544 Hinckley Industrial Parkway, also located in the city of Cleveland. No deed transfers for that site have been recorded by the county since 2019.

On Oct. 22, 2022, Pinney filed documents with the Ohio Secretary of State’s office naming KJK Partner Steven Bersticker as its new statutory agent and property tax mailings for the site are now being mailed to TurnDev’s offices on Park East Drive in Beachwood. Those public records and Pinney’s earlier comments to NEOtrans point to the sale of Kubik’s 2828 Clinton Avenue LLC to TurnDev. Such entity sales often have better legal and tax benefits compared to property transfers.

TurnDev has been very aggressive and bold for a new-start development firm. It has acquired more than 650,000 square feet of properties scattered throughout the Superior Arts District on the east side of downtown. Among its purchases in that district was the ArtCraft Building which the city of Cleveland will redevelop for its new police headquarters. Earlier this month, TurnDev purchased the 3.4-acre Premium Metals property, 5901-6001 Breakwater Avenue in the Gordon Square neighborhood for a potential residential development.


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