New Hough housing seeks affordability

League Park in Cleveland's Hough neighborhood

Located across the street from historic League Park where Major League baseball and college football games were played from 1891-1949 could soon be a 104-unit housing development called Allen Estates featuring apartments and townhouses, plus four retail/restaurant spaces for lease (CPC). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM

Workforce housing to offer pricing options

As market-rate housing developments continue to be built in Hough, this east-side Cleveland neighborhood is facing a challenge it hasn’t had to deal with for a century — remaining affordable. To that end, two new developments are moving forward to offer up to 160 workforce housing units plus a few retailers/restaurants that will offer services to those new residents. Those would add to hundreds more housing units that were recently completed, are under construction or planned in response to strong job growth in and near University Circle.

While Allen Estates by League Park may end up being bigger, the project that’s farther along is Gordon Crossing, located on East 101st Street between Woodward and Newton avenues. Because it is in the Newton Avenue Historic District, the Cleveland Landmarks Commission has jurisdiction to review and guide designs for this development. The $12.2 million development was up for a conceptual review by the commission Jan. 26, meaning no vote would be taken. Late last year, the Euclid Corridor Design Review Committee also reviewed the conceptual plans and was generally supportive.

“This is a 46-unit workforce housing development,” said Jonathan McKay, vice president of development at Columbus-based Woda Cooper Companies, Inc., the project’s developer. “All of the financing has been secured. It was secured through the Ohio Housing Finance Agency. It’s a 9-percent Low Income Housing Tax Credit deal. We’ll be offering 34 two-bedroom units and 12 three-bedroom units. One of the things we heard in going through the design-review process was the placement of the building. It was a major feedback item and a critical path item that we needed to address. What we tried to do when we were putting this together was to try to model some of the existing multi-tenant residential buildings in the area.”

Planning Gordon Crossing apartments on East 101st Street, between Newton and Woodward avenues.

View of the southeast corner of the proposed Gordon Crossing workforce apartments at East 101st Street and Newton Avenue. This design shows the building after it was digitally turned 90 degrees on site to face East 101st (PCI).

Architects raised the building’s height from three to four stories and turned it 90 degrees on the site to face East 101st so it could move away from the backyards of historic homes on the north side of Newton. Previously, the longer building was set back behind a parking lot on Woodward. Instead, the 46-space parking lot will be placed between the new apartment building and Newton’s homes. After more design reviews from the city, the new building will be moved even closer to East 101st to accommodate a proposed driveway to a planned garage for the easternmost house on Newton. That will require a variance for a setback that’s less than what the city’s building code allows.

Access to and from Gordon Crossing’s parking lo will be via Woodward where the Park Lamont apartments and townhouses are under construction. However, a secondary access from the parking lot will be to Newton. It is an egress-only driveway and Newton is one-way out to East 101st, meaning that traffic will not go past the historic homes along Newton. That was a concern for the Cleveland Restoration Society which owns eight homes on that street. There was also interest in making landscaping and building design at the intersection of East 101st and Newton more attractive.

“The design of the south fa├žade along Newton leaves a little something to be desired,” said Daniel Musson, secretary of the Cleveland Landmarks Commission. “I feel like it needs a little more consideration but the scale seems appropriate for East 101st Street given the scale of some of the existing buildings and what was originally on this site. We would really love to see those two small parcels to the northeast of the project be incorporated somehow. I understand the developer has made attempts to contact the owner (UCAA Limited of Boca Raton, FL). But if there’s anything the city could do, particularly the housing development office to assist in that discussion it could really improve the project (and) give it some more flexibility in the site.”

A first phase Allen Estates site plan in Cleveland's Hough neighborhood

Rezoning is necessary to allow this and other components of the Allen Estates at League Park development to happen. This 38-unit workforce apartment building plus seven townhouses just north of it are planned at the northwest corner of East 66th Street and Linwood Avenue (PCI).

Farther west in Hough, and immediately north of League Park, there are plans for building up to 300 housing units on nearly five acres of land on both sides of East 66th Street. The first component of that vision by Cleveland-based Frontline Development Group LLC is for a 38-unit apartment building, evenly split among one- and two-bedroom units, and seven three-bedroom townhomes, all priced to attract nurses, teachers, laborers and other workers from nearby University Circle and elsewhere. To do that, Frontline, in a partnership with Woda Cooper, is seeking a 9-percent Low Income Housing Tax Credit from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency to finance this first building, estimated to cost $13 million to build.

“It (the development) aligns to the investment that is happening on East 66th,” said Sheila Wright, president and managing partner of Frontline. “It is also going to be able to give us the opportunity to make sure there are people of various incomes that are going to be able to capitalize off of this.”

“While Hough is experiencing incredible growth, it is critical to ensure that both new and existing residents can access high-quality housing opportunities at a variety of price points,” wrote Ward 7 Councilwoman Stephanie Howse in a Jan. 6 letter to the City Planning Commission. “This project solves for workforce housing specific to this neighborhood while also maximizing the use of underutilized parcels in the neighborhood.”

The next component for the first phase of Allen Estates' site plan in Cleveland's Hough neighborhood

For Frontline’s next component of Allen Estates, located on the east side of East 66th, ground-level uses are shown here, including townhouses and retail spaces. The latter would be on the first floor of multi-family building, potentially offering up to 56 apartments (RDL).

Wright said Frontline plans a second component on the east side of East 66th, north of Linwood, with eight townhomes plus five retail/restaurant spaces on the ground floor of a 56-unit apartment building. To help finance that portion, Frontline is seeking a 4-percent Low Income Housing Tax Credit and has additional partners and tenants lined up including University Hospitals for a neighborhood clinic. Both components on either side of East 66th have yet to go through the design-review process and City Council still has to approve the rezoning. But the City Planning Commission on Jan. 20 unanimously recommended that City Council pass it.

The current zoning be will be changed to a multi-family classification that will allow this development. Additionally, the current building height limit of 35 feet will need to be raised to the next level up in the code — 60 feet — even though the four-story building on the west side of East 66th will not come close to that. It will have 35 parking spaces for the 38-unit building. The mixed-use building on the east side of East 66th will also likely exceed the current 35-foot limit although its design work is farther behind.

“This proposed development will significantly enhance the Hough neighborhood and the Ward 7 community,” Howse added. “This development is strategically located across from League Park which is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places. League Park originally opened in 1891 and is a crucial part of the history of Cleveland. The site includes the Baseball Heritage Museum as well as the Fannie M. Lewis Community Park. This approximately $13 million investment will pay homage to a vital historical landmark in the city of Cleveland and act as a catalyst for further investment in the neighborhood.”

Xavier Bay, city planner for the Hough and Glenville neighborhoods, said the rezoning will allow the Allen Estates development to be built as proposed. The rezoning will promote a variety of housing typologies, be in alignment with the city’s East 66th neighborhood plan, and be a part of a larger rezoning to make East 66th the north-south corridor in the Hough neighborhood. Bay also noted that the rezoning will be in alignment with form-based zoning code regulations that the city intends to apply citywide to simplify the development process and promote more walkable neighborhoods with mixed-use density.

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