The size of the former National Tire & Battery site is best appreciated from the east side of the building. The entire structure is about to be demolished. In place of the NTB building, a temporary parking lot is proposed until the property owner can move forward with plans to build a multi-story apartment building that includes a parking garage on the entire site seen here (KJP). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM
Studio West 117 site gets ready for building
Fences went up yesterday at Lakewood’s East End around a former National Tire & Battery (NTB) store and its parking lot at the southwest corner of Detroit and Coutant avenues. In the coming days, the NTB store will come down while hydraulic lifts in the building’s vehicle repair shop will be removed and possibly some of the soil surrounding the lifts, too. Those are just some of the activities that will prepare the site for the next phase of the Studio West 117 development.
The demolition and clean-up work is being funded by a $4 million Brownfield grant given to the Studio West project in April 2022 by the Ohio Department of Development. A development team led by Gaslamp Capital LLC of Cleveland said it would like to build a seven-story, 212-unit apartment building and 212-space parking garage on the 1.1-acre site. While the work that’s getting underway hints at progress, it doesn’t guarantee that construction of the apartment building will get underway anytime soon, cautioned Daniel Budish, president of Gaslamp Capital, who heads up the Studio West 117 development team.
“We are hoping to have this part completed this summer,” Budish said. “Nothing further to share at this point regarding the larger project.”
“The fencing is related to the site prep work funded, in part, by the State of Ohio Brownfield grant to West 117 Development,” confirmed Shawn Leininger, director of planning and development for the city of Lakewood. “The current work involves abatement, demolition of the building, placement of utility connections in Detroit and Coutant avenues in support of the future redevelopment and construction of a parking lot.”
Major components of the Studio West 117 development plan are seen along Detroit Avenue — the yellow line running horizontally across the image — and on the Lakewood and Cleveland sides of West 117th Street — the vertical yellow line. North is at the top of the image (Google/KJP).
Last summer, Budish told NEOtrans that the Brownfield grant would prepare the NTB site for development while a maximum $5 million State Historic Tax Credit awarded two months earlier would help support renovations of the Homestead/Phantasy Theater Block across the street. The 1917-built theater complex, 1794-11816 Detroit Ave., will be repurposed as a hub of entrepreneurship, arts, culture, health and human services for Greater Cleveland’s LGBTQ+ community.
“Although approved as if it is a permanent improvement, the parking lot is intended to be an interim use of the property supporting the nearby Studio West 117 properties while the necessary reviews and approvals are considered for redevelopment into a multi-story mixed-use project,” Leininger added. “At this time, no redevelopment plans, beyond those approved for the current work, have been submitted to the city for review and approval.”
Through an affiliate West 117 Development Flagship LLC, the development team acquired the closed NTB car repair shop property at 11801 Detroit in December 2021 for $350,000. It was sold by San Diego-based Niki Baseline LP which bought the property five years earlier for $1,173,484, county records show. NTB closed in 2019. The single-level, 14,878-square-foot NTB building was built in 1948 as the West Side Pontiac car dealership and operated from 1962-99 as Jackshaw Pontiac. NEOtrans broke the story in November 2021 that Budish, son of the previous Cuyahoga County Executive, Armond Budish, was seeking to build an apartment building on the NTB site.
In 2021, the development team requested but didn’t get a $8,687,615.20 Transformational Mixed Use Development (TMUD) tax credit from the state to help fill gaps in financing for Studio West 117. After that, it won the State Historic Tax Credit and Brownfield grant totaling $9 million. But due to rising costs of development and interest rates, West 117 Development Flagship requested a $2,935,000 TMUD credit last year but was again passed over.
The NTB shop was built in 1948 as the West Side Pontiac car dealership and, after 1962, became Jackshaw Pontiac until it closed in 1999. It will be demolished in the coming days in anticipation of a multi-story residential development (KJP).
Budish also told NEOtrans he hoped to win the TMUD award to help keep rents at more affordable level for LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and small businesses. He has not indicated if he will try again later this year for the next round of TMUD credits which is intended to benefit “megaprojects” of $50 million or more and that either measure 15 or more stories tall or 350,000 square feet of development among contiguous properties.
Studio West 117 meets the TMUD criteria using the cost of the development and its total square footage among all phases. The development cost was noted at $93,399,267, according to a release from the Ohio Department of Development. However, additional development properties on the Cleveland side that are part of the Studio West campus could bring the total to $125 million, said Cleveland City Councilwoman Jenny Spencer.
The square footage of development includes roughly 275,000 square feet of residential and parking structures at the NTB site, plus the 56,000-square-foot Homestead/Phantasy Theater Block, along with the 30,000-square-foot-plus Fieldhouse at Studio West 117, 1384 Hird Ave. The latter building opened last fall and features six spaces in one place — the Courtyard, Gymnasium, Eat Me Pizza, Muze Gastropub, The Kitchen and Trellis Rooftop Bar. TMUDs can be requested for projects already under construction or for new phases following the completion of older phases.
On both the Lakewood and Cleveland sides of West 117th Street, Budish and partner Betsy Vuillemot-Figgie, owner of Your CFO Resource, have invested more than $3.3 million since 2020 to acquire multiple properties to boost the neighborhood’s fortunes. In addition to the Homestead/Phantasy Theater Block, NTB site and Fieldhouse property, they also bought the “My Friends” building, 11600-11618 Detroit, a funeral home dubbed “The Mansion” at 11210 Detroit Ave. that includes two properties on West 112th Street, plus the Kiddie Kastle’s day care facility at 1235 Lake Ave. in Cleveland.