Seeds & Sprouts XXVII – Downtown apts groundbreaking due, Factory to be artist studios, Urgent Care tosses Pizza Hut

This is the twenty-seventh edition of Seeds & Sprouts – Early intelligence on Cleveland-area real estate projects. Because these projects are very early in their process of development or just a long-range plan, a lot can and probably will change their final shape, use and outcome.

SomeraRoad will start building The Apartments At Bolivar in March in downtown Cleveland's Gateway District.

The Apartments At Bolivar are due to start rising next month between Bolivar Road and Erie Court in downtown Cleveland’s Gateway District. The new apartments will be between Progressive Field and Playhouse Square and overlook the 200-plus-year-old Erie Street Cemetery (Desmone). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM

Groundbreaking due for downtown apartments

The first sign of progress that’s visible on the landscape for The Apartments At Bolivar is expected to appear in mid-March when a groundbreaking for the large, planned apartment complex is due to be held, according to sources familiar with the project. But the first actual sign of construction activity must first begin with a demolition to help clear the way for site preparation and construction of this development in downtown Cleveland’s Gateway District.

A single-level parking garage dating from 1926 and located at 1120 Bolivar Ave. is the subject of a demolition permit application that was submitted to the city last week by Desmone Architects of Pittsburgh. Also submitted to the Building Department was a construction permit application for the foundation and supportive structures for the seven-story apartment building, according to documents available at the department’s web portal.

A new development of 184 market-rate apartments within five floors of wood construction are proposed to be built atop a two-story, newly built reinforced concrete podium where the to-be demolished garage now stands, one of the permit applications shows. In the new podium will be two levels of parking fronted by three leasable ground-floor retail/café spaces totaling 3,331 square feet. A 1971-built, three-level parking garage at 1060-1124 Bolivar will be retained and combined with the new two-level garage next door. The apartments will also be built on top of the existing garage.

looking generally west along Bolivar Road

The single-level parking garage at left, dating from 1926 will be demolished while the 1971-built garage in the background will be retained and have the apartment building constructed on top of it (Cresco).

If demolition occurs and ground is broken next month for The Apartments At Bolivar, the development will have adhered to its anticipated first quarter 2023 start reported by NEOtrans in May 2022. In that article, NEOtrans also broke the news that the project’s principal developer, SomeraRoad of New York City, gained a co-developer and equity partner in Leopardo Companies, Inc. of Chicago. Their partnership MTP-Bolivar Residences Propco, LLC, acquired the parking garage properties totaling 1.26 acres for $4 million on Dec. 29, 2022, according to county records.

The total number of parking spaces will be 283 with 70 spaces for an adjacent office building recently renovated by SomeraRoad which has some of its parking on the building’s ground floor. The remaining 213 spaces to be provided as part of this project would be for residents and accessed only from Erie Court, according to city-approved plans.

Although the proposed seven-story development is not tall, it has large floor plates of more than 50,000 square feet on the lower levels. That helps bring the project’s total size to 272,705 square feet — a significant development. The re-use of the sturdy 1971 garage helps reduce the project’s costs by millions of dollars. That is similar to two recent high-rise apartment building projects on Euclid Avenue — The Beacon and the now-under construction City Club Apartments — which didn’t have to build any structured parking and thereby made those projects economically feasible.

Redevelopment of a 1947-built addition to the old Republic Brass Co. on East 45th Street and Payne Avenue in Cleveland’s Asiatown into artist studios is getting underway thanks to new owners Belden Street Partners (Belden).

East 45th factory to be artist studios

While one historic factory on East 45th Street was recently approved for demolition, another historic factory is getting a new lease on life from new owners with a new vision for the property in Cleveland’s Asiatown neighborhood. Belden Street Partners LLC is redeveloping The Belden Building at 1623 E. 45th with studios for “heavy makers” in Cleveland’s artist community — those who work with heavy machinery — who can’t find suitable space in existing art galleries. The partners are Dan Bush, owner of 78th Street Studios in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood, and Stephanie Hronek, who is moving her motorcycle restoration business to the old factory.

Belden Street Partners, which gets its identity from the historic name of East 45th before north-south Cleveland streets were converted to numbers in 1906, purchased the 18,800-square-foot, 1947-built addition to the long-closed Republic Brass Co. factory in May 2022 for $85,000, according to county records. The main part of the former factory immediately south has another owner, is used for storage and is not part of this development, Hronek said.

“I was looking for a building for myself for a small business I had but was also aware of the vibrant arts community in Cleveland and in Asiatown,” said Hronek of Cleveland Heights and whose primary employment is as a property casualty insurance broker. “I knew Dan Bush from 78th Street Studios who said he gets a lot of inquiries from artists who are heavy makers meaning they work in metal, wood and glass. This building was perfect for them. It’s all on one floor and is more industrial with concrete floors that can support the weight of heavy machinery.”

Located just north of Payne Avenue on East 45th Street, The Belden Building is being redeveloped with up to 13 artist studios that can accommodate heavy equipment for working in ceramics, steel, sculpting, blown glass and other materials. In the center part of the building will be a gallery for displaying art works (TWR).

The building has been vacant for more than a decade with broken windows that allowed scrappers to get in and strip the building of its metal pipes, wires and furnishings. The roof was also leaking badly and left a pool of slimy algae on the floor. But Hronek noted the most of the building was built very solidly including its thick concrete floor. That allowed for the structure to be saved and redeveloped with a new purpose.

“The bones of the building were amazing,” Hronek said. “It was built out of steel I-beams. If hadn’t been built like that it would have collapsed a long time ago.”

The roof was repaired last year and now work is about to begin inside to install partitions to create 13 individual artist suites that will average about 1,000 square feet each. A couple of spaces are about 700 square feet. One unit that’s already spoken for will have a sculpting business and measure 1,700 square feet while Hronek’s business will need 2,800 square feet. But she said if the building gets a tenant who wants 2,000 square feet, she and Bush will work to accommodate them. Belden Street Partners also acquired a narrow fenced-in gravel parking lot to the north that they hope to pave with up to 20 parking spaces. Altogether, the redevelopment will total about a $600,000 investment in the Asiatown neighborhood.

“It’s an up-and-coming area with a lot of stability and the kinds of things you look for in a neighborhood,” Hronek added. But she doubted the development of the nearby Superior Arts District will push any new tenants their way. “I don’t know if we’ll get anything from that because they were so underpriced over there, especially at the Artcraft Building. They may find homes in some of the other old buildings on the East Side.”

Currently the site of a Pizza Hut, this Urgent Care is proposed to be built at the southeast corner of West 117th Street and Detroit in Cleveland. Lakewood is on the other side of West 117th (Rare).

Urgent Care Center to toss Pizza Hut

Cleveland’s City Planning Commission last week approved the demolition of a Pizza Hut restaurant that has been at the southeast corner of West 117th Street and Detroit Avenue since 1987. Before that it was a Shell gas station which in 1970 replaced the ornate, Spanish-style Granada Theater that closed the year before. The next chapter for that busy street corner will likely be an Urgent Care Center if the commission approves a final design for it in the coming weeks.

Proposed is a building with roughly the same footprint as the Pizza Hut but the Urgent Care Center will be moved closer to West 117th and Detroit Avenue, both of which are zoned for local retail business with a pedestrian retail overlay (PRO) along the two streets. That PRO prompted the developer Niki Group LLC of San Diego, CA and architect RARE Design Studio of Richfield to redesign the structural and site plans after feedback from the Far West Design Review Committee. The PRO requires at least 65 percent of the street-facing facades along Detroit and West 117th to have clear glass to provide a more pedestrian-friendly setting.

Previously, all of the windows on the Detroit and West 117th side were designed with opaque Spandrel glass and the building’s main entrance faced the parking lot on the east side of the building. Dave Sambor, managing principal at RARE Design Studio, said he redesigned the site by relocating the main entrance to face Detroit, moving the building closer to the street-side sidewalks, adding a pedestrian plaza with benches and landscaping at the street corner, and provided clear glass for all rooms except patient examination rooms.

Sambor also told Planning Commission members that the building will still have some landscaping between it and the sidewalks on Detroit and West 117th. Commission member Marika Shioiri-Clark asked why this building would be pulled back from the sidewalks whereas buildings on the other corners touch the sidewalks. Sambor said he thought the new landscaping would “soften up” the edges of the building and make it more pedestrian friendly. The plans have to come back to Planning Commission for final approval.

Niki Group recently owned a property nearby at 11801 Detroit that had a National Tire & Battery franchise in it until 2019. That property was acquired by an affiliate of a development team led by Gaslamp Capital LLC which is demolishing it for a future seven-story apartment building and parking garage. That project is part of the group’s overall development vision for the area called Studio West 117. The Urgent Care Center is not part of that plan, however.


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