Looking northward up South Taylor Road at the Taylor Tudors, a trio of historic, Tudor Revival apartment buildings over street-level retail. The view in this rendering is from a future phase of the same overall development in Cleveland Heights’ Stadium Square Historic District which includes 208 apartments, about 24 townhomes and more than 300 parking spaces in a deck hidden behind the new apartment buildings (RDL). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM
Cleveland’s McKinley School, Cleveland Hts’ Taylor Tudors win
ARTICLE UPDATED MARCH 9, 2023
Two Greater Cleveland historic rehabilitation projects got an unexpected boost this week to the tune of nearly $7.2 million. The Taylor Tudors portion of a larger development in Cleveland Heights plus a renovation of McKinley School in Cleveland’s Westown-Jefferson Neighborhood were beneficiaries of an oversight by the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD).
The state awarded $17.5 million to rehabilitate and restore eight historic buildings around the state with three of those in Cleveland Heights, according to a written statement from ODOD. These awards were made after a re-evaluation of scoring procedures for Round 29 tax credits that was originally awarded in December 2022. The new evaluation was based on language in Senate Bill 225 which became law in June 2022 and, among other things, changed the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit (OHPTC) program.
These awards should have been included in the December announcement but were inadvertently left off, according to an ODOD press statement. The Round 29 OHPTC awards in December totaled $64.1 million. this week’s awards are expected to leverage approximately $118 million in private investment and brings the Round 29 totals to $81,693,579 in tax credits for 60 projects in 21 communities.
Ohio’s largest OHPTC award in this supplemental announcement $5,955,232 went to help offset the $37 million cost of renovating the Taylor Tudors. It is part of a $100 million, 6.92-acre development known as Stadium Square Historic District on both sides of South Taylor Road, just north of Cain Park and the Taylor Road Synagogue. WXZ Development of Fairview Park plans to renovate the Taylor Tudors — a trio of identical mostly vacant, three-story Tudor Revival buildings, 1900-1946 S. Taylor Rd., with ground-floor retail spaces and 44 apartments on the upper floors. The Taylor Tudors were built between 1927 and 1929.
Site plan for the Stadium Square Historic District development along South Taylor Road in Cleveland Heights shows some of the project’s components and its proximity to Cain Park (RDL).
The properties on which those buildings are set were acquired nearly five years ago by the city of Cleveland Heights’ Land Reutilization Program after a tax foreclosure. The Taylor Road Synagogue is also desired by the city and the developer to be part of the redevelopment but has been mired in its own tax foreclosure case since 2016.
According to county records, it owes more than $5.67 million in unpaid taxes and penalties. That’s the second-largest amount of delinquent taxes and penalties in the county. The development area’s name Stadium Square harkens back to an unrealized plan in the 1920s to build a stadium as part of Cain Park. The district is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Across South Taylor from the historic buildings is a strip shopping center called Taylor Commons that would be demolished and replaced with two new mixed-use buildings offering a total of 208 apartments over street-level commercial space. Another two dozen for-sale townhomes are also planned along the east side of South Taylor. Behind them would be a parking garage with approximately 308 parking spaces, plans submitted to the city show.
“We are, obviously, excited by the news of the tax credit award for this important redevelopment project,” said Eric Zamft, director of planning and development for the city of Cleveland Heights.
This rendering looks from the Taylor Tudors, across South Taylor Road, to the site where the Taylor Commons retail strip now stands. The shopping center would be demolished for apartment buildings with ground-floor retail including public spaces and streetscaping along the street (RDL).
“This type of project isn’t economically feasible without the historic tax credits, especially to have it done in a way the city would want to see like WXZ is planning on doing,” said Brian Anderson, business development manager for the city of Cleveland Heights. “So, the historic tax credits were always part of the projected capital stack to get this to the construction phase to go along with traditional financing components — construction loan, developer/private equity, etc.”
He noted that, since the Taylor Tudors are part of a larger vision with multiple potential phases — Taylor Road Synagogue, Taylor Commons and more — the city and WXZ are also exploring other additional funding sources to provide capital to one or more of the phases. Renovations on the Taylor Tudors could start this summer but no timetable has been set for demolition of Taylor Plaza shopping plaza and construction of the apartments and townhomes.
“The recent tax credit award certainly moves the timeline up for construction to commence,” Anderson added. “Hopefully, that can be in the summer, but an exact date is still to be determined. Everyone is remobilizing with the welcomed tax credit announcement versus having to wait for a verdict on the upcoming round of tax credits.”
On the other side of town, the $12.3 million renovation of McKinley School, 3349 W. 125th St. in Cleveland’s Westown-Jefferson neighborhood, got a $1.2 million boost from the surprise historic tax credit award. The school, constructed in 1921 and closed in 2017, is an example of Jacobethan style fireproof school architecture by Cleveland architects Fulton, Taylor, and Cahill, according to the written statement from the ODOD.
McKinley School, formerly a primary school of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, is closer to gaining new life as a free, dual-language immersion charter school for the Global Ambassadors Language Academy (Google).
Global Ambassadors Language Academy (GALA) will rehabilitate the 49,728-square-foot school to serve as a free, dual-language immersion charter school. The school offers Spanish- and Mandarin-immersion education programs. The renovation work will include updating classrooms, gymnasium, auditorium and commercial space. The school building is a city-designated landmark, according to the city’s Landmarks Commission.
GALA acquired McKinley School via a quit-claim deed on Aug. 27, 2021, county records show. Its sale was separate from a 10-school sale of Cleveland Metropolitan School District properties approved by the district later that year. A sale amount for McKinley School was not immediately available.
However, a $500,000 mortgage by the non-profit Cleveland Neighborhood Progress Inc.’s Village Capital Corp. was given to GALA with the McKinley School property identified as the mortgaged property. In 2021, the property had a tax value of $1.1 million which dropped to $661,900 last year. The property is overgrown with vegetation and was vandalized.
Additional projects receiving historic tax credits in this corrective action were the Fairfield Shoe Factory in Lancaster southeast of Columbus, the Lostro Building in Athens, the Commodore Apartments in Dayton, and the Edward Wren Building in Springfield. The OHPTC program is administered in partnership with the Ohio History Connection’s State Historic Preservation Office. The State Historic Preservation Office determines if a property qualifies as a historic building and that the rehabilitation plans comply with the United States Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.