The addition of more apartments along Chester Avenue in Cleveland’s Hough neighborhoods will continue, this time with the addition of Chester 82, to accommodate the growing number of workers at Cleveland Clinic and other University Circle-area eds-and-meds institutions (Sullivan Bruck). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.
Eds-and-meds growth drives housing
When the Cleveland Planning Commission gave final approval of design plans on April 21 for the Chester 82 development, 1898 E. 82nd St., it coincided with the federal government’s release of the latest jobs data for Greater Cleveland. That data offered a reminder of why Chester 82 and other residential developments in Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood are happening.
While the number of all jobs across all employment sectors in Greater Cleveland grew at a tepid 1.4 percent last month compared to March 2022, the job growth in the region’s largest sector — education and health services — jumped by 5.3 percent to 206,000 jobs, its highest level since March 2018. The eds-and-meds sector, effectively headquartered in the University Circle area, continues to demand more housing nearby including in Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood where Chester 82 would rise.
Eds-and-meds job growth has been rising at a 4-plus-percent clip since last fall, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics after slow or no growth since the start of the pandemic in 2020 that wiped out more than 10,000 jobs and seven years of employment gains in the sector locally. Given the robust construction plans at Cleveland Clinic, Case Western Reserve University and other major institutions in the area, it is hoped that employment in the sector will soon surpass its late-2019, early 2020 peak of 208,000 jobs in education and health services.
Ground floor site plan for Chester 82 showing the addition of the community space, both indoor and outdoor hardscape plaza near the corner of Chester Avenue and East 82nd Street (Sullivan Bruck).
But those employees and students will need places to live and, for many of them, they want to live within a short walk or bike ride to work or school. Developments in Hough in recent years are trying to respond to that with a mix of housing styles and rents. The pace of development is remarkable, with 800 new housing units recently built, underway or planned. Counted in that figure is the five-story Chester 82 which won final design approval on Friday with only one vote against the plan by Planning Commission member Denise McCray-Scott. Construction could start before the end of summer.
Developing Chester 82 at the northwest corner of Chester Avenue and East 82nd Street is Marous Brothers Construction Inc. of Willoughby which has two housing developments nearby, to the southeast of University Circle — Woodhill Center East and Woodhill Station West that will add nearly 200 mixed-income housing units to the long-neglected Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood. After months of delay, Chester 82 is moving forward thanks to a reduction in lumber prices and the conclusion of major revisions to the project’s design following input from multiple community sources. The biggest change was the removal of a portion of the building’s top floor to reduce the building’s mass.
“We have made changes over time to site planning and density,” said Arne Goldman, Marous’ director of business development. “We have gone from 162 to 131 units (and) parking from 165 spaces down to 138. (We) added a lot of landscaping. We’ve changed the massing of the building height.”
One of the biggest design issues for the city and its various design review boards was how Chester 82 would relate to this house on East 81st Street. The original design was reduced in scale from five stories to four at this corner, it was stepped back at the top and the top floor’s color was changed so that it wasn’t so noticeable. Also thick landscaping was added as a buffer (Sullivan Bruck).
Marous and Sullivan Bruck Architects of Columbus also reduced the scale of the building where it will abut a single-family residence on East 81st Street. They also moved an outdoor car wash and replaced its former location with outdoor seating and added dense landscaping between the home and the apartment building. Plus, at the urging of Planning Commission, a bike storage area that was at the front of the building along Chester was moved inside the enclosed parking garage. Where the bike storage was, Marous and Sullivan Bruck created an indoor and outdoor community space with a hardscape plaza that is partially covered with a canopy.
“That is a big change,” Goldman said. “(The) second change is due to concerns we’ve heard. To be responsive, we’ve eliminated the amenity deck. It used to be at the second floor which was an outdoor gathering space which could have created some noise. That activity has now been moved to the front along Chester Avenue where we think it is more appropriate.”
“A personal thank you for making the change to moving the common space to Chester Avenue,” said City Planning Director Joyce Huang at Friday’s meeting. “I think that will activate Chester more and show what’s happening inside the building.”
Looking west from East 82nd Street at the parking lot and garage entrance for Chester 82. The intersection of East 82nd Street and Chester Avenue is at far-left (Sullivan Bruck).
NEOtrans broke the story on Chester 82 last June, a site that Marous has wanted to develop for 17 years. Marous acquired most of the 1.6-acre site in 2006 from the city’s land bank. On the land was a closed Madonna Hall, built in 1926 as a Catholic-sponsored boarding house for working girls and women. In 1946 it was converted into a nursing home for 105 elderly women, operated by the Franciscan Sisters of the Blessed Kunegunda. Scidem, Inc. acquired the property in 1970 and continued to operate it as a nursing home for another three decades, according to the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History.
Marous, under the name Madonna Hall Development LLC, acquired the property and considered various housing development options. Marous changed its site-specific corporate identity in 2007 to Chester 82 LLC, razed Madonna Hall soon thereafter, and proposed to build townhomes. The homes would have been similar to those at its dense, walkable Battery Park development that was just getting underway near Edgewater Park on the city’s West Side. But the Great Recession of 2008 put a halt to Marous’ townhome plans. In the years since, Marous increasingly favored apartments.