Vacant for four years but standing for 136 years, The Empire Plow Co. on East 65th Street is about to come down. Replacing the manufacturer that had its roots in the cotton fields of pre-Civil War Georgia will be a new facility for local a trucking company (Google). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.
Plant for 183-year-old manufacturer is coming down
The Empire Plow Co. has been in existence for 183 years. Its factory in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood has stood for 136 years. But since it’s been vacant for four years, it’s likely to be demolished by the end of this year. And, according to the property owner, the site is proposed to be bought by a local trucking firm that needs more space for its growing business.
Jim Wallace Land Company LLC bought the 4.4-acre property at 3140 E. 65th St. last month from LEED Recycling LLC for $190,000, according to Cuyahoga County records. And earlier this week, the new owner submitted a demolition application request to the Cleveland Building Department. In it, the owner proposes to level all of the historic buildings which total 115,122 square feet, remove their foundations and demolition debris, bulkhead the sewers and cap the utilities for $200,000, the filing shows.
“I’m taking down the building and cleaning it up,” said Jim Wallace in a phone interview with NEOtrans. “I already sold it to a new user. A trucking company is buying it. Yes, the company is based in Cleveland.”
Back in 1887 when this Sanborn Fire Insurance Map was published, East 65th Street was called Tod Street and East 63rd Street was called Evergreen Street. Between them, Empire Plow was just starting out in its new home city of Cleveland after relocating from Pittsburgh and Georgia before that (Library of Congress).
Wallace, who owns a company called Industrial Liquidators based in suburban Northfield, declined to identify the buyer. However, right next door at 6200 Roland Ave. is a small trucking terminal on 2.86 acres owned by a firm called Oleg Trucking LLC. The 12-year-old company is owned by Oleg Paramushchak of Medina. An e-mail sent by NEOtrans to Oleg Trucking seeking more information about their plans was not responded to prior to publication of this article. Although the historic brick buildings might make for a nice conversion to residential as part of Slavic Village’s intensifying redevelopment, the site is in an industrial area that’s accessible to the Opportunity Corridor.
Chris Alvarado, executive director of the Slavic Village Development Corp., said Wallace told him basically the same thing that he told NEOtrans — “That he is only handling the demo and will sell to a new owner once the land is cleared,” he said.
The prior owner also tried to demolish the property but its application to the building department was refused. LEED Recycling measured the buildings that were to be demolished at 149,221square feet and proposed to spend $52,000 to raze and remove them. There is no information in the department’s web portal explaining why the application’s intake was declined. But the portal shows there have been numerous complaints about the conditions and lack of maintenance of buildings on the former Empire Plow site.
Satellite view from this year of the site of the former Empire Plow Company plant on East 65th Street in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood (myplace.cuyahogacounty.us).
There are caution signs on the Empire Plow buildings. Red signs with a white “X” on a vacant building means that is considered unsafe for safety forces to enter, according to the Cleveland Fire Department. Such signs warn extreme caution and that all emergency responders should limit fire fighting to outside operations only and to enter the buildings only if there are known life hazards such as a person trapped inside. It does not mean the building is condemned or about to be demolished. There are no records that the city has condemned the Empire Plow buildings.
Empire Plow was founded in Georgia in 1840 when it was a slave state to manufacture farm implements to aid in the farming of cotton, according to the company’s Web site. The company’s factory moved from Georgia to Pittsburgh in the late 1850s as tensions between the free North states and the slave states of the South worsened. After the Civil War, Empire Plow company sought to expand and relocated its manufacturing facilities by 1887 to its East 65th plant in Cleveland. It remained in continuous operation at that site until March 31, 2019, the company said.
Production operations were moved into two plants, one in Perry, Iowa and one in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada that are part of the Ralph McKay Group of Companies, the current owners of Empire Plow. The company has a sales office located in the Cleveland suburb of Berea. During its 132 years of manufacturing on East 65th, the company produced plows, wheel barrows, agricultural blades and implements. During World War II, when domestic needs took a backseat to wartime production, the company made airstrip landing mats that were used in places like Okinawa in the Pacific Theater of the war.