East 105th: What difference a decade makes

There’s only two things that are the same in these two photos from August 2014, top, and December 2023 at bottom. One is the street address — 2200 E. 105th St. The other is the brownish 16-story Walker Center which was the tallest building in the University Circle area in 2014. Today it’s the third-tallest and nearly blocked out of view by the Cleveland Clinic’s 3,000-car, 915,000-square-foot East 105th Parking Garage. At left is the new Medley Apartments over Meijer grocery store. Across the street is the former IBM Explorys building that may be the new home for Canon Healthcare research (Google/KJP). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.

Opportunity Corridor remakes Fairfax for future

For many Greater Clevelanders and visitors, they now enter the Cleveland Clinic’s Main Campus and the University Circle area on the new Opportunity Corridor Boulevard. But few people traveled on the East 105th street portion before the boulevard was completed in late-2021. Today’s commuters and visitors may not have a full appreciation of how much the scenery along their commute or visits have changed in less than a decade.

Fortunately, five years ago, as construction was getting underway on the East 105th Street portion of the Opportunity Corridor, Streetviews from the late 2000s and mid-2010s were still being displayed on the mapping functions of Google Earth. So NEOtrans saved those Streetviews for a future comparison. That comparison is shown here.

And we’re almost certainly not done comparing. This thoroughfare likely has more changes in store for the future. The Clinic continues to build new hospital and research facilities in this area, called the Innovation District. Furthermore, Canon Healthcare is also adding research facilities to this corridor and possibly its headquarters and/or manufacturing plants.

Aside from a street sign, the view looking north from East 105th Street at Hudson Avenue in August 2014, top, bears no resemblance to the same view in December 2023. An abandoned gas station at far right in 2014, plus an apartment-over-store just beyond at Arthur Avenue are among the many casualties of East 105th’s widening as the Opportunity Corridor, replaced by large new buildings and parking structures with more coming (Google/KJP).

Blighted houses to the east of East 105th, south of Cedar Avenue, are being acquired by the city or Fairfax Renaissance Development Corp. and demolished to assemble land for future commercial projects. Pretty soon, the last vestiges of a residential neighborhood and its East 105th commercial corridor that peaked in the early- to mid-20th century will be gone.

However, modern housing ranging in price from affordable to luxury is being added to East 105th and the streets to the west of it. Finishing touches are being put on two major developments. The Medley, with 196 market-rate apartments above a 40,000-square-foot Meijer urban format grocery store is now open for business. A 200-car parking garage is adjacent to the $53 million, six-story building off the newly extended Frank Avenue, formerly Wain Court.

Not only is the store now open but apartments are leasing quickly. Only 18 units are shown as still available. Representatives of developer Fairmount Properties of Orange Village have previously said they would pursue a second phase depending on the progress of leasing at phase one and on market conditions. Fairmount Principal Randy Ruttenberg did not respond to a NEOtrans inquiry prior to publication of this article.

In this view (south by the compass, or west by the road sign) along East 105th, not even the street signs are the same anymore. Here, the alley Wain Court in August 2014 was changed to an extension of a two-way Frank Avenue to access The Medley apartments and Meijer grocery store. A tiny corner of the store’s parking lot is visible. Beyond is the Aura apartments, the first phase of Innovation Square (Google/KJP).

Just to the south of The Medley, construction is also wrapping up on the Aura at Innovation Square, a $27 million, four-story, 82-unit mixed-income apartment building over ground-floor retail. It is at the northwest corner of East 105th and Hudson Avenue that was newly extended to East 101st, past the brand-new Playwright Park.

It is just the first of three phases for the Innovation Square housing development, led by Fairfax Renaissance and St. Louis-based McCormack Baron Salazar. According to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, financing is already coming together for the nearly $20 million second phase of the Innovation Square.

A 60-unit, affordable apartment building at the southwest corner of East 105th and Hudson could be under construction by this time next year. The second phase will extend south to Quebec Avenue, a few steps from the Red Line train station at East 105th and Quincy Avenue. The station was expanded two years ago with a $4 million second entrance offering a stairwell and elevator on the east side of East 105th.

Looking north along East 105th Street at Norman Avenue, one of the first intersections north of the Red Line train station, single-family homes have given way to large apartment blocks to satisfy a strong demand for modern housing near the fast-growing University Circle area. A few homes still stand on the east side of East 105th for now (Google/KJP).

Single-family infill homes are being planned, constructed and sold on north-south sidestreets west of East 105th. Most of the high-end homes are being built by Knez Homes of Painesville. They are ranging in size from 1,500 to 2,000 square feet and listing in the low-$400,000 range. Existing, renovated homes are being offered for less, sometimes as low as $100,000.

The area affected by the Opportunity Corridor’s construction was significantly depopulated, comprised mostly of abandoned factories and vacant land. There were only 90 households displaced by the road project, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation. Most of the housing conditions were substandard with the homes being in disrepair and having lead paint and lead water pipes.

Just in this stretch of East 105th, 338 housing units were built, are under construction or about to start construction. Of that, about one-third are priced as affordable housing units and are much more modern, cleaner, healthier and just as pedestrian- and transit-accessible as what was replaced, including to a new full-service grocery store with fresh, healthy foods a few steps away.


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