Brooklyn Centre’s Pearls of development

The next phase of development on Pearl Road in Cleveland’s Brooklyn Centre is the two-structure Flats on Pearl plus a half-dozen new townhomes behind them. Their developer, Kostas Almiroudis of Lakewood, has already reactivated the former Masonic Hall at far left into the Lofts on Pearl (Brandt). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.

More apartments, retail planned on Pearl

For real estate investor Kostas Almiroudis, rebuilding one historic building on Pearl Road in Cleveland’s Brooklyn Centre wasn’t enough of a labor of love and pain for him. Across a side street, he’s seeking to embark on an even more ambitious project — renovate another mixed-use building, build a new one and construct six townhomes behind them totaling 40 housing units.

That project — the Flats on Pearl and the Row on Garden — would continue to remake this stretch of Pearl just north of Denison Avenue with sidewalk-facing retail spaces topped by apartments. One historic structure to achieve that vision already exists at the northwest corner of Pearl and Garden Avenue and another partially exists just north of that.

Both are across Garden from the Lofts on Pearl to which Almiroudis is putting his finishing touches. For $5.2 million, he is fashioning 26 market-rate apartments and two ground-floor commercial spaces from the former Brooklyn Masonic Temple. He feels strongly enough about pursuing more developments in this neighborhood that one of those two commercial spaces in the Lofts on Pearl will become the offices of his real estate company ALMiCO Group, now currently in Lakewood.

Almiroudis says he likes Brooklyn Centre because of its proximity to the growing MetroHealth Medical Center campus, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Steelyard Commons. The surrounding neighborhood is relatively stable and, for the most part, has a good quality housing stock. But he said he wants to invest in updating a part of the neighborhood that needs attention.

Affiliates of the ALMiCO Group are amassing a large portfolio of properties near the intersection of Pearl Road and Garden Avenue in Brooklyn Centre. At left and center are the proposed Garden Row townhomes. At right is the nearly completed Lofts on Pearl. To the left of its is the Kerns Building. Just beyond is the planned Flats on Pearl (Brandt).

At the northwest corner of Pearl and Garden is the three-story Kerns Building, built at the turn of the prior century. It measures only 9,264 square feet so it might accommodate only a half-dozen apartments above a ground-floor retail space or two. Just north of the Kerns Building is a single-level, 4,778-square-foot commercial structure that Almiroudis plans to redevelop by topping it with four levels of apartments. Between two buildings, the Flats on Pearl will offer two retail units totaling 2,600 square feet, eight one-bedroom apartments and 26 two-bedroom suites, or 34 total.

The Kerns Building property includes three houses on Garden behind the commercial building. The house directly behind the Kerns Building was actually built in the 19th century as a farmhouse closer to Pearl but was moved back to make way for the Kerns, Almiroudis said. All three house are in poor condition and are due to be demolished.

Six new townhomes are proposed to replace them. The townhomes are designed by Brandt Architecture of Rocky River with similar dimensions and features as the decayed homes they will replace, Almiroudis said. He grew up in Greece and moved to New York City in the 1980s and gained a desire to preserve historic buildings but within reason as not all buildings are salvageable.

A close-up of the proposed Garden Row townhomes on Garden Avenue behind the Kerns Building (Brandt).

“I grew up in a 1,300-year-old castle in Greece,” he said. “So when I see people touching old stuff, it drives me bananas. But I also saw what happened in New York City in the 90s and how people were fighting to renovate Harlem and downtown and the Bowery. You can’t save everything and not all of these houses (on Garden) can or should be saved. This one (house behind the Kerns Building) has so many holes in the roof you can’t even walk inside. I had the architect (Brandt) measure the points house to house (on the existing homes) and use those measurements in the (Garden Row) townhomes.”

A 122-year-old house at 2806 Garden was already acquired by Almiroudis in 2021 for $15,000 and demolished to make way for a driveway to a parking lot he acquired for the Lofts on Pearl. That lot is part of the same parcel that has the one-story commercial building fronting Pearl that would have the Flats on Pearl built above it. He also acquired that property in 2021 but for $150,000, county records show.

Almiroudis said he tried to acquire the Kerns Building for years from its owner John W. Hickey, an attorney who bought it in 1974 and had his law office on the building’s ground floor. But Hickey, who was in his 90s when Almiroudis came calling, loved the building and didn’t want to part with it.

The 124-year-old Kerns Building at the northwest corner of Pearl Road and Garden Avenue remains in relatively good condition but needs some TLC. Owner Kostas Almiroudis said he intends to thoroughly renovate the building with apartments and a ground-floor retail or lobby space facing Pearl (Google).

“It’s absolutely beautiful; it’s amazing inside,” Almiroudis said. “I would knock on his door every day. He got tired of listening to my voice every morning.”

Hickey agreed to sell but died May 30, 2022 while the transaction was still in process. Hickey’s longtime friend and attorney Thomas J. Scanlon served as the trustee of Hickey’s estate. But Scanlon passed away Oct. 30, 2022 at the age of 84. The estate’s successor trustee was Robert W. Monroe who oversaw the sale to Almiroudis.

After two years, Hickey’s properties were sold in October 2023 to a company called Garden Row LLC set up by Almiroudis. The Kerns Building and the houses behind it were sold for $525,000, county records show. For $75,000, the same Garden Row affiliate acquired 3811 Pearl, a two-story mixed-use building across the street from the Lofts on Pearl but Almiroudis hasn’t finalized plans for that property.


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