Cleveland seeks developers for Slavic Village school site

A boarded-up Fullerton Elementary School, shortly before it was demolished. This now-cleared, 2.6-acre site is being offered for redevelopment by the city of Cleveland and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (Google). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.

Fullerton School site offers housing opportunity

A site in Cleveland’s Slavic Village that has hosted school facilities for the last 127 years could host a new use in the coming years depending on the response to a request for qualifications (RFQ) from prospective developers. That RFQ was issued this week by the city of Cleveland’s Department of Community Development, in partnership with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD).

The RFQ invites professional project teams who are interested in redeveloping the former Fullerton Elementary School site, 5810-5920 Fullerton Ave. The site, which is the former location of the recently demolished Fullerton Elementary School, makes available 2.6 acres in Broadway-Slavic Village, one block south of Fleet Avenue — Cleveland’s only “complete and green street.”

NEOtrans reported exclusively last summer that this property was going to be offered to developers. Our published report was the result of NEOtrans seeing a demolition permit being submitted to the city’s Building Department so the school district could raze the 50-year-old, 39,000-square-foot school. Fullerton School, which had 240 students in grades K-8, was considered surplus by CMSD and closed in 2019.

“Our hope with this RFQ is to build upon Slavic Village’s existing assets to attract development projects that support the enduring neighborhood while expanding opportunities for more individuals to live, work and play in Slavic Village,” said Cleveland’s Director of Community Development Alyssa Hernandez in a written statement.

Location of the Fullerton School site and its relation to Interstate 77 and Fleet Avenue (Google).

The Department of Community Development collaborated with Slavic Village Development and Ward 12 City Councilwoman Rebecca Maurer’s Office to administer an engagement process to provide this redevelopment opportunity. Details on the engagement process and outcomes are included in the appendix of the RFQ.

The site currently is zoned for two-family residential with building heights restricted to 35 feet. But there is a limited retail district extending south along East 57th Street from Fleet Avenue, just one block north that might encourage a developer to expand their area of interest here.

The retail district ends at and includes two parcels, one vacant and the other with a house on it, at the southeast corner of Fullerton and East 57th, city zoning maps show. There are also several vacant parcels in that same area, between the school property and East 57th, that are in the city’s land bank.

“This site is part of our neighborhood’s history and will now be part of our future,” Maurer said. “We have the chance to start fresh with clean, green land and I am excited to dream big and see what the project teams come up with.”

From 1897 to about 1970, this was the previous Fullerton School building, facing north to Fullerton Avenue (Slavic Village Historical Society).

Qualifications will be accepted from Feb. 5 through March 25, 2024, with selection of a development team no later than April 26, 2024. The submission process and evaluation criteria can be found on pages 15-17 of the RFQ. Learn more about this and other asset redevelopment projects and access the full RFQ at the city’s Asset Redevelopment Web page.

“This opportunity continues to expand the list of public-private partnerships created by the city and CMSD to place former school sites and buildings back into productive use,” added Michele Pomerantz, Mayor Justin Bibb’s chief of education. “These projects benefit the communities in which they are located and deepen the broad investment we are making in education.”

This is the second time the school has been offered by the city and CMSD. The school district issued a request for qualifications in 2021 to evaluate potential bidders who were interested in acquiring and redeveloping 12 closed school buildings and seven vacant district properties. Fullerton was among those offered, but only 10 school properties received any offers.

Slavic Village Development officials said Fullerton wasn’t among the desired properties because of the costs of demolishing and clearing the existing building. The rents in the surrounding neighborhood, where two-thirds of families are below the poverty line, didn’t justify a developer taking on the demolition and clean-up costs. If the site was already cleared, as it is now, a developer might get a return on its investment by developing it.


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