Flats On Pearl OK’d, Row On Garden tabled

Landmarks Commission members approved this updated design of the Flats On Pearl, a new-construction apartments-over-retail building next to the 134-year-old, to-be-renovated Kerns Building at the corner of West 25th Street and Garden Avenue. Behind the Kerns office building are four houses in varying degrees of decay that developer Kostas Almiroudis plans to demolish (Brandt). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.

Demolition of 3 of 4 old homes approved

A next step for developer Kostas Almiroudis went forward when the Cleveland Landmarks Commission approved plans for the mixed-use Flats On Pearl. But the commission didn’t take as many steps forward as Almiroudis wanted, in requesting the demolition of four neighboring, decayed houses and a small townhouse development that would replace them.

A certificate of appropriateness — for work on buildings in an historic district — was approved by commission this week for the Flats On Pearl, a planned five-story building with 34 apartments above three ground-floor retail spaces totaling 2,459 square feet. The structure would rise at 3784 Pearl Rd. in the Brooklyn Centre Historic District that was settled by persons seeking land in the Connecticut Western Reserve more than 200 years ago.

The site held a single-story, 108-year-old commercial building that was recently razed following the award of a demolition permit Jan. 9. Almiroudis had hoped to retain the building but it wouldn’t support a vertical addition. A preserved façade also wouldn’t have survived a partial demolition of the building behind. Since it was not considered to be an architecturally significant building, the commission allowed to be razed.

Commission members also were effusive in their praise of the new design for the Flats On Pearl, which they said “keeps getting better” every time the plans get refined and submitted by architect Jill Brandt, principal of Brandt Architecture of Rocky River. The design of the mixed-use building is influenced by its smaller neighbors without overwhelming them by its larger scale.

Site plan for the new-construction Flats On Pearl and the Row On Garden townhouses which have garage parking on their ground floors, plus 57 parking lot spaces behind. Also shown is the recently renovated Lofts On Pearl and the to-be-renovated Kerns Building (Brandt).

It does that by stepping back the top floor from the building’s street frontage and, next to the historic Kerns Building, the Flats On Pearl has its top three floors set back. The new building also had its main entrance moved next to the Kerns so that, when renovated, it will serve as its main entrance. Plans for the renovation of the Kerns haven’t been finalized but Almiroudis said he looking forward to restoring it.

“It’s absolutely beautiful,” he said of the 134-year-old Kerns Building. “It’s amazing inside.”

Flats On Pearl is Almiroudis’ next phase of development on this stretch of Pearl. He just completed the $5.2 million renovation and conversion of the 98-year-old Brooklyn Masonic Temple, 3804 Pearl, into the Lofts On Pearl. That building now offers 26 market-rate apartments over two ground-floor retail spaces. One of those spaces will be the new offices of Almiroudis’ real estate umbrella company, the ALMiCo Group.

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.

Developer Kostas Almiroudis will have to wait before he can build the Row On Garden townhomes where four dilapidated houses now stand. The Landmarks Commission tabled his request to build them along with a request to raze one of the four old houses. Demolition of the other three were OK’d by the commission (Brandt).

Plans were also submitted to the Landmarks Commission for the development of six Row On Garden townhouses on the site of four old and rapidly decaying homes. Almiroudis said the home closest to the Kerns Building was a 19th-century farmhouse that was shifted over to that site so the Kerns could be built on Pearl. But the former farmhouse is collapsing from the back and is unsafe to enter.

Demolition requests for three of the four homes were approved but the fourth, for a 1890s-era house at 2902 Garden, was tabled at urging of the Landmarks Commission staff. Thus, a requested certificate of appropriateness for constructing the Row On Garden townhouses also was tabled. Three years ago, a 122-year-old house at 2806 Garden was razed by Almiroudis and demolished to make way for a driveway to a parking lot he acquired for the Lofts On Pearl. 

For the four remaining houses on Garden that Almiroudis owns. he got estimates of their restoration requirements and costs from Scalish Construction. The least expensive restoration was estimated at just under $1 million which included shoring up foundations and reattaching roof dormers to the rest of the roof. Landmarks Commission staff said those estimates were by a firm that does high-end work and urged additional estimates be sought.

But Brandt countered that, even if the actual cost of rebuilding any one of those houses could be discounted 50 percent, its cost would still be out of line for the Brooklyn Centre housing market. Houses in the immediate neighborhood are listed for sale at anywhere from $89,000 to $175,000, according to real estate listing Web site Zillow. Almiroudis considered the houses as “unsalvageable” although some materials from the homes will be salvaged.

Landmarks Commission granted developer Kostas Almiroudis permission to demolish three of four houses on Garden Avenue. But it tabled his request to raze 2902 Garden Ave. pending more information including additional renovation estimates and a possible tour of the house by Landmarks Commission members (Brandt).

“I grew up in a 1,300-year-old castle in Greece,” he said, then moved to New York City before settling in Greater Cleveland. “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.”

After years of trying to acquire the Kerns, Almiroudis purchased it and the decaying houses behind it in October 2023 under the name Garden Row LLC for $525,000, Cuyahoga County records show. Those properties were purchased from the estate of John W. Hickey who had owned them since the 1970s but he was increasingly unable to maintain them as he aged into his 90s.

Hickey agreed to sell the land to Almiroudis but Hickey 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.

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, county records show. But Almiroudis said he hasn’t finalized plans for that property at this time.


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