Lakewood church may be razed for senior apartments

The 106-year-old Lakewood Baptist Church on Detroit Avenue faces demolition by a local developer which seeks to raze the church for a senior apartment building while retaining and expanding the day center that uses the school building in back (Google). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.

Bee My Baby day care stays, Nosotros gym goes

The days may be numbered for the historic Lakewood Baptist Church, 14321 Detroit Ave., just east of Downtown Lakewood. A Cleveland-based developer has at least an option to purchase the property and has notified two tenants of the church-school complex of its pending redevelopment into senior apartments.

Salus Development LLC, headquartered in Downtown Cleveland, proposes to build a 66-unit apartment complex over a ground-floor commercial space fronting Detroit, between Olivewood and Lincoln avenues. The church property is comprised of three parcels totaling just over 1 acre.

The Lakewood Baptist Church was dedicated in 1918, according to the Lakewood Historical Society. Cuyahoga County property records show a two-level school and a one-story day care center were added behind the church in about 1952.

Although project details are still not finalized, the Bee My Baby preschool and day care center currently in the single-level building behind the church is proposed to expand into the senior apartment building’s ground-floor commercial space along Detroit.

On the other hand, the Nosotros Rock Climbing Gym will not stay. A spokesman told NEOtrans they were informed of the church’s pending sale and proposed demolition.

“We’re relocating,” said the Nosotros spokesman who declined to be publicly identified. When asked if they had a new home worked out, he replied “Not yet, we’re looking! Let us know if you know of anything!”

Site of the Lakewood Baptist Church is spread across three parcels on Detroit Avenue between Lincoln and Olivewood avenues. Across Detroit is the Westerly Apartments, managed by Barton Communities as would the new senior apartments. The site is two blocks east of the former Lakewood Hospital, now the Downtown Lakewood development site (

NEOtrans also reached out Lakewood Baptist Church Senior Pastor Jonathan Glass Riley for more information and to learn if the church will relocate. He did not respond prior to publication of this article. Neither did Salus Development President Michael Laskey.

Salus has numerous new-construction and historic renovation projects around the state. They include Franciscan Annex, 3648 Rocky River Dr., in Cleveland’s West Park-Kamms neighborhood as well as revitalizing historic apartments in Glenville.

Kevin Wayner, public information officer for the city of Lakewood said church representatives have not reached out to the city on any relocation plans. He said he is aware that Nosotro is looking to stay in Lakewood.

“The city supports both historic preservation and the provision of additional housing options in our community,” Wayner said. “We are hopeful Salus will present a development proposal that meets both objectives. Until such time as a formal application is submitted for review, the city will not have a position.”

Before responding to NEOtrans’ questions, Wayner said he heard from former Lakewood Planning and Development Director Shawn Leininger who provided updates on Salus’ project. Leininger left last week to become assistant town manager of Hilton Head Island, SC.

A conceptual rendering of what the Detroit Avenue side of the proposed senior housing development could look like. The building is proposed to have ground-level commercial and resident amenities fronting the sidewalk (HDS).

Site of the project, which has the interim working title “Detroit Avenue Senior Housing,” is just two blocks east of the long-planned Downtown Lakewood development site. For the latter, NEOtrans was first to report that developers are moving forward with a new boutique grocery store and 329 housing units. A groundbreaking is possible later this year.

“The Detroit Avenue Senior Housing project involves the new construction of a mixed-use building along the thriving Detroit Avenue corridor in Lakewood, OH,” wrote Salus in its application to OHFA. “The project is aimed at addressing the growing needs for senior, affordable housing in the Lakewood community while adding additional capacity for an existing daycare operator to expand their operations.”

Salus’ project would measure about 61,412 square feet but its design apparently is still fluid. In its financing application to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA), Salus said the building could be “four or five stories tall.” A rendering provided with the application shows a four-story building.

Salus has not bought the property yet, according to county records. To be eligible for OHFA financing, a developer must at least have a documented option to purchase a property it is seeking to develop.

Only 34 parking spaces are proposed in the new mixed-use development but that’s more than what is offered on-site now. Currently, the church has 16 parking spaces out front and 16 in back. On-site amenities for the senior housing complex could include a community room, fitness area, outdoor patio and possibly more.

The back of the church and the Olivewood Avenue side shows the single-level daycare center. Also visible is the high-rise Westerly Apartments across the street, managed by Barton Communities. Barton will also manage the senior apartments proposed for the church site (Google).

“The project will be a purpose-built example of best-practices in urban design, sustainable building techniques, and inclusivity applied to housing in our community,” Salus added in its application. “The project proposes 66 new apartment units for seniors ages 55 and older built over a ground-floor commercial space and residential amenities.”

The property is proposed to be managed by Lakewood-based LSC Service Corp. which does business as Barton Communities. Barton manages six senior housing properties in Northern Ohio including the Barton Senior Center and high-rise Westerly Apartments right across Detroit from the Lakewood Baptist Church. The project’s architect is Hiti, DiFrancesco and Siebold, Inc. of Cleveland.

Cost of the proposed senior apartment building project is estimated at $20.3 million, according to a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) financing application recently submitted to OHFA. Salus is seeking $15.7 million in 9 percent LIHTC spread over 10 years, allowing it to deduct the eligible basis of the project’s construction budget.

However, because Salus is seeking the 9 percent LIHTC, which is limited, competitive and divided among all states on a per capita basis, it is not guaranteed it will get the financing. In fact, its Lakewood project was passed over by OHFA in the latest 9 percent LIHTC round of awards announced May 15. In contrast, a lesser LIHTC of 4 percent is automatically awarded to all eligible projects that apply.

Typically, applicants seeking a 9 percent LIHTC award get passed over at least once and have to reapply multiple times before they win. It is therefore likely that Salus will reapply for the tax credit again.


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