Plans for another Ohio City apartment building scuttled amid concerns from Cleveland residents, Landmarks Commission

Louetta R. Clark

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Cleveland Landmarks Commission’s reluctance to approve a plan to build 18 one-bedroom apartments atop a 100-year-old building in the city’s Ohio City neighborhood has almost certainly doomed the project, the developer said.

James Asimes of the Local Development Partners firm planned to build “Fulton House” on a 6,900 square-foot piece of land on Fulton Road and Woodbine Avenue.

The building is part of a complex that is best known to locals because it houses the Ohio City Brew Stop convenience store. However, another section of the building once served as the home base for a company that made condiments for prisons and other institutional settings, he said.

Still, residents have expressed concerns about Asimes’ plans, and a committee that advises the Landmarks Commission expressed its disapproval. The commission did not take a vote on whether to issue a certificate of appropriateness during its virtual meeting Thursday, but instead agreed to postpone one so Asimes could make changes based on its feedback and re-submit plans.

However, following the meeting, Asimes said the Landmarks Commission’s stance on the project as presented means it will likely not come to fruition.

He planned to build a four-story building with 500-square-feet apartments that would go for about $1,100, and create space on the first floor for a coffee shop or bakery. Asimes also wanted to create an area with picnic benches for patrons of the restaurant that would go on the first floor.

He said during the meeting that he planned to keep the Brew Stop at its current location.

The Ohio City Inc. development corporation solicited feedback on the project for several months via the CoUrbanize website. The project also went in front of the Landmarks Commission last month for feedback.

The feedback had been critical. Residents and a local design review committee expressed concerns about the original proposal for the building to be five stories tall. As a result, Asimes and architect Westleigh Harper agreed to remove a story and two apartment units.

Still, many residents continued to push back because of the proposed building’s height of about 50 feet. They also had misgivings about a lack of on-site parking, as a planned garage would only hold eight cars.

The design review committee last week unanimously voted not to recommend approval, Ohio City Inc. Director of Neighborhood Development Donna Grigonis said during Thursday’s meeting.

The Landmarks Commission also had concerns, though. Chairwoman Julie Trott said Thursday that the project’s building was still too tall compared to surrounding buildings in a part of Ohio City zoned for structures that house two families.

Others expressed concerns about how the development would fit in with the rest of the historic district.

“It’s not a question of blending in, but how it lives in a community that’s already established and has been established for hundreds of years,” Vice Chairman Giancarlo Calicchia said.

Harper, during the meeting, pointed to other nearby apartment buildings that were similar sizes. While the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals would have to grant several variances for the project to go forward, he maintained that the plans were not far outside the realm of its Ohio City surroundings.

Additional alterations would make the project unviable, Asimes said. He said he was under contract to buy the property from longtime owner Tom Hatzopoulos but that the sale had not yet gone through.

Despite that, he said he was proud of the designs he created with Harper.

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