|The Plain Dealer - July 2011|
Proposal for 19 townhouses near Rocky River in Lakewood might revive interest in riverfront sites
Friday, July 15, 2011
By Michelle Jarboe, Thje Plain Dealer
A rendering shows a proposed townhouse project along the Rocky River in Lakewood. The homes in the foreground are closest to the river, and the development stretches back to Sloane Avenue. The street to the left is Sloane Subway. The project, which would replace three single-family homes, might spark more developer interest in refashioning riverfront sites.
LAKEWOOD, Ohio -- A proposal to build 19 townhouses in Lakewood may revive interest in remaking the residential riverfront in this city of older homes.
Developer Andrew Brickman has a contract to purchase three houses on the Rocky River from longtime owner Lynn Walker.
The houses, which Walker has been trying to sell for years, would be demolished and replaced with 19 townhouses, on a 1.25-acre site sloping from Sloane Avenue to the riverfront.
"Our riverfront properties - we have few of them in Lakewood - are prime development sites," said Dru Siley, the city's planning director. "I think it's likely we'll see other developments like this proposed in the near future."
The $8 million to $10 million project, which Brickman is calling "Metro" for now, wouldn't be Lakewood's first attempt to bring new, denser residential development to its riverfront. To the south, the much larger Cliffs condominium project, first pitched in 2006, is still struggling to find financing in the wake of the housing collapse.
Brickman said he has obtained financing for the Metro project from an undisclosed source and hopes to purchase Walker's properties in the fall. Construction could start in the spring. The homes, designed by Dimit Architects of Lakewood, would range from 1,700 to 3,600 square feet and would be priced starting around $300,000.
Lakewood's architectural review board approved designs for the project Thursday night.
City officials have been trying to attract homebuilders for years - long before the housing market crashed. But aside from Rockport Square, a townhouse and loft project built along Detroit Avenue by Forest City Enterprises Inc., the densely-populated city has seen little new residential construction.
To encourage riverfront development, Lakewood officials have taken early steps to make land along the Rocky River a Community Reinvestment Area - a state designation that opens up tax incentives for property owners who renovate existing buildings or construct new ones.
Lakewood has used the CRA designation before to offer several-year property-tax discounts to buyers of new homes. Such abatements, which lower the overall cost of homeownership, are a compelling marketing tool for homebuilders.
Typically the abatement is limited to any increase in property-tax value from improvements; the pre-development value of a property is still taxed.
"I think it's going to create an interesting dynamic," Siley said of new residential development along Sloane Avenue. "There will be a handful of remaining single-family homes along that stretch, and people will realize that there is riverfront single-family land in Lakewood."
The Metro site sits across the Rocky River from 11 River, a high-end residential project that Brickman is building. The developer also is finishing off 27 Coltman, a nearly sold-out townhouse project in Little Italy.