Entrepreneurs from Ethiopia build Addis View apartments in Hough

A couple from Ethiopia provides Cleveland with home health workers, chicken fingers and apartments, including the forthcoming Addis View in Hough.

Lemma Getachew and Guenet Indale of Inspirion.

Lemma Getachew and Guenet Indale of Inspirion.

An entrepreneurial couple from Ethiopia is boosting Cleveland’s stock of apartments, home health aides, chicken fingers, and teriyaki while raising two children.

The husband, Lemma Getachew, said, “Go figure: A black man from Africa owns Japanese restaurants. I’m crazy. I never get rest. I’m always busy.”

One of the couple’s several businesses, the Inspirion Group, recently razed several decrepit apartment buildings at East 90th Street and Carrie Court, just north of Chester Avenue in Hough, and broke ground on the first of four planned replacements called the Addis View Apartments. The development is expected to cost at least $13.6 million and to hold perhaps 424 moderately priced units.

In Ethiopia’s Amharic language, “Addis” means “new.” Getachew’s wife, Guenet Indale, explained, “The old buildings needed torn down. Now we’re building something new for the neighborhood.”

The site is within view of the ever-expanding Cleveland Clinic, whose shiny steel and glass contrasts sharply with weedy lots across the street. Hough has grown somewhat, too, but still has many crumbling or razed buildings. The much-touted Upper Chester project calling for hundreds of new units near the clinic has only been partially completed.

Meanwhile, costly units are multiplying in nearby University Circle and Little Italy. Said Getachew, “We’ve had quite a few projects open up that are A-plus-plus, with ridiculous prices. Students and other people are priced out. We’ve got Dealer Tire here and Dave’s, but there’s really nothing for the butcher that wants to live near where he works.”

Addis View’s rental rates haven’t been set yet, but Inspirion representative Alexis Mendoza says they might be roughly $900 per month for studios and $2,000 for two-bedroom units.

Addis View Phase I rendering by LDA Architects.

Addis View Phase I rendering by LDA Architects.

Addis View’s first building will have four stories and 130 units ranging from studios with 468 square feet apiece to two-bedroom units with 1,078 square feet apiece. The building will also have a fitness center, bike room, dog wash room, community room with a kitchenette, and an outdoor space with a fire pit and grills.

Plans for the other buildings have not been finalized, but tentatively call for 294 more units and a storefront facing Chester. The complex will also host Inspirion’s office, which will move from Cleveland Heights.

A project summary from the city’s economic development department says of the developers, “Inspired by the growth and excitement in today’s marketplace, they strive to uncover the unique and often overlooked real estate opportunities which others may ignore. With over 25 years of collective experience in the Greater Cleveland area, they are focused on expanding their portfolio of commercial, multi-family and retail properties by applying fundamental principles, sound analysis and a little inspiration, to create surprising and successful outcomes.”

At a planning meeting, David Ebersole, the city’s economic development director, said, “It’s always good to have new parties at the table, even better when they don’t just do one [project], but move on to another one as well.”

Cleveland is helping the project in several ways. It has given zoning variances for smaller setbacks and fewer parking spaces than normally required, since Addis View is within walking distance of many workplaces and of the HealthLine.

Cleveland also gave Inspirion $40,000 and lent it $500,000 for site work, including removal of asbestos. And the city abated 100 percent of the property tax for 15 years on the site’s improvements.

The Addis View site looking south towards the Cleveland Clinic.

The Addis View site looking south towards the Cleveland Clinic.

Inspirion will seek tax increment financing on the same terms for the second 15 years. It will also ask to remove a short divide between East 90th and Chester.

City officials expect Addis View to create 10 long-term jobs paying $400,000 per year and generating about $10,000 per year in city income taxes. Inspirion has agreed to try to hire unemployed workers and especially ones hard to employ.

The developers already own more than 1,000 old or new apartments in Cleveland. East Cleveland, and Willowick. In 2018, they built rare new retail space in East Cleveland: a 2018 building with a DTLR and a Mr. Hero. Last year, they finished a $12 million project to create 90 apartments in the Midtown at 3101 Euclid Ave.

Getachew is a pharmacist by training and Indale an engineer. The versatile couple used to own two pharmacies. Now they own Rx Home Healthcare, which has about 150 employees and 200 clients in Cleveland, Akron, and Columbus. They also have several Teriyaki Express take-out restaurants in Cleveland and Columbus and a Lenny’s Chicken in Elyria, and they’re planning more. Getachew often goes by Lenny in America instead of Lemma.

He’s done rather well for a war refugee. Thirty-five years ago, at age 19, he fled conscription and civil war in his homeland, He spent a year at a refugee camp in Somalia, then emigrated to Cleveland, where his brother was a doctor at St. Luke’s Medical Center. Getachew studied at Cuyahoga Community College and Long Island University, the latter while driving a cab on New York City’s risky streets.

Meanwhile, Indale won scholarships that took her from Ethiopia to Sweden to the University of Tennessee. The couple met in Washington, D.C. and now live in Hinckley.

Said Getachew, “I like it here. I’m very grateful to America for giving me shelter. It’s my country now.”

For more information about Inspirion and its properties, contact Alexis Mendoza at 216/200.0123 or [email protected].

Grant Segall is a national-prizewinning reporter who spent 34 years with The Plain Dealer. He has also published freelance articles, fiction, and “John D. Rockefeller: Anointed With Oil” (Oxford University Press).

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