Developer scales back Hessler apartment project based on community feedback

The city’s Euclid Corridor Design Review committee provided conceptual approval to a proposed Hessler Road apartment project April 15 after the developers scaled it back from 23 to 12 units and made other design changes.


Rendering of proposed Hessler Road development.

Rendering of proposed Hessler Road development.

Update: On Thursday, May 27, the Cleveland Landmarks Commission approved the scaled-back Hessler Road project and Ford Avenue renovation. Chair Julie Trott praised the community’s involvement and stated the commission’s desire to “bring you into the conversation and determine the best way to do that.”

The city’s Euclid Corridor Design Review committee on April 15 provided conceptual approval to a proposed Hessler Road apartment project after the developers scaled it back from 23 to 12 units and made other design changes.

After facing resistance from neighbors who are opposed to dense, new development within an historic district, the developers cut the project in half, reduced the scale by adding a pitched roof, reduced the rear parking area, added walk-up front porches to the first floor units, and increased the setback to allow for windows on the east side of the project.

Developer Rick Maron said they revised the project after getting feedback from the neighborhood that the original design was too large, too modern and didn’t fit the street. “I’m sure you haven’t seen a lot of projects come before you scaled in half,” he said, adding that the developers met twice with neighborhood residents.


The proposed Hessler apartments shown in context.

The proposed Hessler apartments shown in context.

“We know and respect that the design doesn’t meet what every resident wants, but for us, infill development and the historic rehabilitation of two structures meets our goals for the neighborhood,” said Chris Ronayne, President of University Circle Inc. (UCI), the community development corporation for the area, which sold the property to developers Maron and Russell Berusch, owner of Berusch Development Partners Inc. In addition to the apartment project, the developers will rehabilitate two historic properties on Ford Avenue into apartments. “We’re proud of where we’ve gotten today.”

Ward 6 council member Blaine Griffin stated that he is working closely with the city to identify funds to rehabilitate the historic brick and wood block street, which is currently in poor condition. He said letters were submitted to him both in support of and in opposition to the project. “The developers have done a good job of scaling it down with a project that I can support,” he said.


Rendering of proposed Hessler apartment building.

Rendering of proposed Hessler apartment building.

Community residents in opposition to the project have developed a website outlining their concerns. They are asking for restoration of Hessler, for the developers to repair damage to the street (residents claim Berusch damaged the wood block street when he renovated townhomes he owns on Hessler), a broader public process, and no new development on Hessler Avenue. Additionally, they are concerned about potential displacement of existing tenants and high prices being charged to residents of new housing.

Design review members expressed concern that the historic garage on the property, which was traditionally used as a staging area for the Hessler Street Fair, would be torn down unless a plan was developed to relocate it. They also expressed concern about the lack of a common front entrance to the property, which other Hessler buildings have.

Maron outlined plans for garbage removal and stated that he has an agreement with the Ford Road garage across the street to accommodate spaces for residents of the two homes that will be rehabbed.

After the committee voted to approve the design conceptually, city planner Kim Scott commended residents for their vigorous participation in the design. “Hessler Street residents, I appreciate your passion,” she said. “Thank you.”

The developer is currently scheduled to go before the city’s Landmarks Commission on Thursday, April 22 and come back to the Euclid Corridor Design Review committee for schematic and final approval on Thursday, May 6.

Lee Chilcote is a freelance writer and editor of The Land.

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