A partnership between Knez Homes and Jim Miketo, owner of Forest City Shuffleboard, is planning to build eight new upscale townhomes at Lorain Avenue and West 47th Street. In addition to being the first new homes to be built on Lorain, the units also contain first floor flex paces that are designed for entrepreneurs or people working from home.
The development, which was unanimously approved by the Landmarks Commission on Thursday, June 10, will replace an empty lot at the corner of Lorain and West 47th Street, as well as a portion of a used car lot between Forest City Shuffleboard and the corner. It will be located next to the “Forest City 5,” the developers’ name for the 5 townhomes they built along W. 47th St. just north of Lorain.
“We see this as a furtherance of the development down Lorain Avenue,” Michael David with Knez Homes told the commission. “We’re hoping to continue that development trend westward.”
The townhomes, which will be between 1,700 and 3,100 square feet, are slated to include 2-3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths. They will also feature first floor bonus rooms or live/work spaces. The larger, corner unit also includes an English basement style rentable apartment.
In response to neighborhood feedback, the developers significantly altered their designs from the original presentation, adding brick to the entire facade, varying the colors and architecture to create more differentiation between units, adding more depth to the windows and doorways to create a less blocky exterior, and stepping back the upper level so it’s not so massive.
“It feels like a residential storefront,” said Patrick Thornton of Sixmo Architects. “There’s more individuality within the units.”
The local design review committee recently approved the design, adding as conditions that there be no vinyl windows, and also that composite siding or full brick should be placed on the front and side elevations that can be seen from the street. Neighbors also want to see the city add benches and trash cans, along with the lighting and street trees the developers are already planning to install.
The project also received feedback via the website Courbanize, Ohio City Inc. Director of Neighborhood Development Donna Grigonis reported. “They’re excited to see something go up here,” she said of residents. “We think it’s an important development for the area.”
City staff and commission members added that the innovative design could be a potential model for other retail streets in Cleveland with empty lots. “We anticipate more development density on Lorain, and we think this could be a real standard to set for form and design on the street,” said city planner Matt Moss. “The city plans to work with the city’s office of capital projects to add amenities.”
“This area has a lot of missing teeth, and this is the direction we want this area to go,” concluded Julie Trott, chair of the Landmarks commission. “We appreciate you listening to our feedback. This is a great example of what this type of collaboration can be.”
Lee Chilcote is a freelance writer and editor of The Land.
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