Redesigned Hessler Road project wins approval, is headed for construction this summer

After years of objections from neighbors and multiple redesigns, a proposed six-unit apartment building has received approval from the Cleveland Landmarks Commission.
Hessler Road apartments design (Courtesy RDL Architects)

A proposal to build a new, six-unit apartment building on historic Hessler Road in University Circle received approval from the Cleveland Landmarks Commission today. Despite the fact that several longtime residents of the street opposed the project, saying that it was too large and dense for the historic district and construction would damage the 120-year-old brick street, only one member opposed the project. The approved project was different from the original, 23-unit design first presented two years ago, and many commission members praised the changes. 

“The design is a substantial improvement over what we’ve seen before,” said commission member Carter Edman. “The developers have done a really good job of creating a design that is fitting and appropriate without being too imitative.”

(Catch up on our previous coverage of the Hessler development at 

Not everyone agreed, however. Commission member Michele Anderson said the project was too large for the district and that it covered the backyard of the adjacent property and would benefit from more green space. Public comments submitted in writing to the commission also expressed opposition, and two Hessler residents spoke against the project at the meeting. 

“The Landmarks Commission is charged with protecting our city’s history from those owners who seek to tear down or alter that history, or who seek to build new structures that adversely impact that history,” said Laura Cyrocki, who lives across the street from the project. “Within the last five years we’ve seen over 1,800 apartments and condos built in University Circle, with 1,000 more in development. That staggering growth is unprecedented. The addition of 18 more bedrooms on an already dense and fragile street at the expense of the character of Cleveland’s first historic district only serves to create more economic benefit for the developer and the property owner.”

Cyrocki noted that she and her fellow residents on Hessler have collected more than 1,500 signatures on a petition opposing the project. (Read the Hessler Coalition’s version of events here.)

Janice Cogger, who said she has lived on Hessler for more than 35 years, expressed her concerns that construction would tear up the narrow street and block much-needed parking. The city recently spent money to fix the sagging brick street, but more work is needed, she said. “Our big fear is that the mouth of Hessler Road will be turned into a construction site,” she said. 

After Landmarks Commission chair Julie Trott reminded commission members their purview is over the appropriateness of exterior design only, Planning Commission director Joyce Huang said she’s working with other city officials to coordinate construction so it doesn’t harm the street. Ward 6 council member Blaine Griffin, who supports the project, also said he would be upset if the project damaged the brick street. The city has allocated funding to repair the historic Hessler Court, which intersects with Hessler Road and is the only remaining wood block street in the city, sometime later this year. 

In the end, project representatives and commission members stated that the two-year process had improved the design and led to a better project. “We feel that you’ve made the project better,” said Kevin Dreyfuss-Wells with RDL Architects, the architect for the project. Commission members also urged the developers to communicate with neighbors and work with them to address their concerns. 

Learn more about the Cleveland Landmarks Commission here and participate in their meetings on Youtube here.

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