CLEVELAND — A well-established developer who has completed numerous projects in Ohio City has proposed building a three-story, townhome-style apartment building near West 48th Street and Franklin Boulevard. Although the project still faces additional oversight and approvals by the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals and Landmarks Commission, the developer is optimistic the project can materialize relatively quickly.
Chad Kertesz of My Place Group has proposed building 24 one bedroom and studio apartments, amounting to 12,000 square feet of total living space. The property, which is located at 4815 Franklin Blvd, would be wedged between a church on a the corner and a single family home to the west. It sits in the Franklin Blvd Historic District.
"Currently part of the church’s property, the land has been vacant for decades," Kertesz said.
“We’ve been working with the properties around it and the texture that those buildings and homes have. We’ve tried to put something that blends really well with the neighborhood,” Kertesz said.
Kertesz’s proposal, which was approved by both the Ohio City Design Review Committee as well as the local block club, went before the Landmarks Commission on Thursday morning. Commission members expressed concern about the proposal’s design choices and the zoning code variances that Kertesz needed before permits could be issued.
Kertesz and his team have proposed staggering certain sections of the building in order to help make the building less visually imposing. As far as parking is concerned, Kertesz told the Landmarks Commission he has an agreement in place with the church next door that has offered tenants parking spaces at a nearby lot.
However, the Landmarks Commission was particularly concerned about the ‘set-back’ distance that Kertesz proposed and ultimately tabled a decision on whether to award the project a certificate of appropriateness.
“There is a lot of design. There are lot of code requirements with parking and different set-back [requirements],” Kertesz said. “There are a number of variances for this particular project. Even trying to fit almost anything in the city of Cleveland whether it’s a single family or a building, it requires variances.”
A total of 11 variances would be needed before the project would be approved. The variances include the square footage, the number of parking spaces, the proximity of the parking spaces, as well as the ‘set-back’ distance the building is from the roadway. Kertesz said the number of variances the project requires is common when building in the city, especially in a historic district.
However, the need for variances may become a thing of the past.
The city’s planning commission is in the process of piloting a new type of zoning code called ‘form-based code’ which provides for greater emphasis on walkability and flexibility. The city’s current zoning code, which dates back to 1929 and has been amended dozens of times over the years, has become a patchwork quilt that can sometimes be difficult to navigate. Developers have lamented that the variance process is too cumbersome and bogs down some projects.
The ‘form-based code’ is being piloted in parts of the Detroit-Shoreway and Cuddell neighborhoods with the goal of expanding it to other parts of the city. For the time being, however, Kertesz has to abide by the antiquated code currently in place.
“I think [the Landmarks Commission] had some good points. I think there’s a couple of things we can do to address it and hopefully we can get this project built,” Kertesz said.