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Dueling redevelopment proposals include preservation of historic Old Brooklyn church

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Posted at 5:22 PM, Dec 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-09 18:18:38-05

CLEVELAND — Under two new proposals released this week by the Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation, the proposed redevelopment of the corner of Memphis and Pearl will include the adaptive re-use of the historic St. Luke’s Church, whose now-dissolved congregation dates back to before the Civil War.

The two new proposals are a symbolic win for neighborhood and business leadersthat helped form a groundswell of opposition to a redevelopment proposal that failed to secure necessary tax credits earlier this year. The previous proposal, which also featured a mixed-use of residential and retail space, called for the demolition of St. Luke’s.

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Located at the corner of Memphis Ave. and Pearl Rd., St. Luke’s Church lost its congregation nearly a decade ago. It was the unceremonious end to the church, which was established in 1839. The sanctuary, with its humble red-bricked exterior, was rebuilt in 1903 and has dotted the Pearl Road commercial corridor ever since. After the final amen on Easter Sunday in 2014, community leaders and the Old Brooklyn Community Development Corp. have wrestled with what to do with the historic structure and the vitally important property it sits on.

“This is such a vital corner. We get so much traffic and we pull in from all these different areas,” said Anita Mehmood, the co-owner of Platinum Pooch Grooming, which sits next door to St. Luke’s. “Just let it sit and be unutilized, it’s not making the most of this property and this real estate. There is so much you could do to maximize what we can offer to the neighborhood.”

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The proposals currently under consideration by the OBCDC include the creation of dozens of apartment units through the adaptive reuse of St. Luke’s; the renovation of nearby Pearl Road UMC, as well as the potential demolition or renovation of the Greenline Building.

Under the first proposal, 32 apartment units would be created in addition to roughly 1000 square feet of apartment amenity space and 8000 square feet of commercial space. In the proposal, the developer has called for the renovation of the Greenline building, which would be anchored by a unique multi-purpose space in the sanctuary of St. Luke’s.

Under the second proposal, St. Luke’s would be preserved and re-imagined while new construction would take the place of the Greenline building. The new construction accounts for the creation of more than 70 apartment units, as well as significantly more apartment amenity space, retail and restaurant space as well as more than 6500 square feet of community space. The second proposal includes a part of Pearl Road UMC to be reused as apartments.

Micky Pastor, who has lived in Old Brooklyn for more than 30 years, said he’s relieved to know the church will remain a focal point of either proposal.

“I think that’s a good idea because you should never waste something of value, especially land… Let’s use it. Let’s not condemn it,” Pastor said. “Don’t discard something because it’s old. But let’s revitalize what we have.”

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Mehmood, who has operated her dog grooming business in the Pearl Road corridor for more than a decade, said a future redevelopment of the site would inject new life and bring new people to the neighborhood, which benefits everyone.

“It’s important that people kind of connect and there are just a lot of activities and fun things to do. Doing something with that corner would really help the community, the neighborhood. I think it’s definitely important for it to not just sit any longer,” Mehmood said. “I’m really happy they are going to keep that building. I mean, where there is a will, there is a way. People can be really creative in revitalizing what’s already there and keeping that historical aspect. There is a lot that can be offered, I think. We’re excited.

The OBCDC and its staff are currently vetting and reviewing the proposals. A community meeting has been scheduled for next Thursday.