CLEVELAND — Ohio City Incorporated has purchased the land where Front Steps Housing and Services used to be located at 1545 West 25 Street so that the land can eventually be used for Irishtown Bend. Until March 1, 2022, the building will continue operating as a temporary emergency shelter for the YMCA Greater Cleveland, providing more space for the population at the Norma Herr Women's Center.
Irishtown Bend is a 16-acre project that would stabilize the hill where Ohio City and the Cuyahoga River meet on the West Bank, creating a large park that would help connect multi-use trails along the Cuyahoga River and the west side of Cleveland.
County records show they purchased the land on July 2, 2021 for $500,000.
"The purchase of this property is made possible by a generous $350,000 grant by the Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund aimed at deconcentrating shelter services, allowing for social distancing and safe housing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic," according to a press release from Ohio City Incorporated.
"After March 1, 2022, the property will be transferred to a subsidiary of West Creek Conservancy to allow the Port of Cleveland to continue working to stabilize the Irishtown Bend hillside. This work will protect the Cuyahoga River Shipping Channel and pave the way for a future riverfront park," said the release.
The former Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority administrative building and “Big 8” have already been demolished, making way for future green-space development. Ohio City Inc. Executive Director Tom McNair says demolition of the former Front Steps building will follow once the lease expires in March of 2022.
County records show that either Riverbed West LLC or Ohio City Incorporated control much of the land on the east side of West 25th Street from Franklin Avenue almost to the corner of Detroit Avenue and West 25th Street.
The one plot that neither Riverbed West LLC nor Ohio City Incorporated controls is the empty building at 1435 West 25th Street. The owner of 1435 is restaurateur and entrepreneur Bobby George. He says he's been talking to the City of Cleveland about what it would take to make the property part of the Irishtown Bend project. County records show he bought it in 2018 for about $250,000.
George's plans, which were created in early 2020 and submitted to the City of Cleveland in June 2021, call for a wellness center. George says he hopes to move his existing wellness center Lyv there from a small space on West 25th Street, near his restaurant TownHall.
While those negotiations continue, McNair says Irishtown Bend planners are taking the necessary steps to bring the greenspace to fruition as quickly as possible.
“I think this is a great example of what is possible when everyone in Cleveland’s civic sector works together to find solutions,” said Tom McNair, Executive Director of Ohio City Incorporated. “At once we were able to support the outstanding work being done by Front Steps Housing and Services, ensure we are able to continue to assist vulnerable people in our community during a crisis, and set the stage for one of the most transformational projects we’ve seen in Northeast Ohio in a generation. This isn’t just a real estate transaction, this is cementing a legacy.”
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