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Residents push back against proposed development in booming Edgewater neighborhood

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Posted at 4:19 PM, Jun 17, 2022

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Planning Commission voted unanimously to table a New York-based developer’s proposed apartment complex off West 73rd Street in the Edgewater neighborhood. The proposal, which includes the creation of nearly 220 market-rate and luxury apartment units spanning five stories and two buildings, has drawn the ire of a vocal contingent of neighbors. Former city council member Matt Zone and current city council member Jenny Spencer (Ward 15) have also opposed the project.

The proposed apartment complex would be built on roughly 1.6 acres of land flanked by West 73rd Street north of Detroit Avenue. The light industrial buildings previously on the site are in the process of being demolished. The out-of-state developer sought schematic design approval from the planning commission on Friday morning after narrowly receiving approval from Far West Design Review. The planning commission tabled the proposal in order to provide more time for discussion between the neighborhood, council members and the developers.

Much of the opposition to the proposal centers around the density and size of the apartment buildings as well as the impact that the project would have on traffic on the increasingly congested West 73rd Street corridor. The part of West 73rd that would run adjacent to the project is so narrow that cars traveling in opposite directions cannot traverse the road simultaneously.

“You cannot have a car and people on bicycles going down at the same time. People do speed. People do hit pedestrians. We don’t want to see a tragedy on our street. It’s terrible,” said Mimi Elliott, a longtime resident of the Edgewater neighborhood. “You can’t even navigate the street. I can’t even get out of my driveway. It’s heavily, heavily trafficked for a residential street.”

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The project would presumably add to the traffic and congestion in the area because the apartment buildings would add 218 units while only including 140 parking spaces.

Former city councilman Matt Zone spoke in opposition to the project at Friday morning’s planning commission meeting. Zone highlighted another nearby apartment development, Station 73, that is building 258 apartment units — roughly 40 units more than the West 73rd proposal — while also having nearly twice the footprint.

The density of the proposed West 73rd apartments is simply untenable, Zone argued. Additionally, Zone said the height of the apartment buildings would tower over the single-family homes directly across the street.

“I know this is being built to the letter of the law and with what the urban form overlay calls for. But let’s face it: there are only 218 units and 140 parking spaces. Where are the guests going to park?” Zone said. “It’s going to further drive out people who have been there a long time… It’s going to present challenges that if this project moves forward in its present form, this commission is going to regret it.”

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Current Ward 15 council member, Jenny Spencer, who could not attend Friday’s meeting, submitted a letter to the commission saying the Edgewater neighborhood has become oversaturated with market-rate and luxury apartment units. Spencer provided analysis showing that more than 1,260 market-rate apartment units across 8 different developments have either been proposed or approved in recent years.

Elliott and other neighbors that spoke at Friday’s meeting acknowledged that the West 73rd street site is going to be developed at some point. However, they maintain that any proposal should complement the neighborhood instead of detracting from it.

“They need to rethink this. Nobody has any misconceptions; this is going to get developed. We want it. It just has to be the right development to merge with what we are doing here,” Elliott said. “We don’t want folks that have been here for years to move right back out because they no longer have the neighborhood that they bought into.”