CLEVELAND — A new construction site in Ohio City looks a little different after the builders connected with residents to address concerns about the site in the middle of a densely-packed neighborhood.
Keystate Homes is building four townhomes along West 44th Street, between John Court and Whitman Avenue. The roughly $1.6 million project, called Harbor Whitman, broke ground in mid-November, but work stopped around Thanksgiving. Right around the same time, a driver backed into the fence around the project, knocking it over.
“And it was kind of open and I think people were really upset about that,” said Tim Barrett, who lives across the street from the project.
In a neighborhood that watches out for its own, the concerns made their way to Facebook, with one post mentioning exposed rebar, deep trenches, all behind a fence, but hidden by snow.
“My initial thought was, ‘These are very valid concerns,” said Howard Hanna Realtor Ted Theophylactos, who is working with the builder to sell the units.
After talking with neighbors this week, Keystate Homes put new rubber caps on top of the rebar and put up additional signs on the fence warning about the dangers of the job site.
“This is what every construction site needs to look like in terms of being fully-fenced in,” said Theophylactos.
The construction delay, says Theophylactos, is because of the kind of eco-friendly building Keystate does, which requires testing part of the concrete, “so that it’s able to not break and bend and fall apart in the weather conditions that we have here,” said Theophylactos.
Construction is expected to start again in early January once test results come back, assuming the weather warms up enough to be able to properly pour and cure concrete.
In the meantime, Barrett says the neighbors will keep their eyes open as the last few plots of land in a densely-filled neighborhood get filled in.
“People watch out for each other, and so they watch out of the property and I think that’s always been the case,” said Barrett.
“In fact, that field across the street, well, it was a field across the street, was where [my kids] played baseball and whatever,” said Barrett, looking at the current construction site. “It was their playground. It was great being empty but I’m really excited about the development.”
Barrett purchased his home across the street from the site in 1979 when only one of the original three homes that sat on the plot was still standing. He says two homes that once faced Whitman burned in the 1970s. The remaining home, facing West 44th Street, was demolished in the late 1990s.
“Unfortunately, fires were very common in what I call the decades of arson - the 70s and 80s,” said Barrett in a follow-up email. “This was all a measure of the depth of decline to which the neighborhood had fallen.”
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