Cleveland’s Little Italy

Previewed a house in South Euclid on a recent Friday which required disembarking from the Red Line in Little Italy and picking up a #9 bus for the rest of the trek. As I waited for the bus, here was my view:

You may not know that one of the new construction properties planned for Little Italy is in the works and is this apartment building. I know when it was first presented to the Planning Dept. it was a 40 unit building with an estimated average rental price of $1600/month. They broke ground at the beginning of September and are, seemingly, making good progress.

The second thing to notice, if you’ve not been there in a while or are not living in the area: the Rapid Stop is new, moved essentially one street over from where it used to be. I have to say it makes sense and looks pretty darn good. I particularly liked this view because it shows Transit Oriented Development making a difference in Little Italy. $1600/month has been totally supportable over the last few years in University Circle (which is literally just past the new building and maybe one more block down the hill.  I say supportable rental pricing but obviously only certain economic brackets can support it. More people fit into that category, however, than you might have imagined.

You want to live in Little Italy and not rent? Not as easy as what’s considered normal in most neighborhoods. Unless you want (and can afford) new construction. Little Italy lore has it as a tight-knit community with long roots to the area. I was wondering if this was still true so I did some digging on home title transfers over the last few years. I looked up homes on E 120th, E 123rd and Coltman. (I did not include new construction from the last decade or so).  Yes, most of the transfers of ownership occurred between people with the same last names, so handing down your home ownership to your children is still very popular. Word of mouth sales to people with not the same but similar last names are 2nd most popular method. Some of those surnames could belong to a married child of course.  There is also a smattering of LLC ownerships of single and multi-family older homes. A long time owner could be preparing to sell thus the LLC name as owner, but I do think some of the homes have been purchased by individuals or partnerships looking to rehab and resell or rehab and rent.

There is a two family home on W 126th for sale. Over 2500 sq feet, a back yard patio. Price? Just over $300k.  Not necessarily a price point for a wide variety of buyers but there you have it. There is also a condo project going up on the old Murray Hill School site. I believe I saw one of the units for sale (1200 sq feet, 2 bedrooms) for $250k. There is also a huge town home for sale on E 123rd. 3400 sq ft, 3brs, 4 baths and listed at $789,000. If you are looking to live right in the core of Little Italy and buy a resale home closer to a more average sale price (under $200k) you might be waiting a while or out of luck.

Little Italy is an historic district so when new construction is proposed there are additional guidelines over a non-historic area. As I was typing this I checked and found an article written almost a year ago by Michelle Jarboe of the Plain Dealer. The article can shed more insight into one of the newer buildings. Also, at 123rd and Mayfield is another proposed new construction project and you can read about that one here. It’s called The Hemingway Project with rents starting at $2000/month.  How did they get the land for this project right in the heart of it all?  It used to be a restaurant, a developer bought it a few yrs ago for a half million dollars and then sold it to this development partnership more recently. I will keep you posted on this one.

If you come to visit from out of town? Take the Red Line Rapid from the airport, get off at the Little Italy stop. Art Galleries, shops, food and great walking make it a great place to visit. Mamma Santa’s restaurant opened sometime in the sixties and some people still swear it’s their favorite pizza in the City.  Corbo’s and Presti’s Bakery which has been around since 1903. Believe me, there is a lot more food to eat and more to the story of Little Italy but that awaits future posting.

Renting or Owning, What Amenities Do You Want Close To Home?

We’re used to the standard way of looking at this, right?  What do you want near your home? You want sidewalks  or you want lots of land. You want to be within a certain distance from your workplace. You want to be able to walk to (insert grocer, bar, transit or bus stop, etc).  When you are renting, what’s on your wish list over and above either in unit or on each floor laundry facilities?

Cleveland is having a building boom for renters. Supply is alleged to be way below the demand. So for several years now there has been planning, digging and building.  Many people prefer to rent because they don’t want the responsibility of keeping up a house and property. As a home owner I can certainly understand that at times, believe me!

University Circle is awash in new apartments; one place scheduled to open in 2018 (Spring?) is called One University Circle.  Views of University Circle are a great amenity. They also list:

  • Large Ft fitness center
  • Indoor & Outdoor Wellness Studios
  • 5th-floor rooftop deck with swimming pool, outdoor kitchens, community garden, private cabanas, and fire pits
  • Views of University Circle
  • Resident mail room with 24/7 smart package locker system
  • Business Lab with professional conference room
  • 24-hour Concierge services
  • Pet wash station
  • Bicycle storage

Downtown on St. Clair with a projected opening of December 2017 unless that has changed, is The Standard. Yes, the iconic Standard Building built in the 1920s which started out as one of or THE oldest labor union buildings in the Country.  Among other things, it’s going to have a community room and what they call a 2-story Collaboration Room with a demonstration kitchen.  Are you allowed to use it if you are not collaborating? ☺ I suspect yes. There will also be first floor retail, a gym, in suite laundry, etc.

I noticed when browsing the One University Circle site, a common room with a fireplace and bookshelves on either side of it! That would be one of my wish list items. A shared library. I know we are reading more books on devices but there is something about looking at shelves of books and seeing one you never would’ve thought about.  My way of thinking is that every place should have a library and the stocking of that library doesn’t have to be on the rental management company or office building. We all just need to keep reading and why not share/exchange books?

The two examples I gave are obviously great public transit locations. And believe me when I say, there are many other places being built with good access to bus or transit. I picked these two because it seems they are close to completion. What’s on your amenity list?

 

Video Coverage: Shaker Square: Past Present and Future From 7/25/17

The League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland sponsored the event Tuesday.  I mentioned it in my 7.24 post, thought this was a good update to that in case you were not able to attend. Well worth the time, so grab a cup of coffee.  It was so well attended, standing room only at the Shaker Library.  Enjoy

 

 

Is Cleveland Embracing Transit Oriented Development?

In 2008, five years after getting into real estate, I wrote about the Shaker Rapid and Transit Oriented Development (TOD).  When I lived in Maryland, TOD was all the talk. Here? People might discuss RTA and the Rapid Transit or the Green Line Shaker Rapid. But transit oriented development did not roll off the tongue.

The Shaker Rapid was one of the first U.S. transit lines. The Van Sweringens are local icons for the Terminal Tower, the City of Shaker and the Shaker Rapid. In the infant days of the 1900’s, the Van Sweringens started building houses in Shaker Heights. Now everyone loves Shaker Heights, the beautiful architecture, Shaker Lakes, and yes, the amazing access to the Rapid. Back then? Not so much. People were reluctant to buy a home so far away from the City of Cleveland’s center because that was where most of them worked.  The Van Sweringens decided to build a transit line that could get people to and from.  I wrote about it in 2008 on a site called Active Rain. Just think how long that Rapid line has been running! And Shaker Heights DID become one of the first communities with Transit Oriented Development in mind.  The Shaker Rapid line is so extensive, you can live in hundreds of homes or apartments within a one or two block walk to a Train. If you are reading this and you are not from or in Cleveland? You would be amazed at how wonderful that line is for the Shaker Community.

Now people are on board with TOD.  Not necessarily because it helps people get to and from their jobs without driving (though that would be my favorite reason, but this is Cleveland).  The newer city planning buzzword around the country is density. Loosely translated: the more people you can pack into a neighborhood the more they support local businesses, more tax money, etc. Regardless of why it’s taken seed here, it’s not a bad thing. W. 25th St is seeing development near that Rapid station and more is planned.

We have a boat load of newer development, in new home and apartment rental form, in University Circle. Much more planned but the Rapid stop was even changed recently to make it more accessible to students at Case, workers at the Clinic, Severance Hall, the Museums, etc.  It’s even closer now to Little Italy for those important Corbo Bakery runs.

Talk has now to The West Blvd. Rapid Station area. This one excites me, as long as it’s done well.  There is land adjacent to the Station,  land nearby without existing homes, unused commercial properties (and some well established working ones!) Also walking distance to several well established residential communities. The Plain Press did an article this month about transit oriented development in Cudell and the West Blvd. Rapid Station. Read the article, there is more than one planning proposal being considered which deals with where things like homes, offices, apartment buildings are located, what kind and how many. Would be curious to know what you think. Here’s a quote from the article:

“Sislak said the area around the Rapid Station at West Boulevard and Detroit showed potential for development of 380-600 new homes by 2026; 1.2 million in new office space by 2025 and had untapped retail space demand. The area was deemed to be the most-ready for investment when compared to the other top sites E. 116th and Shaker Blvd and Slavic Village.”

Which brings us back to Shaker Heights. The focal point of the Shaker Line is Shaker Square. A hub, borders Shaker and Cleveland, has had it’s ups and downs over the last few decades figuring out what kinds of businesses will thrive at that location.  And maybe what else is needed to help it thrive?

There is a forum being held on the Future of Shaker Square:  TOMORROW July 25th at the Shaker Library located on Van Aken Blvd. It will be from 7pm to about 8:30pm, will be moderated by long time Plain Dealer journalist Steven Litt with a panel discussion and it says public forum so maybe a public questions period?