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.

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