Redevelopment of Joseph & Feiss site moves forward
by Chuck Hoven
(Plain Press, July 2004) The former Joseph & Feiss clothing factory on W. 53 rd and Walworth Avenue , just south of I-90, will be transformed into a 150-unit housing development according to plans revealed by a partnership of the City of Cleveland , developer Ameri-Con Homes and the Stockyard Redevelopment Organization.
At a groundbreaking ceremony on June 9 th, the development partners revealed some details of their plans. The development is to include 96 new townhouses and 54 units of townhomes and lofts in restored buildings on the site. The $20 million project, named Asbury Towers after the water tower being preserved at the site, is to be phased in over a five-year period.
Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony, Alex Brazynetz, executive director of the Stockyard Redevelopment Organization, said the vision for redeveloping the site began with a neighborhood study in 1998. In the study, residents and stakeholders called for turning vacant and blighted buildings into positive assets for the neighborhood. Brazynetz said neighbors developed a “vision of what can be.”
Ward 17 Councilman Matt Zone praised Brazynetz and the Stockyard Redevelopment Organization for keeping area residents informed of every stage of the proposed development. An article in the July 1999 issue of the Plain Press reports that Ameri-Con Homes first announced plans for the development of housing on the Joseph & Feiss site at a June 2, 1999 Stockyards Forum neighborhood meeting. At that time construction was expected to begin in the first half of 2000. The project was delayed as the city worked with Ameri-Con Homes to make sure the company addressed concerns raised by Ward 15 Councilwoman Merle Gordon about a Ameri-Con Homes housing development in her ward.
The July 1999 Plain Press article provides a brief history of the site. The Joseph & Feiss Company started manufacturing clothing in the 1840s. The company expanded from 1918 to 1926, and again from 1935 to 1936. As recently as the early 1980s, the Joseph & Feiss Co., a division of the Phillips-VanHeusen Company, had 1,200 employees. European clothing manufacturer Hugo Boss took over the company in the early 1990s and closed the west side manufacturing facility in the mid-1990s.
At the June 9 th groundbreaking, Ward 17 Councilman Zone noted that many neighborhood residents worked at Joseph & Feiss, including his grandmother, a seamstress. She worked at the plant 44 years, Zone noted, walking to work every day from her home near W. 65 th and Detroit . Mayor Jane Campbell called the project, “the first phase in rebuilding the community.”
In the first phase of the project, 26 townhomes will be built on the north side of Walworth Avenue , opposite the former Joseph & Feiss factory. Paul Ettorre, Director of Urban Development for Ameri-Con Homes, says he expects the first phase to be completed in fall 2004. Prices for the two and three bedroom townhomes will start at $128,000. The townhomes range in size from 1,050 to 1,250 square feet and will include an attached garage, English-style raised basements and front and rear porches.
Each of the townhomes includes a buyer guarantee for the energy efficiency of the home. Ameri-Con Homes promises homebuyers that if their energy usage exceeds a two-year ceiling to heat and cool their home, the buyer will receive a refund on their utility costs. At current rates, Ameri-Con Homes projects year- round heating and cooling costs at $46 to $80 per month.
The second phase of the development calls for redevelopment of the four-story water tower building into two, three and four bedroom loft condominiums, says Ettorre. He estimates this phase of the project will be completed in fall of 2005. The loft condominiums will start at 1,600 square feet and feature open floor plans, fifteen-foot high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows. The condominiums will also have covered parking, a community and fitness room and a rooftop community deck. The starting price for the loft condominiums is projected at $155,000.
Plans call for the other building on the site, the former administration building, to be converted into two-story townhomes and for additional new townhomes to be built around the rehabilitated buildings. Plans call for all 150 of the housing units in the proposed development to receive 15-year tax abatements from the city of Cleveland . For a $128,000 home, under 2003 taxation rates that means a savings of about $2,500 per year. For a $155,000 loft condominium that means a savings of about $3,000 per year. If the taxes were paid, roughly half (49%) would help fund the Cleveland schools.
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